Sin: part 1, what is it?

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:21-23)

Much of the “theology of sin” has to do with what we do. Taking that view, there are right deeds and wrong deeds. OK, is casting out devils in Jesus’ name a right deed or a wrong deed, a work of iniquity, a sin?

If you look on the internet at the definitions of sin given by various organizations, you get answers such as:

Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). (GotQuestions.org)

Sin is a riddle, a mystery, a reality that eludes definition and comprehension. Perhaps we most often think of sin as wrongdoing or transgression of God’s law. Sin includes a failure to do what is right. But sin also offends people; it is violence and lovelessness toward other people, and ultimately, rebellion against God. (biblestudytools.com)

The Christian definition of sin is purposely disobeying the rules of God (1 John 3:4). (crosswalk.com)

Sin is a transgression, an iniquity, an unrighteous act. Sin is a deviation from the will of God. It is a form of evildoing since it is in opposition to God’s decrees and desires. Sin is not…merely a deficiency. (carm.org)

The truth is that sin, as defined in the original translations of the Bible, means “to miss the mark.” (allaboutgod.com)

All these definitions have to do with our deeds. Look again at Jesus’ statement above. Sin has more to do with our ears than with our hands; with our teacher than with our deeds. Yes, there are deeds, but the deeds have their rise in the teacher. The righteousness or the sin comes not with the deeds but with the teacher of those deeds. Look at Eve who sought for the knowledge of good. God’s teaching was “You can eat from every tree of the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I alone am the source of the knowledge of good.” Satan’s teaching was ” Eat. You can be your own source of the knowledge of good. You can be your own God.” Look at Cain who sought contentment and happiness. God’s teaching was “sin is crouching at your door, you must overcome it. Then you will find happiness and contentment. Satan’s teaching was “kill Abel. That will solve your problems.”

Most of Christendom looks at the Bible as God’s rule book, a written standard by which we are to live. Sin, therefore, is judged by comparing our behavior to these rules. Usually the rules begin with the 10 commandments. However, the first commandment God gave to the Israelites is not one of the 10. First, God said:

Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5-6)

Jeremiah puts that command this way,

“…in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.'” (Jer. 7:22-23)

The Hebrew word translated as “obey” has connotations of both “hear” and “obey.” It is a living relationship rather than a static follow-these-rules command. After establishing this dialogic relationship, God gave the 10 commandments beginning with:

“Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Notice the conjunction of “obey my voice” with “I will be your God” in the Jeremiah passage above. This is the condition, and no other, upon which the Creator will be your God. “You shall have no other Gods before me” means you shall not hear/obey any other voice.

Sin comes into the picture when we hear/obey the wrong teacher, when we fail to hear/obey The Word who was in the beginning, the Creator who speaks to his people without measure.

About Ellis Hein

I am a woodturner and the author of The Woodturner's Project Book. I have a life-long interest in the gospel preached by George Fox and the early Quakers. You can see some of my material on that subject at http://nffquaker.org/profiles/blog/list?user=1zw2th7nj9p89.
This entry was posted in Hear My voice, Sin and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Sin: part 1, what is it?

  1. Alexander says:

    Do you or anybody at NFF folks in Portland, Oregon, that meet in the manner of Christian (Conservative) Friends? I miss that in my life. I am attending a conservative, evangelical Anglican (formerly Episcopal) congregation. It has been and continues to be a blessing, but I miss the New Testament model

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  2. Ellis Hein says:

    Alexander, Is there a way I can contact you? Or you could text me at threezeroseven twofiveone twooneninenine. I should be able to put you in touch with NFF people in Portland, Oregon.

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  3. Allan Halton says:

    Hi Ellis.

    Indeed, to disobey God’s voice is sin. For Adam had disobeyed the voice of God, who had told him that in the day that he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die (Gen. 2:17). I know from your previous blog series (which I have thought much about) that you hold the view that it was the tree itself that caused the death. I am not so sure. In Romans 5 Paul teaches that “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin…” (Rom 5:12).This leads me to understand that it was not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that cause the sin and the death. Scripture does not say, “as by one tree sin entered into the world…” But rather, “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin…” Sin entered into the world when Adam disobeyed God, and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 1:12 after God had created the fruit trees, He “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:12). So surely it had to be disobedience to the voice of God (the transgression of His commandment) and not the tree itself, that caused the sin and the death.

    Taking this a step further, Paul continues that it was because of Adam’s disobedience that “death passed upon all men, for all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). For, he continues, even before the law (of Moses) sin was obviously in the world because men were dying. “But sin is not imputed when there is no law.” How then can this be? If they had not transgressed a law, how could they die? “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who was a figure of Him that was to come.” In other words, even before the law people died even though they had not broken a commandment the way Adam had. Meaning that it was Adam’s transgression that had brought death not only upon himself but upon all men. (It was not Eve’s transgression that did this but Adam’s as the head of the race. All sinned because all men were in Adam when he sinned.) Doesn’t seem very fair, does it. But then Paul goes on to speak of the grace of God and the obedience of one Man by which many are made righteous (Rom. 5:19). We might say that’s not fair either. But it’s grace. And no, grace isn’t a license to continue sinning, as Paul goes on to explain in Romans 6. It’s a divine enablement to walk in righteousness provided to those who hear the voice of their Teacher and respond in obedience.

    My thoughts.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Allan, I am going to break up my response to your comment in an attempt to keep my responses from becoming too tangled. First I want to tackle the point you bring up in your first paragraph:

      I know from your previous blog series (which I have thought much about) that you hold the view that it was the tree itself that caused the death.

      This puzzles me. I have gone back and re-read what I had written and can’t find anything that would lead you to that conclusion. If you can point out to me where I give that idea–that it was the tree itself that caused death–I would like to know.

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      • Allan Halton says:

        Ellis, I got it from Part 1 of The Fundamental Theorem:

        “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. (Gen. 2:16-17)

        “Why?

        “The usual answer is “man died because they disobeyed God.” But there is something more profound here than a wrath filled God dishing out just rewards. If God had said “in the day you step off this cliff you will die,” we would merely observe, “gravity.” At stake is a law just as fundamental as the law of gravity. The serpent’s temptation was not about gaining the knowledge of good and evil. Man had access to this before eating the fruit. Rather the temptation was about becoming Gods in our own eyes.”

        It seemed to me, Ellis, that you were challenging “the usual answer.” Yet it’s clear from Scripture that this is the very reason why man died. He disobeyed God. It was far more than that he fell victim to “gravity,” that is, fell victim to the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. That tree in itself was not evil. It was not the fruit of that tree that caused him to die. It was disobedience to the command of God that caused him to die. That act of disobedience cut him off from the life of God.
        However, if you are in agreement with me on that, I may have misunderstood what you go on to say about the serpent’s temptation. You say that the serpent’s temptation was not about gaining the knowledge of good and evil. I agree with you. It was more insidious than that. He made his appeal to Eve by insinuating that God was deceitful, and had commanded them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in order to keep them from being “like God, knowing good and evil. ” It was a lie. For one thing, they were already “like God.” They had been created in His image and likeness. So as you said, the error lay in listening to the wrong teacher. They may not have understood why their loving Creator had given them the commandment that they were not to eat of that tree. But they made a grave mistake in disobeying Him.

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        • Ellis Hein says:

          It seemed to me, Ellis, that you were challenging “the usual answer.” Yet it’s clear from Scripture that this is the very reason why man died. He disobeyed God. It was far more than that he fell victim to “gravity,” that is, fell victim to the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. That tree in itself was not evil. It was not the fruit of that tree that caused him to die. It was disobedience to the command of God that caused him to die. That act of disobedience cut him off from the life of God.

          Was it disobedience to God’s command that brought death to mankind? In a sense yes and in a sense no. I think to grapple with that question we must understand the reason behind the command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was the reason behind the command that had life and death consequences. God does not issue superfluous commands. Look at God’s lament in Deut. 5, “Oh that my people had such a heart in them that they would fear me always and keep my commandments that it might be well with them and with their children forever.” (Perhaps not an exact quote.) Yes, I agree that disobeying God is absolutely to be avoided. But the real consequences accrue because in acting contrary to God’s direction we bump up against things that harm or kill us, which God’s command was given to prevent. Now, in the case of the “fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” the agent of death was mankind turning away from the teaching of the Creator as the only source of the knowledge of Good and without this experiential knowledge we can’t be living beings. Humanity faces the same assault today even thought we have no tree. We are tempted to look in many different directions for our knowledge of Good–the wisdom of the ancients, the Bible, church leaders, political leaders, crystals, ourselves, etc. The consequences are just as devastating as they were in the beginning. Look also at Isaiah 54, “And all your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their well being.” (Again relying on memory and may not be an exact quote.)
          I think this is all I can say on this for now.

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          • Allan Halton says:

            You have said some good things here, Ellis, and I need to do some more thinking. I have just one question for now. Let’s suppose a hypothetical case. Suppose God had not given the commandment to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and suppose Eve and Adam had eaten of the tree. What would have happened? Would they have died or not?

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            • Ellis Hein says:

              Allan, I have never been any good at answering questions about hypothetical situations. My experience, non-hypothetical, indicates that God is completely trustworthy and can be depended upon to guide those who are willing to hear/obey his voice. There has always been good reason behind the guidance I have received and in what I have observed in the history of God’s dealing with humanity. It may be of interest to you, if you don’t already know it, but the Hebrew word we translate as “hear” or “obey” as in “Obey my voice” has connotations of both hearing and obeying. The definition also states something like “hear with intelligence.” We are invited to understand, at least in some measure, what is being laid out. Isaiah states God’s invitation, “Come, let us reason together.” Therefore it seems completely out of character that God would not give necessary guidance/command about something vital. This would be more in line with a capricious idol or mythological god seeking to trick man out of life.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Concerning the Romans 5:12 passage you speak of:

      Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin…

      In English and in the Greek used in this text “man” is not gender specific, but rather refers to a member of the human species, male or female. And in verse 14 where Paul mentions Adam (or at least it is that way in the RSV), the Hebrew we commonly translate as “Adam” (a specific person of male gender) is talking about a human, again not gender specific and not person specific.

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      • Allan Halton says:

        You are right that in verse 12 the Greek for “man” is anthropos, human being, which could be male or female. But it’s clear from the context of the chapter that Paul is contrasting two men– Adam and Christ. Adam as the head of the race, the old man, Christ as the head of a new race, the new man. Paul speaks of this in 1 Cor. 15. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Adam the first man, Christ the second man (1 Cor. 15:45,46). Fox spoke often of this.
        In 5:14 the Greek term is not anthropos, but Adam, referring to Adam himself.

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        • Ellis Hein says:

          As I pointed out, the Hebrew word was not person specific that we translate as Adam a proper name referring to one person. Somewhere along the line someone made that switch from a generic reference to making it a specific reference. So, yes Paul is talking about the first Adam and the second Adam. How much is his terminology influenced by the Hebrew meaning of Adam as mankind? I find it clear that the Second Adam is a reference to Christ. The first Adam could contain the Hebrew understand of the first humans. Death came by the first humans. The second human is a quickening spirit, the antidote to the action of the first humans, the true teacher who bruises the head of the false teacher.

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          • Allan Halton says:

            Hi Ellis. You said, “I find it clear that the Second Adam is a reference to Christ. The first Adam could contain the Hebrew understand of the first humans. Death came by the first humans. The second human is a quickening spirit, the antidote to the action of the first humans, the true teacher who bruises the head of the false teacher.”

            I agree with what you have said here except for two points.

            First, Paul never uses the words, “second Adam.” What he says is, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:45-47).

            The word Adam in this passage is the Greek Ἀδάμ. That is, Adam. The word for man is ἄνθρωπος. That is, anthropos. (I don’t know Greek but I do know how to copy/paste. 🙂
            So we have “the first anthropos, Adam…” The second Adam would have been Cain. Jesus Christ was the last Adam, the last of the race of Adam, which He brought to an end at the Cross. (This must be from an eternal viewpoint.) He was also the second man, the new man. So, Scripture speaks of these two men. The first man and the second man. The old man and the new man.

            Second, while I agree that the Hebrew usage for Adam can be “mankind,” in my view this is not the way Paul is using the word in 1 Corinthians or in Romans 5.
            Paul, as you yourself would certainly acknowledge, was steeped in Hebrew from his youth up. He would not have built his theology on something that could have been refuted by the Hebrew scholars of his day. And so when Paul says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22) he has in mind, not Adam and Eve, but Adam as federal head of the first man, and Christ as the federal head of the second man. Adam as federal head of the first man brought sin and death upon all those in that man. It was not Eve’s transgression that did that. It was Adam’s. Eve was not a co-head of the race with Adam. Eve herself came out of Adam. Eve’s sin, yes, it was the result of listening to the wrong teacher. The price of that was her own death. But it was not Eve’s sin that brought sin and death upon you and me. It was Adam’s. This is why Mary could give birth to a sinless Son, her firstborn, though she herself was a sinner of Adam’s race.

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            • Ellis Hein says:

              Thanks for the correction concerning “second Adam.” That is a term George Fox uses quite a bit in reference to Christ.
              I may or may not have more to say in response, but I must wait to see if it is worth saying or required.

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            • Ellis Hein says:

              OK Allan, this paragraph

              Paul, as you yourself would certainly acknowledge, was steeped in Hebrew from his youth up. He would not have built his theology on something that could have been refuted by the Hebrew scholars of his day. And so when Paul says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22) he has in mind, not Adam and Eve, but Adam as federal head of the first man, and Christ as the federal head of the second man. Adam as federal head of the first man brought sin and death upon all those in that man. It was not Eve’s transgression that did that. It was Adam’s. Eve was not a co-head of the race with Adam. Eve herself came out of Adam. Eve’s sin, yes, it was the result of listening to the wrong teacher. The price of that was her own death. But it was not Eve’s sin that brought sin and death upon you and me. It was Adam’s. This is why Mary could give birth to a sinless Son, her firstborn, though she herself was a sinner of Adam’s race.

              is the most convoluted, confused piece of man-made theology I have run across for a long time. As a young child I knew pureness and holiness and the abiding presence of Christ with me. When I sinned, choosing to eat the bread of this world, I needed the help of neither Adam nor Eve. My death came by my own act. My life regained came by the act of Christ restoring my ears that I could hear and follow his voice and eat the bread of life.
              “Mary could give birth to a sinless Son” because she was female. The female, not the male has the necessary equipment to nurture a fetus and bring it to term and then give birth. This has absolutely nothing to do with federal heads, sin, or who was made from whom. It is simple biology, established by the Creator. Sin is not transferred genetically.

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              • Allan Halton says:

                “…is the most convoluted, confused piece of man-made theology I have run across for a long time.” 😦
                What causes little babies to die?

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                • Allan Halton says:

                  Ellis, hopefully we can exchange comments without being derisive. If it comes to that I will not participate.
                  Apart from what I said about Mary, what you scorn as “the most convoluted, confused piece of man-made theology I have run across for a long time“ I hold to be sound scriptural teaching. I am not alone. The teaching of the two federal heads, the two men, the two races, the old man and the new, the first man and the second man… is the teaching of the apostle Paul (as for example in the profound divine reasoning of Romans 5:12-21) and many godly saints over the centuries have embraced this. Including George Fox himself. Although, as you said in the other comment, Fox spoke of the first Adam and the second Adam. It is an easy enough mistake to make. Many others have done this. Charles Wesley in one of his hymns has “Second Adam from above…” But Christ was not the second Adam. He was the last Adam. And the second man.

                  As to what I said about Mary, that was my own add-on, and is likely not set forth carefully enough. But I think it is grounded, my thought being that it was not a man from the line of Adam that was Christ’s father, yet Mary his mother, though in the line of Adam, and therefore herself born in sin (unless you believe the RC doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary), this did not mean her first-born son was born in sin. I agree that sin is not transferred genetically. It is not hereditary, but congenital, coming directly from Adam. That would make Mary a sinner of Adam’s race, for at that time she had not yet been born again. She was, like all others of Adams’s race, a sinner by nature. But even so, her first-born son was not born with indwelling sin.

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                  • Ellis Hein says:

                    Allan, I have not intended either derision or scorn; only absolute rejection of what you are saying as something that is false. Federal heads is not scriptural and is not something George Fox embraced. You refer to Romans 5:12-21 to establish the sound, scriptural standing of your position. Looking at verse 12, for example, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned…” All men sinned? Enoch? Job? Elijah? Noah, a preacher of righteousness? Abel, whose righteous blood cries up from the ground? Melchizedek? John the Baptist? How many others are there whom we know nothing about? Lets not leave out Romans 3:9-23. Paul begins quoting from Psalm 14 stating: “there is none that is righteous, no not one” and draws the conclusion that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” None righteous? does not the Psalmist state that God is with the generation of the righteous? This Psalm, as does Psalm 53, draws a contrast between the fools (who say there is no God, no one to hold them accountable for their deeds,) and God’s people, the generation of the righteous.
                    My experience says that mankind are not sinners by nature. Where there is sin, it is by choice rather than by nature. You can say that Paul contradicts me, but I will believe what I have lived and what the Lord has taught me. To accept something other, no matter how reasonable sounding, is to enter into the temptation of the serpent, to seek for some other source of knowledge of good that our dialogic relationship with the Creator. To accept something else than what the Lord has taught us is to eat the bread of this world and become blind and deaf, all the while thinking we are secure.
                    So Allan, this stuff you are saying (federal heads, all have sinned, the business about Mary, and so on) is false. The Lord woke me this morning with the compelling sense that I tell you the things I have written to you today.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      My final response to your comment.
      Again considering the Romans 5:12 text you quoted and the statement about death reigning from Adam to Moses from verse 14. “Death” as used in the text is either spiritual or physical in both instances. The death referred to is not the death of the physical body but the death man encounters when they turn their backs upon the life that comes only by hearing the Creator. It is this death that reigned from Adam to Moses, that reigns still in the hearts of mankind who are not turned to know/experience Christ come in all his offices.

      Thank you for making me look critically at all this

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      • Allan Halton says:

        I agree. it is a spiritual death. But as we know, it eventually catches up with our bodies. It took 930 years to catch up to Adam. In our day it takes substantially less time. But even with that, those who have Life in them anticipate the Life within one day reaching even to the physical body. Glorious hope!

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  4. Allan Halton says:

    Hi Ellis, thank you for stating your position clearly. I have wondered for a long time just what your stand was concerning what is termed “original sin.” You and I are not “on the same page” concerning this. You state, “My experience says that mankind are not sinners by nature.” Personally I seek to go by something more reliable than my experience—the word of God. And I wonder, then, if all mankind are not sinners by nature, how you account for the fact that all men die—even little babies who have never had the chance to commit a sin. Regarding all the illustrations you gave of righteous men, not one of them was righteous by nature (for, according to the Scriptures, there is no such creature, excepting of course the Son of God) but by the provision of God to become so by hearing His voice and responding by faith.

    It is also deeply concerning to me, Ellis, that once again (as in private correspondence by email a couple of years ago) you call in question the teaching of the apostle Paul. I find this disturbing. I am most certainly not on the same page with you on this, and you can be sure that George Fox was not either.

    As to federal headship, it appears we are not on the same page regarding this either, Ellis. I find this a profound revelation—the two federal heads, Adam and Christ. So do many many others. So, if I am a heretic, I am in good company, as you may discover for yourself via a Google search on federal headship. Here’s a link; there are others:

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=adam+as+federal+head&qs=BT&pq=adam+as+federal&sc=6-15&cvid=C5CB5E7A89B54954A7A68D5D1C982288&FORM=QBRE&sp=1&ghc=1

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  5. Ellis Hein says:

    Allan, the created nature of the human is a being with whom God speaks, a being in whom God’s life and light abide. This is our created state, our natural state. In this created state, “good” and “evil” are defined by this conversational relationship. Everything that does not have its rise in this conversational relationship with the Word, the creator of all, is evil. Sin is a corruption of this created state. John stated, “In the beginning was the Word…In him was life and the life was the light of man…This was the true light that enlightens everyone that comes into the world.” All who receive this light that is the life that comes from the Word are given the power to become sons of God. The condemnation is hating the light and preferring the darkness because the light exposes us. In the darkness we can act as our own God. Life is in loving the light bringing our deeds into line with what the light teaches us. Righteousness is the outward expression of the inward experience of being taught by the Lord. Out of the abundance of the heart not only does the mouth speaks but also the hands act. You are not “in Adam” or “in the fall” unless you are in the corruption of the true nature of the human. That corruption begins when you turn from the light, which is Christ in you to teach you the way of life. Sin comes by corruption and thus death. Though sin can destroy the physical body, the death that comes through sin is something more insidious. We become an empty shell without the light and life of our creation. In that condition, humanity begins to patch together man-made theologies, “fig leaves,” to hid their nakedness, their lifelessness.

    This dialogic relationship with the Word is the experience I speak of. This experience you term unreliable. You turn to someone elses experience which you read about in the Bible, which you call the word of God. But unless you live in the same life of reliable dialog with Christ, who alone is the Word of God, and unless you rely on that experience, the words in the book will do you no good.

    By doubting the reliability and the validity of the experience of this dialogic relationship with the Word, you enter into man-made theologies and doctrines. These are only revealed for what they are by the light of Christ, by experiencing this light within you, by trusting the work of this light. You will not see them by my arguments. Questioning the validity and reliability of what is revealed in the light, your eyes become blinded and your ears dull. It does not matter how much “good company” you have. A multitude of blind people can see no better than a single blind man.

    Now concerning the teaching of the Apostle Paul, I call into question the distortions that puport to be based on the Pauline writings, such things as total depravity of man and original sin. You have rightly pointed out that Paul was not insensible to adequate scholarship. So why would he have quoted from either Psalm 14 or 53 to establish as fact “there are none righteous, no not one” when the Psalmist declares the opposite of that assertion (God is with the generation of the righteous)? You can’t have no one righteous at the same time you have a generation of righteous. Romans 3:10-18 is a series of partial quotations from Psalms 14 and 53, 5 and 140, 10, 59, and 36. In each of these Psalms there is either an explicit or implicit comparison between the righteous and the unrighteous or a cry for deliverance from the hand of the unrighteous, which denotes the existence of righteousness. This does not add up to “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The sources Paul quotes does not support that conclusion. The conclusion does not follow from the proof. Given that Paul was not an inadequate logician or lacking in scholarship, something has not come through the intervening 2000 years since the letter was written.

    Yes, the sin of seeking to be Gods in our own eyes, to be our own source of the knowledge of good and evil, denoted in the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, has had profound implications for the world. This is a decision that each person faces rather than a foregone conclusion that by nature man is going to seek to be their own gods. Paul states in the opening paragraphs of his letter to the Romans that God’s invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen and understood through what has been made. In light of this, some, “by nature”, do the things contained in the law, who persevere in doing good seeking for “glory and immortality”. These are rewarded with eternal life. And by nature these come to be the inward Jew and to know circumcision of the heart. These are the many who come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. These are they who judge the Jew outward that keeps the letter of the law but does not know the operation of the law upon the heart. The Jew outward is cast out of the kingdom into outer darkness.

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  6. Allan Halton says:

    First of all, Ellis, with regard to this that you said: “Now concerning the teaching of the Apostle Paul, I call into question the distortions that purport to be based on the Pauline writings, such things as total depravity of man and original sin. You have rightly pointed out that Paul was not insensible to adequate scholarship. So why would he have quoted from either Psalm 14 or 53 to establish as fact “there are none righteous, no not one” when the Psalmist declares the opposite of that assertion (God is with the generation of the righteous)? You can’t have no one righteous at the same time you have a generation of righteous. Romans 3:10-18 is a series of partial quotations from Psalms 14 and 53, 5 and 140, 10, 59, and 36. In each of these Psalms there is either an explicit or implicit comparison between the righteous and the unrighteous or a cry for deliverance from the hand of the unrighteous, which denotes the existence of righteousness. This does not add up to “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The sources Paul quotes does not support that conclusion. The conclusion does not follow from the proof. Given that Paul was not an inadequate logician or lacking in scholarship, something has not come through the intervening 2000 years since the letter was written.”

    That is an astute observation—that these psalms make mention of the righteous. But as to the conclusion you draw, I’m not sure what you are saying. Are you suggesting that the Scriptures we have are not what Paul originally wrote? If so we might as well throw out our Bibles. It’s a serious charge but where is the evidence of this. It would require clear evidence. “Something has not come through…” will not suffice to call in question the Scriptures as we have them. Let me give you my thoughts. It is true that the psalms Paul quotes from make open or implied reference to the righteous. But I do not conclude that what Paul wrote 2000 years ago is not what we now have, or that “something has not come through…” whatever that means. In my view the righteous in those psalms were not righteous by nature; they had become righteous by obeying God. The “generation of the righteous” had themselves been in that other “generation” of which Paul says “there is none that doeth good, no not one.” The righteous had become righteous by turning to God and receiving His provision for sin. Even “righteous Abel,” as Jesus Himself called him, was not righteous by nature, but because he “by faith… had offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). If Abel had been righteous, why would he have been conscious of something within—no mention is made of any specific sin he committed—that made him aware he needed to make the sacrifice of a lamb? It was his sacrifice by which he “obtained witness that he was righteous,” and we are told that it was “by faith” that he made this sacrifice. So it must have been something that God had revealed to him or spoken to him about, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Of course the blood of an animal cannot atone for his sin; only the blood of Christ can do that; the sacrifice of the lamb was something God received back then in view of the coming sacrifice of the Lamb of God. In my view it’s along this line that these psalms speak of the righteous. Along the same line, by “the generation of the righteous” the psalmist could have had in mind the descendants of Abraham, or any who have the faith of Abraham, to whom God imputed righteousness because of his faith (Gen. 15:6). This had Christ in view, who is the propitiation by which God in His forbearance passed over “the sins that are past,” that is, of all those before Christ, and by which He also showed Himself just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus in the present time (Rom. 3:23-26). It is this “righteousness of faith,” I would say, that characterized the “generation of the righteous,” not something they had by nature. I suspect you will not be happy with this explanation, but it is entirely scriptural from Genesis to Revelation. It is by faith alone that human beings are justified (declared righteous) in God’s sight, and this righteousness of faith is available to all human beings, all in Adam, who recognize their sin and turn to God, whether Jews or Gentiles.

    So Paul’s quotations stand applicable to all human beings. In another place Paul states, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
    Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
    Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:1-3).

    “We all,” he says. All human beings are “sons of the disobedience,” and therefore “by nature children of wrath.”

    So when Paul says that “the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law…” he is not saying that the Gentiles are righteous by nature. No one of Adam’s race is righteous by nature. Paul is simply saying that all human beings have a conscience, and to the extent that they have light within, they may do what is right. That’s apparent in our world around us. For example, millions of Gentiles care for their children and do them good and feed them, even though by nature they are evil, as Jesus Himself said: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Mt. 7:11). Why would Jesus say they were evil in spite of the good things they did? It was because of something they were “by nature.” That is, by “the fall.” And that’s why He came. To redeem mankind from that.

    In like manner, what you said about those who know the circumcision of the heart, these are those who enter the kingdom of God, while those who know only outward circumcision are cast out… this is true. However, neither the outward circumcision is by nature, nor is the inward circumcision by nature. These are subsequent to the natural state of all those in Adam.

    You said, “You are not “in Adam” or “in the fall” unless you are in the corruption of the true nature of the human.”

    Every single human being that ever lived is in Adam, is in the fall, is in that “corruption of the true nature of the human.” That’s why all in Adam die. That’s why Christ came to redeem us. Right here is a good place to remind you, Ellis, that still haven’t answered my question as to why little babies die. Since death is a judicial sentence, why do little babies who have never sinned die? (This of course opens other questions, for they are certainly not culpable.) May I answer it for you? It’s because they were born “in Adam” upon whom a sentence of death has been passed. That’s my answer. What is yours?

    I was born “in Adam,” Ellis, and I suspect you were too. 🙂 That was my first birth, and yours. But I am now no longer in Adam. Having experienced the new birth, being born of the Spirit, I am now in Christ, and if you know the new birth you are too.

    So this—the teaching of federal headship—is another place you and I, as you made clear in an earlier comment, see very differently. You want nothing to do with it. I find it a powerful revelation. Paul uses the words “in Christ” or similar words like “in Him” or “in Whom…” something like one hundred times in his epistles. So to set aside the federal headship of Christ is to call in question pretty much the whole of Paul’s epistles. And the federal headship of Christ has its significance relative to the federal headship of Adam, whom, Paul says, “is the figure of Him that was to come” (Rom. 5:14). What a statement. As many times as I’ve read it I am awed by the divine logic of Romans 5:12-21.

    So, Ellis, please don’t dismiss federal headship out of hand. It is true that “a multitude of blind people can see no better than a single blind man.” But please don’t leave out the possibility that you yourself are the blind one. All those “in Christ” are heirs of the life and righteousness of Christ. There are many in Christ who were formerly “in Adam.” All those in Adam—all human beings—are born sinners because they were in Adam when Adam sinned. Yet all sinners have a conscience. To the extent that they have light, that conscience will convict them of sin that they may turn from their sin, and seek the righteousness of faith, the righteousness of God in Christ.

    Now with regard to this: “This dialogic relationship with the Word is the experience I speak of. This experience you term unreliable. You turn to someone else’s experience which you read about in the Bible, which you call the word of God. But unless you live in the same life of reliable dialog with Christ, who alone is the Word of God, and unless you rely on that experience, the words in the book will do you no good.” This is your explanation of your earlier statement that “My experience says that mankind are not sinners by nature. Where there is sin, it is by choice rather than by nature. You can say that Paul contradicts me, but I will believe what I have lived and what the Lord has taught me.”

    As to “This dialogic relationship with the Word is the experience I speak of. This experience you term unreliable. You turn to someone else’s experience which you read about in the Bible, which you call the word of God.” I call the Scriptures the word of God because that’s what Jesus calls them (Mark 7:13). And no, I don’t call the “dialogic relationship” unreliable; it is essential—but so are the Scriptures that God has given us as a witness to the living Word. What is unreliable is to go by the dialogic relationship while disregarding or twisting Scripture. So, when you say, “But unless you live in the same life of reliable dialog with Christ, who alone is the Word of God, and unless you rely on that experience, the words in the book will do you no good,” that doesn’t get it quite right. The importance of the Scriptures is that they are the indispensible witness to the “dialogic relationship with the Word” Himself. Who denies the importance of that dialogic relationship? I enjoy it myself and could not live without it, would not want to. But without the verification of the Scriptures, I may find myself “dialoguing” with I know not what, calling “inner light” any number of things that Scripture repudiates, as many modern-day Quakers do. Apparently you can be a Quaker and a Buddhist or a New-ager! So, yes, the experience of the dialogic relationship with the living Christ is essential—but so are the Scriptures that God has given to guard us against error. You know as well as I do that George Fox was steeped in Scripture; he could hardly form a sentence without Scripture in it, because the Scriptures bore witness to the Light he proclaimed. He would certainly not set aside the Scriptures if they happened to contradict something an inner light or voice were speaking to him. He would repudiate that if inner voice as coming from the one who presents himself as an angel of light.

    And so, Ellis, be mindful lest you yourself fall into the same error of modern-day Quakers who go by the “light within” even though it is far removed from what the Scriptures teach. How is “the light within” to be judged, if not by the Scriptures? If it does not have the witness of the Scriptures, it is a false light. Christ Himself confirmed this when He stated that the Scriptures bore witness of Him. I know people who have dreams and visions and get “words from the Lord” and say, “the Lord said to me this,” or “the Lord showed me that…” But the Spirit within me doesn’t bear witness to what they are saying. Is that enough? No, I must always have the further witness of the Scriptures that clinches my inner witness.

    Finally let me conclude with this—the difference between what Bible scholars call exegesis and hermeneutics. Exegesis is finding out what the Scriptures actually say—not always an easy task; hermeneutics is the interpretation of the Scriptures. And it must be based on thorough exegesis. And so, for example—and I am repeating here what I brought up earlier—what you said in an earlier comment, “As I pointed out, the Hebrew word was not person specific that we translate as Adam a proper name referring to one person. Somewhere along the line someone made that switch from a generic reference to making it a specific reference. So, yes Paul is talking about the first Adam and the second Adam. How much is his terminology influenced by the Hebrew meaning of Adam as mankind? I find it clear that the Second Adam is a reference to Christ. The first Adam could contain the Hebrew understand of the first humans.” I suppose you are right. But is that what Paul had in mind? That is only your hermeneutics, your interpretation of Paul’s usage of the words. (I’ve never come across it anywhere else, by the way.) Taking what Paul says simply “on its face,” he is contrasting two men. Adam and Christ. Both singular. I base that on exegesis—the way Paul is plainly using the words not only in this context but in other places where he speaks of this—and that leads me to the interpretation I’ve given. It simply will not “hold water” to say things like “Somewhere along the line someone made that switch from a generic reference to making it a specific reference.” Where? When? Or, “Given that Paul was not an inadequate logician or lacking in scholarship, something has not come through the intervening 2000 years since the letter was written.” Where? When? Where is the evidence of this? These might be interesting hermeneutics—interpretations of the passages—but they are speculative, and not grounded on adequate exegesis.

    So now I’ll stop, Ellis. I’m not sure I have too much more to say; I’ve sought to give you my own hermeneutics based on what I feel is good exegesis. I’ll leave it with you now.

    Cordially,
    Allan

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Allan,
      I will first get to your question of why babies die. Your answer is that it is because they, like the whole of the human race, are born in Adam, have a sinful nature. This argument will not stand. The infant mortality rate of the U.S. is 0.5614%. Lets round that off to 0.6%. That means that 6 babies die while 994 babies live for every 1000 births. Lets leave aside causes of death like poverty, malnutrition, drug induced defects etc. There are still babies that die, but that statistic will be smaller than the 0.6%. If you are going to speculate, which you are doing, choose the strong side of the argument. It is a much stronger argument to state that the 994 live babies per 1000 births prove that babies are not born “in Adam,” since they did not die. But arguments aside, the physical is not eternal. Even our sun will not last forever. Solar evolution is a part of God’s creation. It has been going on long before our sun existed, which began long before humans evolved on this planet we call Earth. Now, I have stated in previous comments that I knew righteousness and holiness as a very young child. I experienced, often, Christ’s voice in those days giving me understanding of things beyond my years. Those first years were years of life, not death. I will not lie in order to agree with you or with what Romans 3 or Ephesians 2 says. I will not claim that I am unique, the only one to know righteousness and holiness “from birth”.

      Another loose end to tie up before getting back to Paul’s statements we have been discussing. You state, “I call the Scriptures the word of God because that’s what Jesus calls them (Mark 7:13).” No, Jesus was not speaking of the scriptures in that statement, rather he was referring to that basic experience of “hear/obey my voice and I will be your God…”

      You go on to state, “But without the verification of the Scriptures, I may find myself “dialoguing” with I know not what, calling “inner light” any number of things that Scripture repudiates, as many modern-day Quakers do. Apparently you can be a Quaker and a Buddhist or a New-ager! So, yes, the experience of the dialogic relationship with the living Christ is essential—but so are the Scriptures that God has given to guard us against error.” Jesus told the parable of the shepherd, signifying the relationship between himself and those who follow. In this parable he stated,

      “…[the shepherd] calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

      If you can’t tell the difference between the voice of the shepherd and the stranger, you are not sheep belonging to the flock of the shepherd. The scriptures do not validate the voice of the shepherd. The shepherd validates his own voice by leading the sheep in the pastures of life, by protecting them from the wolf, by correcting those who would wander.

      You ask, “How is the light within to be judged if not by the scriptures?” Allan, this is backward. The light of Christ within is the judge of all things. This is the witness of scripture. Multitudes have proffessed scripture from Genesis to Revelation and stumbled at the door to the kingdom because they turned from the light that would judge them. The light of Christ shinning within the heart of mankind is not the same thing you are referring to as “inner light.” “Inner light” is supposedly some inate part of the human makeup, part of our inventory, by which we can access divine wisdom. The light of Christ within is not of human makeup, but comes to man as that which gives life and light. It was there in the beginning making humanity living beings. It is here now making humanity into living beings, all who will yield to its work. If you walk in this light, you need fear no deception for the light of Christ makes all things manifest. Your fears of dialoguing with you know not what, if that is actually your condition, speak of lack of experience of and lack of trust in the work of Christ’s light within yourself.

      The scriptures are not given to guard against error, as you state. Rather this is the work of Christ himself present in and among us in all his offices, which takes place in and through his light. Saul of Tarsus was saturated in scripture and was a great persecutor of the early Christians. It was encountering the risen Lord, not scripture, that rescued him from his error.

      Now, getting back to Paul’s statement, “all have sinned…” You’re using circular arguments. I will take for the purpose the Romans 3 passage. Look again at the statement, “there are none righteous, no not one,” which the notes in the Bible say comes from Psalm 14 or 53. But Psalm 14 says that God is with the generation of the righteous. In both places, Romans and Psalms, these are blanket statements, no other qualifications, no suggestion of sinful by nature or not sinful by nature. These statements are contradictory. You argue that righteousness comes by faith not by nature. I have been telling you all along that righteousness is the result of walking with the Creator. Have you read and understood my statement in this blog wherein I say, “The righteousness or the sin comes not with the deeds but with the teacher of those deeds”? But back to these contradictory statements. The circular reasoning is that you apply Paul’s conclusion to the statement “God is with the generation of the righteous” to say that before they were righteous, they were in the generation of the sinful. (You know this because Paul says so.) Now, using this doctored premis, you go on to “prove” Paul’s conclusion.

      Lets also look at your handling of righteous Abel. You do not take into account the full picture we are given. Look at Cain, who was angry that his offering was not accepted. God spoke to him saying,

      “…Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

      There are two paths laid out before Cain. “If thou doest well…” is one path. The result of following this path is acceptance by the Creator. There is no mention of sin. There is no mention of using a different sacrifice. The only condition is “do well.” The only criteria for doing well is living in this dialogue with the Creator.

      “If thou doest not well…” is the other possible path. Here, sin comes into the picture. But where is sin? inside and part of Cain’s nature or outside? Sin is only lying outside the door if Cain does not do well. On this path Cain’s assignment is to master sin. This, again, is only possible by living in this dialogue with the Creator.

      This does not support the conclusion that Cain and Abel had a sin nature or that all have sinned. This story illustrates the choice given every human, the choice outlined in John 3:16-21.

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  7. Allan Halton says:

    Hi Ellis. This is a long response; my hope is that in explaining myself more fully I’m doing so more clearly. It would be wonderful if we could both come the place where we are “perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment.” In any case, I hold to the old adage: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” That last one is my attitude toward you in the things we differ on.

    So, to start. To make reading easier I have numbered the sections below, aware that I’ve been repetitive in some of them.

    You do not consider the scriptures to be the word of God. I affirm them to be the word of God. With regard to my statement that “I call the Scriptures the word of God because that’s what Jesus calls them (Mark 7:13),” you responded, “No, Jesus was not speaking of the scriptures in that statement, rather he was referring to that basic experience of “hear/obey my voice and I will be your God…” Ellis, read the passage in context; it is the scriptures that Jesus is referring to. “For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” (Mk 7:10-13). It’s interesting that Jesus said, “For Moses said…” and then quotes scripture, which He then calls “the word of God.”

    But add to Mark 7:13 this one: “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken…” (Jn. 10:35). This is Jesus, again equating the scriptures with the word of God.

    Of course you are right—it is God’s voice that must be obeyed. But it was the voice of God that inspired Moses to write the scriptures that Jesus called the word of God. So I wonder what you think you gain by discounting the scriptures to be the word of God. Yes, it’s vitally important to read them in the Spirit that giveth life and not in “the letter that killeth.”

    However, not to press this point further, if you insist that the scriptures are not the word of God, do you at least acknowledge that the scriptures, including both the Old Testament and the New, in their original languages are the Spirit-inspired writings given by the Word?

    To continue now with something further with regard to the scriptures. You wrote, “I will not lie in order to agree with you or with what Romans 3 or Ephesians 2 says.” This is an astonishing statement. I hope I am misunderstanding you; in an earlier comment you said, “Now concerning the teaching of the Apostle Paul, I call into question the distortions that purport to be based on the Pauline writings, such things as total depravity of man and original sin.” This seems to be saying that you have no question with regard to the writings themselves. So what is it? Surely you cannot be saying that if your experience differs with the scriptures Paul wrote, it is the scriptures that you discount. Are you saying that? This is not something George Fox ever did, at least to my knowledge. Do you not agree with George Fox, who wrote time and time again of the Spirit that the apostles and prophets were in when they wrote the scriptures?

    For example, “…the same spirit that the prophets and apostles were in who gave forth the scriptures…” Journal 1, page 140. And, “…that none can understand their writings aright, without the same spirit by which they were written…. For I saw that the light and spirit which was before the scriptures were given forth, and which led the holy men of
    god to give them forth, that all must come to that spirit, if they would know God or Christ, or the scriptures aright, with they that gave them forth were led and taught by.” Journal 1 page 89

    These quotations and many others like these show that Fox considered the scriptures to be inspired by the Spirit of God. I agree with him, as do countless others. I hold that the writings of the apostle Paul were inspired by Paul hearing the voice of his Teacher, as were the writings of Peter, who himself acknowledged Paul’s epistles to be scripture (2 Pt. 3:15-16). Further to that, I am consciously aware that my Teacher by His Spirit in me has opened my understanding not once or twice to what is written—the very thing Fox said was essential to understanding them. The scriptures can only be understood by revelation (which is the same as to say by the Teacher speaking to the heart). It is precious when this happens, and I thank Him for it.

    I’m truly perplexed as to your stand on this, Ellis. I wonder if it has to do with your difficulty understanding and accepting the theology of Paul. Do you not consider at least the possibility that this is where the problem lies—you are not understanding Paul? That you need the further revelation of the Spirit that opens to your understanding what was in the mind of God when He inspired Paul to write what he wrote? Surely, or so it seems to me, if you understood you would heartily accept what he has written.

    Now to move on.

    You said, “It is a much stronger argument to state that the 994 live babies per 1000 births prove that babies are not born “in Adam,” since they did not die.” It looks like you have missed my point. Present-day U.S. birth stats prove nothing. What about other nations? What about throughout the history of the world? In any case, the rate of infant mortality has nothing to do with it. The fact remains that death is the lot of all those in Adam; all human beings of Adam’s race die, and it is not because of their own individual sin, it’s because of Adam’s sin. The fact that little babies die makes that clear. They never had the opportunity to do good or evil, yet they die. It’s because they were born human, that is, of the race of Adam. Yes, the death that sin brought upon Adam (and therefore upon all men) was in the first place a spiritual death—a disconnect with his Creator. But this also meant physical death in due time. And so Paul states that “death reigned from Adam to Moses even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression…” In other words, before the law was given at Sinai, there were some who had not transgressed a law the way Adam did (who had been given a commandment), yet they still died. Why? It’s because, being members of Adam, a “law of sin and death” was at work in them. Likewise, when babies or little children who for some reason or other die, it’s not because they transgressed a law, but because “death reigns” in all those who are in Adam. Paul again: “As in Adam all die…” (1 Cor. 15:22). Thank you Jesus, that that is not the end of the story!

    You said, “But arguments aside, the physical is not eternal. Even our sun will not last forever.” Yes, I know. One day this whole created universe will be gone. It is temporal. But “he that does the will of God abides forever.” This means that those who do the will of God, those who have “the earnest [the pledge, the guarantee] of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 5:5, see also Rom. 8:11) will one day be clothed upon with a body that is no longer subject to death. Even now those who are “in Christ,” though still in mortal bodies, have eternal life. “And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life…” (1 Jn. 5:11,12). This eternal life within has not yet extended to the physical body, but the Spirit that dwells within those who have received the gift of the Spirit is God’s promise and pledge that one day the redemption that is in Christ Jesus shall reach to the physical body. Because of the Spirit within, one day their mortal bodies shall be “quickened,” that is, made alive with the life of Christ, and no longer subject to death. All this is because it was never God’s intention that his creature man should die, either spiritually or physically. But through the wiles of the Serpent it happened to man—first spiritually and then physically. But when it happened, God was not taken by surprise. He already had in mind “the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). (His eternal purpose is not in Adam, but in Christ.) God foresaw a day when He would put all enemies under Christ’s feet. Death is an enemy, and when all enemies are put under Christ’s feet, death shall be “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26). Meanwhile we who have the Spirit and do the will of God, hearing the voice of our Shepherd and following Him, abide in eternal life, knowing that more, much more, is yet to come.

    You said, “Now, I have stated in previous comments that I knew righteousness and holiness as a very young child. I experienced, often, Christ’s voice in those days giving me understanding of things beyond my years. Those first years were years of life, not death.” I don’t have a problem with this. God gives grace to enable this, and although rare, you are not alone. George Fox had a similar childhood, apparently. But he also spoke of a “condition” that he had, and which was without remedy apart from One who could speak to that condition.

    Let me quote what he wrote about it, into which I have spliced a couple of remarks in square brackets: “And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do; then Oh! then I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.’ When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been [Fox is echoing Paul here: Rom 3:9, 7:14, Gal. 3:22, Rom. 11:32], that Jesus Christ might have pre-eminence, who enlightens, and gives grace, faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it? This I knew experimentally. My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the scriptures that spake of Christ and of God yet I knew him not but by revelation [Amen], as he who hath the key did open, and as the Father of life drew me to see his love, which was endless and eternal, surpassing all knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can get by history or books.” (Journal 1, page 74)

    The “condition” Fox wrote of is what Paul calls indwelling sin (Rom. 7:17). Oswald Chambers’ definition of sin—and I believe this to be scriptural—is “the disposition to live independently of God.” That is, to be one’s own god, taking upon oneself to decide what is good and what is evil. “Behold,” said David by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51:5). This disposition, we are told, “entered the world…” Meaning that it came from elsewhere, even from the first sinner, the Devil; “…the Devil sinneth from the beginning” (1 Jn. 3:8). I believe it is this beginning that we read of in Isaiah Ch. 14, which recounts Lucifer proclaiming his intention to “be like the Most High.” He was not created with that disposition, he fell into it, and his very name was changed from Lucifer, light-bearer, to Satan, the Devil, the adversary. That same disposition of sin the Devil succeeded in bringing into the world “by one man.” And so, neither was Adam created with that disposition; he brought it upon himself by disobedience. Consequently it is in all who are born “in Adam.” It is the disposition, “the sin” which, if given its way, results in “sins.” That is, in acts of sin. However, man has a conscience, and need not give “the sin” its way, as Cain did. God had told him that if he “did well,” he would be accepted, but if he did not, “sin lieth at the door, and its desire is for you, and you must master it” (Gen. 4:7).

    Reading this over, I think I must make something clear. In the above quote where Fox wrote of being “under sin,” this of course no longer applies to those in Christ. Those in Christ are not “under sin,” they are “under” something else: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Paul is addressing those who are “in Christ.” The disposition of sin is only in those who are “in Adam.” It is no longer in those who are “in Christ.” Those in Christ have Christ’s disposition, who loves and delights to do the will of God; they are born of the Spirit, of the Word, and have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, not indwelling sin. “Know ye not,” says Paul, “that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16). How could it be possible for the Spirit of Christ to dwell in the same house with indwelling sin? What I am saying is that one cannot be “in Adam” and “in Christ” at the same time. It is either one or the other. Meaning that from God’s point of view, there are only two races in the earth—those in Adam and those in Christ. Those in the old man and those in the New. One cannot be in the New man and still in the old. Those in the old man have the heritage of that man—sin and death. Those in the New have the heritage of the New: His righteousness and eternal life. This does not mean that those in Christ cannot be tempted and commit a sin. (For even Christ was tempted, and could have sinned, but did not.) But IF (not WHEN) they sin—for it is not necessary that they sin—they have “an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:1,2). In other words, to have slipped and sinned does not mean that one who is in Christ is back in Adam again. Those in Christ have a different disposition, a different propensity, one of righteousness. (John, by the way, like Paul, also writes of being “in Christ,” although he doesn’t use that phrase specifically, but rather “abide in Him.” In fact this very perspective originates in Christ Himself, who said, “Abide in Me…”)

    You said, “Now, getting back to Paul’s statement, “all have sinned…” You’re using circular arguments.” Thanks for pointing this out to me. Perhaps you are right. I will do some more thinking about why those psalms make mention of the righteous one way or another. Because, friend Ellis, I reject your line of reasoning—that somehow the apostle Paul got it wrong, or if not that, what Paul actually meant has long since been lost to us, or, to quote your own words: “This does not add up to ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ The sources Paul quotes does not support that conclusion. The conclusion does not follow from the proof. Given that Paul was not an inadequate logician or lacking in scholarship, something has not come through the intervening 2000 years since the letter was written.” (End of your quote.) I reject that, and will wait upon my Teacher to reveal to me what He meant when He inspired the apostle to write what he wrote. That is the way to come to understand this—further revelation from the One who inspired both the psalms and the epistles of Paul. I for one would be happy to receive it from anyone who has more light than I do on this matter (the Spirit of truth bearing witness within me, of course, that what they are speaking is from the Truth Himself).
    You took issue with my question, “How is the light within to be judged if not by the scriptures?” You responded, “Allan, this is backward. The light of Christ within is the judge of all things.”

    But Ellis, again, the concern I am having with some of the things you are saying is that when you have a problem with what the apostle Paul is saying, you set that at nought, as I said last time. Can it be that the “light of Christ within” you is, apparently, calling Paul in question? How can this be, for He inspired Paul to write what he wrote. My contention is that the light of Christ within, yes, it is indispensible, but the true light will always be in harmony with the scriptures of truth. If, then, something I am maintaining differs from the scriptures, it has to be my own understanding that is defective, not the scriptures. And really, if that is the case, if it is my own understanding that is in the dark, the light of Christ within will surely convict me of that—and I for my part must be sensitive and honest and willing to receive the light. It will not do, Ellis, to find fault with the scriptures in order to maintain a doctrine, a teaching, one holds. It is to your peril that you set aside the scriptures in order to do that. I for one will not do it. What I will do is continue to pray my Teacher to open the eyes of my understanding to see “in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” By that I include not only the Old Testament but also the scriptures the Holy Spirit gave us by the apostle Paul.

    Ellis, there is powerful, spiritually enriching truth in the epistles of Paul. I urge you not to cheat yourself of it.

    You said, “You argue that righteousness comes by faith not by nature. I have been telling you all along that righteousness is the result of walking with the Creator. Have you read and understood my statement in this blog wherein I say, “The righteousness or the sin comes not with the deeds but with the teacher of those deeds”?”
    I don’t recall that I actually said that righteousness comes by faith not by nature. I have read and do understand what you said, and agree with you that the deeds, which are sins, come from hearkening to the wrong teacher, and that walking with the Creator means righteousness. This is what the walk of faith is all about. “If we say we have fellowship with Him (that is, walk with Him) and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth. But If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). The thing is that it is in being justified (declared righteous) by faith in Him that is the foundation for a righteous walk. Because of the sacrifice of my sin offering—Jesus Christ Himself—God justifies me, declares me righteous. (It’s quite something that both in the Hebrew and the Greek the word for “sin” and “sin offering” are the same. When my sin offering died, my sin died with Him.) Apart from that sacrifice, righteousness is impossible for all of Adam’s race.
    Now about Cain and Abel. You said, and I quote, “Let’s also look at your handling of righteous Abel. You do not take into account the full picture we are given. Look at Cain, who was angry that his offering was not accepted. God spoke to him saying,
    “…Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
    There are two paths laid out before Cain. “If thou doest well…” is one path. The result of following this path is acceptance by the Creator. There is no mention of sin. There is no mention of using a different sacrifice. The only condition is “do well.” The only criteria for doing well is living in this dialogue with the Creator.
    “If thou doest not well…” is the other possible path. Here, sin comes into the picture. But where is sin? inside and part of Cain’s nature or outside? Sin is only lying outside the door if Cain does not do well. On this path Cain’s assignment is to master sin. This, again, is only possible by living in this dialogue with the Creator.
    This does not support the conclusion that Cain and Abel had a sin nature or that all have sinned. This story illustrates the choice given every human, the choice outlined in John 3:16-21. (End of your quote.)

    But Ellis, you yourself “are not taking into account the full picture we are given.” I explained this in my last comment. Righteous Abel was considered righteous on the basis of the offering he made. He realized he needed to make an offering, yet there is no mention made of any specific sin he had committed. It was because he was convicted of a condition within, and the only way it could be remedied was by offering in faith the offering of a lamb. The same goes for Cain. As you pointed out, there is no mention of Cain having sinned. But there was “something” missing in the offering he had made; it was “unto Cain and to his offering” that God did not “have respect,” he had not “done well.” It’s clear, at least to me, that his “doing well” and thereby being “accepted” involved his making the same “more excellent sacrifice” his brother had made, that sacrifice being a sincere expression of the heart within, and not just an outward thing and therefore hypocrisy. Righteousness apart from this kind of sacrifice is impossible for all those in Adam. Otherwise Christ needed not to die for all mankind. Certainly there were many who walked in faith prior to Christ offering Himself for our sins on Calvary—Enoch, Noah, Abraham… but in fact Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Pt. 1:18-21). Also Rev. 13:8. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

    I am done, Ellis, except to conclude with a further quote from you which I like very much. You wrote: “The light of Christ shinning within the heart of mankind is not the same thing you are referring to as “inner light.” “Inner light” is supposedly some innate part of the human makeup, part of our inventory, by which we can access divine wisdom. The light of Christ within is not of human makeup, but comes to man as that which gives life and light. It was there in the beginning making humanity living beings. It is here now making humanity into living beings, all who will yield to its work.”

    Thank you for explaining this to me; it has cleared up a misunderstanding. I have felt that the Quakers believed the light of Christ to be in man from birth. That cannot be, but from birth there is certainly the light of conscience in every man by which he may receive or reject the true light. In any case I agree with all you have said here, but it leaves me scratching my head, because are you not in full agreement with Paul here? You say that the light “…is here now making humanity into living beings, all who will yield to its work.” Amen. I fully agree. But this means they had to be dead before being made into living beings, just as Paul wrote in Ephesians Chapter 2 (“And you who were dead in trespasses and sins yet now hath he quickened…”) and elsewhere. That is what the Gospel, the Good News, is all about. How thankful we are for this!

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  8. Ellis Hein says:

    Allan,

    Honor your father and mother is not binding because Moses said it but because this was the command from God. It is this command from God that is the word of God that the tradition would set at naught. And your reference to John 10:35, “‘If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken…’ (Jn. 10:35). This is Jesus, again equating the scriptures with the word of God.” No, the Greek for “word” is logos, he who was in the beginning, the creator of all things. This is the word of God that came/comes to people. The scriptures are a testimony of that encounter. Now, there are a number of things in scripture that Jesus “set at naught” such as:

    Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5: 38-45)

    Concerning babies dyeing. You state, “Likewise, when babies or little children who for some reason or other die, it’s not because they transgressed a law, but because “death reigns” in all those who are in Adam.” Here I shall point out the obvious, death ceased to reign at Moses. Did babies cease to die under the ministration of the Moses? No. The law and prophets were until Christ and in Christ we are a new creation. Have babies ceased to die in Christ? Has the physical body become eternal in Christ? No. The new creation is not physical. The physical body is not and never could be eternal. By creation, the physical body depends upon temporal systems of support, nourishment, and regeneration. Remove the temporal support system and you remove the source of physical life. The infant mortality rate of the U.S. is declining even while societal wickedness is increasing. Are you going to agree that humanity’s advances in hygiene and medicine are in the process of overcoming Adam’s sin and death? That fallacy seems the logical outcome of your argument. Your statement that babies dyeing proves that we are “born in Adam” is as much as to say that death still reigns even though Moses has long since come and gone. You are saying death reigns under the ministration of Moses–babies died. You are saying death reigns under the ministration of Christ–babies still die. You are saying that the power of Christ is less than the power of Satan, less than the power of death. How do you know that? Babies die. Now, I am guilty of putting words into your mouth, very likely words you would never agree to. But these are the obvious conclusions to be drawn from your statements.

    Regarding my statement: “This does not add up to ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ The sources Paul quotes does not support that conclusion. The conclusion does not follow from the proof. Given that Paul was not an inadequate logician or lacking in scholarship, something has not come through the intervening 2000 years since the letter was written.” I think you have taken this incorrectly. I am not setting Paul aside. I have sufficient respect for him, for his scholarship, to wonder why these arguments do not work or are contradictory. If Paul is trying to say that there is no life outside that dialogic relationship with Christ (except you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you… the flesh profits nothing, the words I speak to you, these are breath, these are life) I have no argument. If he is saying that all humans have a sin nature, are born listening to the teaching of the serpent, then I say no. That does not align with the rest of scripture, even Paul contradicts that statement as George Fox pointed out (see quotes below). If sin is the natural state of mankind, we are not culpable. But sin does not pass without first being checked by the light of Christ exercising our consciences, and, if we proceed, convicting us that we have not done well. Thus we are culpable for what is done in the body. You have cited George Fox’s statement about all being included under sin… Have you also read Fox’s statements in response to various critics:

    Salvation is purchased to all men that perished in Adam though they do not believe it; for he is the saviour of all men, especially of them that do believe, and an offering for the sin of the whole world, mark, the world, and doth enlighten every man that cometh into the world, that all through him might believe. And he that believes not, is condemned by Christ the light, the life, the sacrifice, the offering, who through death hath destroyed that which in them was the power of death, the devil, and his power, and so entered into his glory. All that believe in him have life, and all that do not, and receive him not, have not life, but are condemned through unbelief. Now if you say that in Adam all died, I say yes; and that in Christ all shall be made alive to the justification of life, I say yes, as in Adam all died, so in Christ they come to be made alive. So they that are believers are holy, so are the believers’ children; a new creation, a new generation, new creatures, out of Adam in the fall; the believers passed from death, that came by Adam, to life, and so in that is a clean creation and holy generation.(Works, Vol. III p.553)

    Some are sanctified from the womb, and some children are holy; so all are not dead in sins and trespasses, for they that are so, are but unbelievers. (ibid. p.422)

    And some were sanctified from the womb, and some children were holy that were born of the believers.(ibid. p.449)

    P. Speaking of your children, you say, do not they come into the world with souls naked as their bodies ? nothing but filth upon the one, and nothing but sin upon the other.’
    A. It is manifest then that you are unbelievers and have not received the faith of Christ, but are yourselves in an unconverted estate; for the apostle saith concerning the believers’ children, that they were holy.(ibid. p.566)

    You have asked me why I do not consider scripture to be the word of God, what do I gain by that? Clarity of where the spring of life is. “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” This is not scripture Jesus is referring to. Continue in my word is abiding in, taking up our residence in, Christ’s inward teaching. This Word, which is the Word of God to mankind, is the agent by which all things were created and by which all things are restored. This Word of God is the agent by which mankind is made living beings. This Word became flesh and dwelt/dwells among us. This Word of God is THE declaration of the character, the nature, the will, the disposition of the Father. It is not those who cry “Lord, Lord” that enter the kingdom, but those who receive and do the revelation of the will of the Father, which is only revealed by the Word of God. That is why John Calls Jesus, “The Word of God” in Rev. 19:13 and explains his work as: “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” All these things are beyond the capacity of scripture. When scripture is set up as the arbiter of the work of Christ, then scripture is made supreme, not Christ. The rock Christ commanded me to stand on was that I could trust him to correct me if needed. I did not need to doubt my experience of his work and life within me. I could trust those inward checks that say, “this does not add up.”

    Do I consider the scripture to be inspired? There is no short answer to this question. The writers of scripture did not write of things beyond their measure. You can’t, for example, use Genesis 1 to combat science. The discoveries of solar evolution, for example, are walking in the footsteps of creation. In Genesis, you are dealing with the language of revelation, of vision. How are you going to articulate into words the substance of what has come in the language of imagery, of vision, of revelation when there are no words to describe what you have seen? Those who are terrified at science pushing into understanding the past are exhibiting a belief in an idol they have created.

    People who profess the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture read through the begats and calculate the age of the earth at a few thousand years, I don’t remember the number. Geology and the tools at our disposal make the earth to be some 4.5 billion years old. The young-earth-people see this as a threat to the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture. One can read the creation story and say the human race began with one man and one woman. Genomics and archaeology show several distinct groups of interbreeding humans. It looks like there was a population bottle neck of a few hundred individuals at one time. A species with a bottleneck of two individuals in its past is an extinct species. The gene pool is not sufficient to fight off disease or to defend against harmful mutations. That is why marriage between close relatives is such a bad idea. But one does not have to depend on science, there are hints in Genesis about other people than those who are the stars of the stories presented.

    The scriptures; which Timothy was exhorted to regard as inspired, able to make wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, and profitable, etc.; are not what we have today as the Bible. Those inspired scriptures contained works that have since been thrown out of the canon. The list of works included in the Bible was formalized in 300 something a.d. by the Council of Nicaea. This council was filled with factions of power hungry men seeking to consolidate their position of supremacy. But even that list did not stand. The Protestants redid the list of acceptable works in order to counter Roman Catholicism. Much of current, church doctrine surrounding the scriptures comes from the Westminster Declaration of Faith. The results of much of these efforts has been to establish grounds upon which to justify persecution of those who did not fall into line. I am sure I need not detail all this unholy history for you. But these things play into the question of how we are to view scripture.

    You asked, “do you at least acknowledge that the scriptures, including both the Old Testament and the New, in their original languages are the Spirit-inspired writings given by the Word?” Do you include the concept of scripture being inerrant? It is interesting that you mention the 2 Peter passage. I looked at the Greek interlinear for that passage and noticed the word translated as “scripture” is “graphe – properly, writing. 1124 (graphḗ) is used 51 times in the NT – always of holy Scripture, i.e. the inspired, inerrant writings of the Bible.” We don’t have an inerrant text from which to produce an inerrant translation. We have many variants of copies and copies of copies of those writings. We have fragments of Paul’s epistles that are pieced together even though they were not joined in the original. We have suspicions that some of the epistles attributed to Paul are pseudepigrapha. The New Testament was written in Greek; the concepts expressed are Hebrew. The cultural differences are vast, adding a language hurdle to getting the message across. Take for example the word for “darkness” (as in the light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it). The Greek means obscurity or dark. The Hebrew word for darkness has six meanings including death, misery, sorrow, ignorance, and I don’t remember the others. If you only go by the Greek, you get a very limited view of what happens when the light shines in the darkness. If you add in the Hebrew understanding, then you see that the light which comes from the life that is in the Word shines into humanity’s death, misery, sorrow, ignorance, etc and the darkness cannot overcome the life, joy, happiness, wisdom etc. that are in the light. The New Testament begins with a translation problem before ever being put into modern languages. Our final product, the Bible, is a combination of our best guess and the translators’ acknowledged and hidden biases. Not a very reassuring picture for those who demand an inerrant, holy document.

    So with all the above in mind, is there anything of value in the scriptures? Yes, the authors wrote according to their understanding and experience of the living God. The scriptures detail the history of God’s dealing with the Israelites. We have record of the work of at least some of the prophets. We have the historical accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry before the ascension. We have an account of the activity of the early church and the journeys of Paul. We have epistles from various writers sent to specific people applying to specific situations. Above all, they are a testimony, admonishing the reader that the experience of the inward work of Jesus Christ is to take precedence in the new covenant. (The servant, called in righteousness, is given for a covenant of the people and a light to the Gentiles; the law is written on the heart; everyone shall know God from the least to the greatest; Christ in you the hope of glory; today if you would hear his voice, harden not your heart; to point at a few that readily come to mind.)These testimonies still come through. They still resonate with the experience of Jesus Christ’s work in the heart today.

    But this is not necessarily the use people make of the scriptures. Look at the definition of “graphe” given above. The quest for an outward, inspired and inerrant document is not from scripture. From where does this desire come to deify the experience of the ancients and not to participate in the same through one’s own experience of the inward work of Christ? See, for instance, the opening paragraph of The Westminster Confession of Faith, which I have provided below along with their proof texts.

    I. Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;(a) yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.(b) Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that [sic. “that” should have been struck from the text] His will unto His Church;(c) and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing:(d) which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;(e) those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.(f)

    (a) Rom. 2:14, 15; Rom. 1:19, 20; Ps. 19:1, 2, 3; Rom. 1:32, with chap. 2:1.
    (b) I Cor. 1:21; I Cor. 2:13, 14.
    (c) Heb. 1:1.
    (d) Prov. 22:19, 20, 21; Luke 1:3, 4; Rom. 15:4; Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; Isa. 8:19, 20.
    (e) II Tim. 3:15; II Pet. 1:19.
    (f) Heb. 1:1, 2.

    This declaration is the manifestation of that same spirit, “Let us not see this fire nor hear this voice any longer lest we die.” But we are called into the fire, “…man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God shall man live.” This is a manifestation of that same spirit that would gather an abundance of manna to save up against tomorrow when manna might not appear. I have heard the question put many times, “What if God does not speak? Then what do we do?” The Bible is seen as the buffer for those instances when God “proves unreliable.” (King Saul is a good example of that.) God’s command was, “if you will hear/obey my voice, I will be your God.” This condition seems to have escaped the conferees constructing the Westminster Confession of Faith and people who adhere to that document today.

    How are we to hear that word and enter into that life? As Peter puts in in Acts:

    For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

    This is the standard against which all is to be judged, Christ present in and among his people in all his offices. This is the norm against which all is to be compared. The standard, the norm, is not a holy, unapproachable generation/s of writers of scripture detailing their experience of the inward work of Christ. Even those writings–what we have of them–are compared against and validated (or brought into question if faulty) by the work of Christ within and among us.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      I left out my response to your comments on Cain and Abel. I think you are right about the better sacrifice being that Abel offered himself. Cain expected what he did to be sufficient. The text does not give us any of these details.

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  9. Allan Halton says:

    Hi again, Ellis. Once again a long response:

    You said, “This is the word of God that came/comes to people. The scriptures are a testimony of that encounter.” I agree with you 100 percent. You don’t have to convince me of the indispensible importance of relationship with the living Word Himself. In fact Paul wrote, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). And, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever… And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pt. 1:23-25). And “whoso keepeth His word, in him is the love of God perfected…” (1 Jn. 2:5). And again, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). And again, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27). All I have said to you, or tried to say, is that the scriptures are a witness that God has given us—a faithful witness—of that Word. We must have that Word abiding in us (Jn. 5:38). “Ye search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me,” Jesus said, “and ye will not come to Me that ye might have life [the life you are looking for in the scriptures]” (Jn. 5:39,40). How plain is that? The thing is, Ellis, I count the scriptures to be a faithful witness, and when the Word speaks to me through His faithful witness the scriptures, I listen. I am not one unfamiliar with His voice. I recognize His voice. Oftentimes I read the scriptures and, at the time, don’t hear the voice. It is just “the letter.” That’s okay, I keep my ears open. Then suddenly the Word Himself is speaking to me, quickening the scriptures into my heart. I would be surprised if that is not the case with you also, Ellis.

    But on this account, I have a serious concern regarding your continuing tendency to disparage the scriptures as we have them. You said, “ We don’t have an inerrant text from which to produce an inerrant translation. We have many variants of copies and copies of copies of those writings. We have fragments of Paul’s epistles that are pieced together even though they were not joined in the original. We have suspicions that some of the epistles attributed to Paul are pseudepigrapha.” [End of your quote.] Yes, it’s true that “we have many variants of copies and copies of copies of those writings.” The remarkable thing is that these variations do not change anything significant; they involve only minor things like spelling, word order, etc. As to Paul’s epistles being pieced together, there is no proof of that whatsoever; it is at best a speculation. As to some of his letters being pseudepigrapha, you said, “we have suspicions…” You may have suspicions, but I do not, neither do the vast majority of the scholars of the New Testament text. Is it the voice of your Teacher you are listening to when you suggest that? You can be sure that there is one who would love you to be persuaded that the scriptures cannot be trusted. Here is a comment from F.F. Bruce’s commentary The Epistle to the Ephesians which some consider to be pseudepigraphic. “If the Epistle to the Ephesians was not written directly by Paul, but by one of his disciples in the apostle’s name, then its author was the greatest Paulinist of all time…. Of such a second Paul early Christian history has no knowledge.”

    You said, “The scriptures; which Timothy was exhorted to regard as inspired, able to make wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, and profitable, etc.; are not what we have today as the Bible. Those inspired scriptures contained works that have since been thrown out of the canon. The list of works included in the Bible was formalized in 300 something a.d. by the Council of Nicaea.” [End of your quote.] Here is another comment by F.F. Bruce, this one an extract from our correspondence of 2019, which I introduced by saying first that:
    There was no debate over the canon of Scripture at Nicaea. It has been documented that the canon was acknowledged as early as 170 AD when the Muratorian fragment is thought to be dated. In any case, the following quotation from The Books and the Parchments by F.F. Bruce explains something important about the canon: [Now the FF Bruce quote]:
    “There is a distinction between the canonicity of a book and its authority. Its canonicity is dependent upon its authority. for when we ascribe canonicity to a book we simply mean that it belongs to the canon or list. But why does it so belong? Because it was recognized as possessing special authority. People frequently speak and write as if the authority with which the books of the Bible are invested in the minds of Christians is the result of their having been included in the sacred list. But the historical fact is the other way about; they were included in the list because they were acknowledged as authoritative.” Bruce goes on to enlarge on this with regard to the Old Testament and New Testament canons. Regarding the New, he writes, “What is particularly important to notice is that the New Testament canon was not demarcated by the arbitrary decree of any Church Council. When at last a Church Council—the Synod of Hippo in AD 393—listed the twenty-seven book of the New Testament, it did not confer upon them any authority which they did not already possess, but simply recorded their previously established canonicity.”

    You said, “The New Testament was written in Greek; the concepts expressed are Hebrew. The cultural differences are vast, adding a language hurdle to getting the message across.” Yes, some of the concepts are Hebrew, and there is rich truth revealed when one is able to bring these to light by diligent and patient study, and the help of the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of both testaments.

    You said, “The New Testament begins with a translation problem before ever being put into modern languages. Our final product, the Bible, is a combination of our best guess and the translators’ acknowledged and hidden biases. Not a very reassuring picture for those who demand an inerrant, holy document.” Ellis, we have (at least in English) several reliable tool kits like Blue Letter Bible to help us understand the earliest documents. Coupled with an open heart and the help of the Holy Spirit along with some very good Bible teachers out there, we may be confident we have what the Word of God inspired.

    As to this paragraph, “So with all the above in mind, is there anything of value in the scriptures? Yes, the authors wrote according to their understanding and experience of the living God. The scriptures detail the history of God’s dealing with the Israelites. We have record of the work of at least some of the prophets. We have the historical accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry before the ascension. We have an account of the activity of the early church and the journeys of Paul. We have epistles from various writers sent to specific people applying to specific situations. Above all, they are a testimony, admonishing the reader that the experience of the inward work of Jesus Christ is to take precedence in the new covenant. (The servant, called in righteousness, is given for a covenant of the people and a light to the Gentiles; the law is written on the heart; everyone shall know God from the least to the greatest; Christ in you the hope of glory; today if you would hear his voice, harden not your heart; to point at a few that readily come to mind.)These testimonies still come through. They still resonate with the experience of Jesus Christ’s work in the heart today.” [End of your quote.] I agree with this, all of it, but add to it that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). So I include the New Testament scriptures, as by now you know. I realize you do not share the same view.

    You continued, “But this is not necessarily the use people make of the scriptures. Look at the definition of “graphe” given above. The quest for an outward, inspired and inerrant document is not from scripture. From where does this desire come to deify the experience of the ancients and not to participate in the same through one’s own experience of the inward work of Christ?” [End of your quote.] None of those I am in fellowship have any desire to “deify the experience of the ancients” but rather give themselves daily to “experience the inward work of Christ.” As to this, “The quest for an outward, inspired and inerrant document is not from scripture…” By this you dismiss the labours of countless men who have sought to get into your hands the scriptures of truth? I for one am grateful for this, not only regarding the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, but the translations into my native tongue English. The Bible that George Fox held in his hand (the Great Bible, I think it was) and the Bible you and I hold in our hands is the product of their efforts, and I thank Jesus for such men, some of whom paid with their lives so you and I could have such a book in our own language.

    You said, “I have heard the question put many times, “What if God does not speak? Then what do we do?” The Bible is seen as the buffer for those instances when God “proves unreliable.” [End of your quote.] We cannot go by the Bible itself. We go by what the living Word within us speaks. But the scriptures will always bear witness to what the living Word has spoken. If they do not… Ellis, I challenge you to share with me something that the living Word has spoken to you, but the scriptures do not bear witness to.

    Ellis, you said, “Do I consider the scripture to be inspired? There is no short answer to this question. The writers of scripture did not write of things beyond their measure. You can’t, for example, use Genesis 1 to combat science. The discoveries of solar evolution, for example, are walking in the footsteps of creation. In Genesis, you are dealing with the language of revelation, of vision. How are you going to articulate into words the substance of what has come in the language of imagery, of vision, of revelation when there are no words to describe what you have seen?” [End of your quote.] This cannot be an argument against the inspiration of scripture. Rather, it’s an argument as to what the scriptures actually mean, and what God intended when He inspired them. The same goes for the young earth/old earth views. Both of these are interpretations of inspired scripture.

    I am not familiar with the Westminster Confession of Faith and am not inclined to get familiar with it.

    Your last paragraph: “This [the Prophet] is the standard against which all is to be judged, Christ present in and among his people in all his offices. This is the norm against which all is to be compared. The standard, the norm, is not a holy, unapproachable generation/s of writers of scripture detailing their experience of the inward work of Christ. Even those writings–what we have of them–are compared against and validated (or brought into question if faulty) by the work of Christ within and among us.” [End of your quote.] Amen as to what you are saying about Christ the Prophet. But again, nothing that He says will ever be discordant with His faithful witness, the scriptures.

    Now to back up to what you said earlier in your response. In what Jesus said regarding the Matthew 5 passage you quoted, He was not setting the Scriptures “at naught,” He was bidding goodbye to the whole covenant God gave the people of Israel by Moses. He was bringing in a new and better covenant.

    And backing up once again to the Romans 5 passage. First, concerning the Fox quotes:

    Concerning the Fox quotes:
    Now if you say that in Adam all died, I say yes; and that in Christ all shall be made alive to the justification of life, I say yes, as in Adam all died, so in Christ they come to be made alive. So they that are believers are holy, so are the believers’ children; a new creation, a new generation, new creatures, out of Adam in the fall; the believers passed from death, that came by Adam, to life, and so in that is a clean creation and holy generation.(Works, Vol. III p.553)
    Some are sanctified from the womb, and some children are holy; so all are not dead in sins and trespasses, for they that are so, are but unbelievers. (ibid. p.422)
    And some were sanctified from the womb, and some children were holy that were born of the believers.(ibid. p.449)
    P. Speaking of your children, you say, do not they come into the world with souls naked as their bodies ? nothing but filth upon the one, and nothing but sin upon the other.’
    A. It is manifest then that you are unbelievers and have not received the faith of Christ, but are yourselves in an unconverted estate; for the apostle saith concerning the believers’ children, that they were holy.(ibid. p.566)

    I must be misunderstanding Fox, for he surely cannot be saying that children born of believing parents are themselves new creations. “So they that are believers are holy, so are the believers’ children; a new creation, a new generation, new creatures, out of Adam in the fall; the believers passed from death, that came by Adam, to life, and so in that is a clean creation and holy generation.” Is Fox actually saying that? But were not his own parents believers? How then did he have a “condition” that only Jesus Christ could speak to? No, all those born of Adam must be “born again,” that is, “born of the Spirit,” born “from above.” For, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Paul writes, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). He is certainly not saying that the husband sanctified by the wife is saved, for he is still “unbelieving.” But not yet saved. “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Cor. 7:16). In this same sense, just as the unsaved husband is sanctified (made holy) by the wife, the children of the marriage are also sanctifed (made holy) by the believing wife or husband. But the children are not yet saved, are not yet new creations in Christ. As someone has said, God has no grandchildren. Each and every person must become one of His own children, begotten by the Word Himself.

    Again concerning the Romans 5 passage, you said, “Here I shall point out the obvious, death ceased to reign at Moses.” Ellis, you are missing the point of Paul’s teaching. Death did not cease to reign at Moses. The reign of death ended only when Christ defeated death with its own weapon, so that death has no dominion over all those “in Christ,” and ultimately death will be cast into the lake of fire. In Romans 5 Paul wrote, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” Paul is stating that even though there was no explicit law given between the time that God gave an explicit commandment to Adam, and much later the explicit law by Moses, people nevertheless died. Even though they had not transgressed an explicit commandment, they died. How can this be, since, as Paul points out, “sin in not imputed when there is no law.” How then could it be that people died? How could it be that between the time of Adam and Moses, death reigned? It’s because of what Adam’s sin had brought upon them. When Adam sinned, all died, for all were in Adam when he sinned. (Just as Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, for he was yet in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek.) And then Paul goes on to show that Adam was a figure of One to come, whose righteousness would abound unto many. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Death would no longer reign over these; these, receiving “abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness,” would “reign in life by one, Christ Jesus.”

    You said, “If he [Paul] is saying that all humans have a sin nature, are born listening to the teaching of the serpent, then I say no. That does not align with the rest of scripture, even Paul contradicts that statement as George Fox pointed out (see quotes below). If sin is the natural state of mankind, we are not culpable. But sin does not pass without first being checked by the light of Christ exercising our consciences, and, if we proceed, convicting us that we have not done well. Thus we are culpable for what is done in the body.” [End of your quote.]

    We are not culpable for Adam’s sin; we are culpable for our own sins. Here is a quote on Romans 5:14 from Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament: “Even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression…” Adam violated an express command of God and Moses gave the law of God clearly. And yet sin and death followed all from Adam on till Moses, showing clearly that the sin of Adam brought terrible consequences upon the race. Death has come upon infants and idiots also as a result of sin, but one understands Paul to mean that they are not held responsible by the law of conscience.” [End RWP quote.]

    More on culpability in a moment but first here’s a question for you, Ellis. Why does Jesus say to Nicodemus, “You [pural] must be born again”? If sin had not become our nature, why do we need a new nature, that is, must all be born again, regenerated?

    Now here is a comment stretching several paragraphs by UK Bible teacher Ron Bailey [I will place a note in square brackets at the end of the quote]:

    “It is not necessary to conclude that having inherited Adam’s SIN we therefore inherit his guilt. Guilt is blameworthiness (never a feeling in scripture). Does God hold me accountable for what Adam did? I don’t read that in the scripture. I see that the consequences of Adam’s action have a continuing effect on the human race, but I don’t describe that as ‘guilt’. Personally, I distinguish between ‘original sin’ and ‘original guilt’. I believe I inherited the former but not the latter. (SIN here being the nature not the act). It is not the nature (SIN) that is judged ‘guilty’ but sin. (James 4:17 gives a useful definition of ‘sin’ as an act.) SIN cannot be forgiven, it needs a far more radical solution… you must be born again!

    We need to distinguish between ‘sins’ and SIN if we are to be true to the biblical revelation.

    …The NT usually refers to us as saints; this is a reference to nature; new nature coming as a result of regeneration. Before regeneration we are not saints. What are we? We are sinners; that is our character/nature. BTW God does not hold us responsible for our nature but for our acts. I am not ‘guilty’ as a result of what Adam did but as a result of what I did. A belief in ‘original sin’ does not necessarily imply a belief in ‘original guilt’.

    Eve sinned before Adam but Eve’s sin did not constitute a changed nature for humankind because she was not the federal head of the human race. Adam’s sin did have an effect on our constitution or nature. Romans 5:19 ‘for as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners: so also through the obedience of the one, shall the many be constituted righteous’ (Young’s Literal Translation).

    This states clearly that through the action of one many were affected. The ‘one’ is Adam, and Romans 5:12 reveals that through that one act of one man something entered: “’…through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin the death; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin’ (Young’s Literal Translation). This passage gives us two unique revelations. Sin did not begin with Adam but it entered the world through Adam; Sin is older than our race. Adam was the bridgehead through which Sin entered our race.

    The Germans call original sin hereditary sin, but this is a mistake. Eve came from Adam before Sin had entered our world. Her sin did not affect Adam but Adam’s sin (one man’s disobedience) affected Eve; this was not heredity. Sin did not go downwards from Adam through each successive generation. It permeated the entire race in an instant and Eve was constituted a sinner not through her own sin but through Adam’s. I became a Sinner the moment Adam sinned. I was not born a sinner because my father was a sinner, (it was not hereditary) but because I was in Adam when he sinned; death spread through the whole human race in a moment. The evidence for this is that death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression; babies died who hadn’t sinned. Why? Because Adam’s disobedience had an immediate effect on the whole human race of which he was the federal head, even before the law of Moses made it possible to quantify sins.

    Adam’s race has a built-in nature and my only hope is to be taken out of Adam and put into Christ; in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. ‘In him,’ says John, is no Sin.’

    I touched on guilt in the last posting. Biblically, guilt is blame-worthiness. It is a judicial verdict and never a feeling. Most believers in original sin also believe in original guilt, but I do not. I don’t believe that God holds me responsible for Adam’s sin, but He does hold me responsible for mine. Personal sin has personal consequences; ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ I do not believe that the Bible teaches that we suffer eternal separation from God because of Adam’s sin, but we certainly risk that because of our own. [End of Ron Bailey quote]

    Ron Bailey has said elsewhere that he prefers the term “congenital sin” to “hereditary sin.” In other words, we get the sin nature directly from Adam, not from our parents.

    That wraps up my response, Ellis. I may have missed a point or two, but I’ve expressed my views on the scriptures and the Romans 5 passage (with the help of A.T. Robertson and Ron Bailey). You may not agree, but at least you’ll see what I see.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      I am only going to touch on a couple of things in my response, things that have hit me of being of paramount importance.

      You asked: “Why does Jesus say to Nicodemus, ‘You [pural] must be born again’? If sin had not become our nature, why do we need a new nature, that is, must all be born again, regenerated?” (end of your quotation) Being born again says nothing about our nature. Mankind was first created a physical creation, the first birth. God then breathed into them the breath of life, the second birth, born of the breath or spirit. Jesus is this breath. “In him was the life and the life was the light of men.” “The words I [have spoken/am speaking/will be speaking] to you, these are breath, these are life.” Hearing, walking in, and living in this present teaching is the birth by the breath of God which makes us living beings. It is these living beings, made alive by the breath that was in the beginning, who live in the kingdom of God. Just because the first birth does not inherit life does not make it of an evil nature. The physical can neither see nor inherit the Kingdom of God which is spiritual, beyond the physical. The sons and daughters of Adam and and Eve are children of disobedience. They have chosen to listen to the teaching of the serpent rather than live by the light of Christ which has enlightened them, which light would teach them, which teachings would bring them into the second birth. The first birth is of the earth, earthly. The second birth is of the living breath, spiritual (breathual just doesn’t work!). The first birth is a point of divergence. The path forks going either in the direction of following the inward teaching of Christ or in the direction of following the Serpent’s teaching. That which is born of the breath is life. That which is born of following the Serpent is more than ceasing to exist (death in one sense) it is a consuming, gnawing, hideous death/darkness that does not end. Even those who follow the serpent, children of disobedience, are confronted with the light of Christ within and are given the opportunity to turn to Christ, the teacher of righteousness, and to know the work of Satan destroyed within them. The serpent promises free will to those who will follow and thus ensnares and captivates and makes slaves of all who walk that way. The second birth holds man’s will in subjection to the Father’s will. This subjection is our created state and is the maximum of our liberty. The liberty of the sons of God far exceeds the “lack of restrictions” imposed by the serpent.

      Regarding the quotes from Fox, I gave you the citations so you can look up the context and satisfy yourself. Concerning those quotes, you wrote the following paragraph. Allan, this is the most important thing either of us has said in all this long discussion. I am going to break you paragraph in order to interject some things. You wrote:

      I must be misunderstanding Fox, for he surely cannot be saying that children born of believing parents are themselves new creations. “So they that are believers are holy, so are the believers’ children; a new creation, a new generation, new creatures, out of Adam in the fall; the believers passed from death, that came by Adam, to life, and so in that is a clean creation and holy generation.” Is Fox actually saying that?

      I assure you, Allan, you are not misunderstanding Fox. You are running into the limits of your conception of salvation.

      But were not his own parents believers?

      Go to epistle 245, the first one in Vol. 8 of Fox’s Works. Here he defines what is a true believer, particularly on page 9 and following.

      How then did he have a “condition” that only Jesus Christ could speak to?

      Jesus Christ, the Word who was in the beginning, “spoke to the condition” of the first humans to make them living beings. Wherever man has become living beings, it is by this same process of Jesus Christ speaking to them

      No, all those born of Adam must be “born again,” that is, “born of the Spirit,” born “from above.” For, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Paul writes, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). He is certainly not saying that the husband sanctified by the wife is saved, for he is still “unbelieving.” But not yet saved. “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Cor. 7:16). In this same sense, just as the unsaved husband is sanctified (made holy) by the wife, the children of the marriage are also sanctifed (made holy) by the believing wife or husband. But the children are not yet saved, are not yet new creations in Christ. As someone has said, God has no grandchildren. Each and every person must become one of His own children, begotten by the Word Himself.

      How can one who is sanctified not be saved? or children be holy and not be new creatures in Christ? What is there about your concept of being born again, of salvation, that does not fit with what Fox is stating? These are questions, and perhaps others, that you must look at if you are understand Fox.

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  10. Allan Halton says:

    Hi again Ellis. Not so long this time. 🙂 In your last paragraph you asked me to ask some questions: “How can one who is sanctified not be saved? or children be holy and not be new creatures in Christ? What is there about your concept of being born again, of salvation, that does not fit with what Fox is stating? These are questions, and perhaps others, that you must look at if you are understand Fox.”

    Here then is my response to that, and hopefully it will help you understand the scriptures that our Teacher and Fox’s Teacher inspired. I have, as you know, the greatest respect for George Fox; he has been a great inspiration to me. But I do not hold him infallible; I don’t assume that he had clear light on all things. And so I must always diligently compare what he wrote with what the scriptures say, as the noble Bereans commended by Luke did. And if I find some discrepancy, well, you know what I must do.

    You said, “Being born again says nothing about our nature. Mankind was first created a physical creation, the first birth. God then breathed into them the breath of life, the second birth, born of the breath or spirit.” No, when God made Adam “of the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7), this was not the first birth but the first step in the creation of the first man Adam. God had first formed him, had “sculpted him,” as a potter forms something out of clay (as the word implies). But he was still only a lifeless form, like a statue, one might say—he didn’t even have physical life yet; there was no life in him whatsoever. It was only when God breathed into Adam the breath of life that he became “a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). That was not “the second birth,” but the completion of the creation of Adam. Paul writes of this in making a contrast between the first Adam and the last Adam. “So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1Cor. 15:45 ASV).

    You said, “Just because the first birth does not inherit life does not make it of an evil nature.” That is correct, it was only after Adam sinned, and consequently died, that his nature was affected by sin and death. This affected all those in Adam from that day till this. The only remedy is the one God provided by the death and resurrection of Christ, by which He brought to an end the old creation man, and brought into being the new creation man. This Man, having risen, then ascended to the right hand of the Father, where as a life-giving Spirit he began to quicken (make alive) those who had been dead in sins and repented of their sins, and looked to Him for salvation. By this quickening, this new birth (regeneration by the Spirit of God), they are in the second man, the new creation man, sharing His nature and living now moment by moment by His Breath.

    Fox apparently agrees: “He that commits sin is the servant of sin, and he that commits sin is of the devil; and he that is born of God doth not commit sin, for he cannot, because he is born of God, born of that nature which cannot sin; and those who sin are of the devil, of the same nature as their father; but he that is born of God doth not commit sin at no rate, for he is of the same nature as his father” (Vol. 3, page 449). Amen to that. A change of nature has taken place.

    You said, “The sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are children of disobedience.” It looks like you are now in agreement with me on this one. This is why Christ came, why He died, why He gave Himself for all those in Adam, every one of them (and not as the Calvinists claim, only for the elect). But only those who receive him benefit from His redemption.

    Now as to this that you said: “Concerning those quotes, you wrote the following paragraph. Allan, this is the most important thing either of us has said in all this long discussion.” And then you said, “I assure you, Allan, you are not misunderstanding Fox. You are running into the limits of your conception of salvation.”

    I am not sure I would have called this the most important thing either of us has said, but in any case, if I am not misunderstanding Fox—and you assured me that I am not— then I have run into the limits of Fox’s conception of salvation, not my own. I am not comparing myself with Fox, but with what the Teacher who gave the scriptures teaches. What He teaches is contrary to what Fox wrote. Fox wrote, “So they that are believers are holy, so are the believers’ children; a new creation, a new generation, new creatures, out of Adam in the fall; the believers passed from death, that came by Adam, to life, and so in that is a clean creation and holy generation.” As you advised, I did read to epistle 245 in Vol. 8 in which Fox defines what is a true believer. It was very good; I concurred with what he wrote. But according to the scriptures Fox is wrong when he says that the children of believers are a new creation by virtue of their parents being believers. Children are not made new creations by their parents (or one of their parents) being believers. If that were so, what Christ accomplished on Calvary’s cross was unnecessary. For He died to bring to an end the old creation man, and bring into being a new creation man, and the only way any person can be in that new creation man is by new birth (regeneration) by the Spirit of God. They are born, says John (referring to “them that believe on His name”), “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). Jesus Himself confirmed this. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6).

    No one ever becomes a new creation simply on the basis of that one’s parents (or one of the parents) being a believer in Christ. No child of God ever calls Him Grandfather; each and every person must experience the new birth themselves, which gives them the incomparable privilege of calling God the Father their own Father. Thus, being born of Him, they have a new nature, a nature like His. They become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt. 1:4). That is certainly a change of nature, then. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6).

    Furthermore, Paul says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). Mark the words, “in Christ.” It is not possible to be a new creation simply because one’s parents (or one of them) is a new creation. It is only those “in Christ” who are new creations; one’s parents (or one of them) being in Christ does not make the child a new creation. One must be “in Christ.” And only God, not the parents, can put one in Christ. “Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus…” (1 Cor. 1:30). It is by God’s personal act of regeneration that one is then in Christ.

    And so again, as to this passage that Fox brings up: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). I point out to you again, Ellis, that Paul is certainly not saying that the husband sanctified (made holy) by the wife is saved, for Paul calls him “unbelieving.” That is, not yet saved. This is obvious, for Paul continues, “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Cor. 7:16). So the husband (in this instance) although not yet saved is “sanctified by the wife.” Whatever Paul has in mind here, it is certainly not the sanctification that is in Christ Jesus, which would mean their being new creations in Christ. I suggest that it is along the line of being set apart unto God’s holy purpose. The husband because of his wife’s testimony has a wonderful opportunity to bow his knee and his heart to God and be saved himself. But obviously this does not always happen. In this same sense, just as the unsaved husband is sanctified (made holy) by the wife, the children of the marriage are also sanctified (made holy) by the believing wife or husband. They are set apart unto God’s holy purpose, but are not yet saved, are not yet new creations in Christ. Such children have a wonderful opportunity to give their lives to God, and, receiving the gift of His Spirit, be born again, as many children, even very young children, do. But there is no guarantee that they shall do this, as many parents throughout the whole church age have discovered to their sorrow. To emphasize it again, they are not, as Fox stated, “a new creation, a new generation, new creatures, out of Adam in the fall…” They have a gracious God-given opportunity to become new creations, but they are not new creations simply by having been born to a believing parent.

    Consider John the Baptist. He was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Lk. 1:15). But he was not born again. This is apparent, for Jesus said of him, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt. 11:11). This is because it is not by natural birth that the kingdom of heaven is entered; it is only those who are born again (born from above) who enter the kingdom of heaven (Jn. 3:5). John the Baptist himself knew this, knew that he himself was not in the very kingdom of God that he proclaimed, because he was not born again. This is why he said to Jesus, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” (Mt. 3:14). John had in mind his oft-repeated prophecy that the One who came after him was mightier than he, and would baptize in Holy Spirit. It is this baptism in Holy Spirit that is baptism into Christ, and entrance into the kingdom of God. This is a more powerful filling of the Holy Spirit than John knew in his unregenerate state (and which many of the old testament saints knew). John the Baptist himself testified the same—that the One coming after him was mightier than he; this One’s baptism would accomplish what water baptism could not. It would cause a new birth (regeneration), and entrance into the kingdom of God.

    This is not to say that those of old who knew not this mighty baptism in their earthly days are not now in the kingdom of God. Jesus testified that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were in the kingdom of God, and John the Baptist no doubt is also in the kingdom of God now. One of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. But the ascension of Christ no doubt has a very far reach backward through the ages, as well as forward to the ages to come.

    I think I am done, Ellis. You and I have both shared a lot, but it does not appear that we have been able to come to an agreement on much. I am disappointed about that, but because of it, I am not sure it’s to our profit to continue disagreeing with one another. Thank you for bearing with me.

    Allan

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      I wrote that your paragraph was the most important thing said in our long conversation because that was the word of the Lord, not because of my personal opinion. That paragraph and your subsequent response reveal your confusion. You quoted John 1:13 but have left behind the context of those words. Those who are born of God are they who receive the the light that comes from the life that is in the Word, who was in the beginning. This light enlightens every human–baby, believer, and non-believer–that comes into the world. Even those who believe in his name, which is the Word, are given the power to become sons of God. Believing in the Word and receiving the Word is acknowledging the authority of what the light of Christ makes known within you and walking accordingly. None are made holy, none are sanctified, none have the spirit of God, none are saved outside of this receiving and believing in the Word who was in the beginning. All who have the breath of God are born of God. John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb, i.e. filled with the breath of God, was born of the breath of God. Those who see and enter the kingdom of God are those who are born of the breath. It has been thus since the beginning. John the Baptist’s statement you refer to, “I have need to be baptized of thee…” is no more than John’s acknowledgement that Jesus, not he, is the source of righteousness.

      Where there are children born holy, it is the work of Christ. Where spouses are sanctified, it is the work of Christ. Where children are born holy does not negate what Christ accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection. You have stated numerous times that being born with a sin nature is a work of the Devil, a holdover from the sin of Adam and Eve. Do you now proclaim that this holdover is greater than the power of Christ? A clean generation is a testimony to the power of Christ to destroy the devil and his works. It says nothing to negate everyone’s obligation to live in the light of Christ, for this clean generation proceeds from the Word who was in the beginning, by whom all things were created, and by whom all things are restored.

      These also have been the word of the Lord.

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  11. Allan Halton says:

    Ellis, you stated that what Fox wrote is the “word of the Lord.” and that what you have written above is also “the word of the Lord.” If that were truly so, I would not dare say a word. But I will risk a word or two. I greatly appreciate much of what Fox has written, but I disagree with his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:14. I’ve given my reasons, I don’t need to labour it further. As to what you said, I agree that “None are made holy, none are sanctified, none have the spirit of God, none are saved outside of this receiving and believing in the Word who was in the beginning.” I fully agree. But this is not what Fox wrote, and what Fox wrote is not what Paul was saying in that verse. Again, I don’t need to repeat here what I explained earlier.

    As to this that you said: “Those who are born of God are they who receive the light that comes from the life that is in the Word, who was in the beginning. This light enlightens every human–baby, believer, and non-believer–that comes into the world. Even those who believe in his name, which is the Word, are given the power to become sons of God.” And this: “Those who are born of God are they who receive the light that comes from the life that is in the Word, who was in the beginning. This light enlightens every human–baby, believer, and non-believer–that comes into the world. Even those who believe in his name, which is the Word, are given the power to become sons of God.” Ellis, there was no one, including John the Baptist, regenerated (born again, born from above) till Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father and sent His Spirit, thus beginning the baptism that John the Baptist prophesied the Christ would begin—baptism in Holy Spirit. This was the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. Scriptures that I’ve already given back me up on this.

    You said, “You have stated numerous times that being born with a sin nature is a work of the Devil, a holdover from the sin of Adam and Eve. Do you now proclaim that this holdover is greater than the power of Christ?” I am stating the exact opposite, as does Paul in Romans 5. I need not circle back to what I wrote concerning the Romans 5 passage.

    Ellis, I doubt you will receive what I have said. So is there any reason for us to continue this discussion?

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  12. Ellis Hein says:

    Allan, Is there any reason for us to continue this discussion? Yes. Since this is my blog, I am under obligation to answer you.

    As to whether I have written at the command of the Lord, I can offer you no proof. The Lord will testify for or against me. In that I am content.

    Read again what I said in my previous comment. I did not state that what Fox wrote is the word of the Lord. I said that my statement concerning the importance of your paragraph was the word of the Lord. See my comment from March 16 (https://thiswasthetruelight.wordpress.com/2021/01/27/sin-part-1-what-is-it/#comment-316.) And I said that what I wrote was also at the command of the Lord. Your paragraph that is under discussion and your subsequent comments reveal the man-made limits of your concept of salvation as you can see below.

    You have agreed with me that none are made holy, none are sanctified, none have the spirit of God, none are saved outside of this receiving and believing in the Word who was in the beginning. Then you state, “But this is not what Fox wrote…” Allan, I think you need to go back and read what Fox wrote. The point of those statements from Fox is that not all are born with “sin upon their soul”, for the work of Christ is greater than the works of the Devil. Those born of believers are not born “in Adam.” Yes, there has never been disagreement between us that those “in Adam” are children of disobedience. In whom, then, are the children of obedience? This has been the point of discussion all along.

    You stated:

    Ellis, there was no one, including John the Baptist, regenerated (born again, born from above) till Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father and sent His Spirit, thus beginning the baptism that John the Baptist prophesied the Christ would begin—baptism in Holy Spirit. This was the inauguration of the Kingdom of God.

    Now, concerning the beginning of the Kingdom of God and when regeneration became a possibility.

    Have you recalled Psalms 145, Daniel chapters 4 & 7, and 2 Peter Chapter 1, all of which speak of the Kingdom of God as everlasting or eternal? For example: “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:13) This “everlasting” is beyond time, something time cannot comprehend. The Kingdom of God has no beginning and no ending.

    We have agreed that those born of the flesh alone cannot see the kingdom of God; only those born of the spirit. Consider, then, Enoch and Elijah. Do you tell me that they, by their fleshly birth, were taken into the kingdom of God? Enoch pleased God, which cannot be done except in the birth which makes man into living beings. Elijah was taken up as witnessed by Elisha. It was not his fleshly birth that enabled him to be taken into the kingdom. Did not God pour out his spirit upon the house of Israel? Those who lived in that spirit experienced the second birth, for it can’t be otherwise. The Word of the Lord does not return to him without accomplishing its end. In the Word is life. Did not Jesus tell the disciples “the words I speak to you, these are spirit, these are life? This is the same word that Moses told the Israelites was in their hearts and in their mouths that they should know it and do it. Abraham received this word and it was his righteousness that he walked therein. None are made righteous, no matter when they lived, except by the work of Christ. He alone is the teacher of righteousness. There is no righteousness before God without being made alive by the spirit of God–the “words I speak to you.”

    If humans do not have this life that comes by the second birth, we want. The Psalmist in Psalm 23 states “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Where the Lord is shepherd, the sheep have life. Where the Lord is shepherd, the sheep are led into the pastures of life and drink at the spring of living water. Otherwise they would be wandering looking for pastures–they would want. Again, we have agreed that none have this life except they be born again, born of the breath that was in the beginning. The Psalmist’s statement is a testimony to possessing this birth, and that before Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father. The Psalmist goes on to say “He restores my soul.” Nothing is restored unless it is brought back to its original condition; which, for the soul of man, is a living soul bathed in the breath of the living God. Only living souls can walk in the paths of righteousness. Only in possessing life can we walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. Only in the presence of the Lord do we possess life. Again this is the Psalmist’s testimony of his condition.

    Or consider Jer. 7:22 “Hear/obey my voice and I will be your God and you shall be my people.” Now, is God the God of the living or the dead? Only those who are made alive by hearing his voice have the one and only true God to be their God.

    Consider Isaiah 54:13 through 55:3. This section begins with “And all your children shall be taught by the Lord…” the rest of chapter 54 describes the outcome. Then Isaiah cries out to all who hunger for this, “…come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Those who “want” are admonished to come and partake of life, which alone satisfies. Those who “want” are invited to let their souls delight in fatness of life. “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live.” Where the soul is made alive, the soul is regenerated and the new birth is known/experienced.

    All this, all the work of God from the beginning of time until time is no more, is done in and through Christ, who is the Word of God. It does not matter if the time is B.C. or A.D. The book of Hebrews has an impressive list of people who “by faith…” And Habakkuk says that the just shall live by faith. This “faith” is not void of the life that comes from the Word. Paul stated “Faith is from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” It is this “word of Christ” that is spoken in the heart of all mankind for it is this Word that is the light of all that come into the world.

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    • Allan Halton says:

      Hi Ellis, I hope to respond again but I am not clear when. It may take some time.

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      • Kristi Ensminger says:

        Hi Ellis and Allan,

        First of all, let me say that I appreciate you both having engaged in this discussion. I haven’t read every word of it, often skipping whole comments or sections, but what I have read has forced me to take a look at some of what I have, til now, accepted for most of my life as the fundamental “givens” of Christianity. My aim, though, isn’t to enter into the discussion or to resurrect it (since it seems that it may be closed or nearing close), but just to make a few brief remarks about one topic you discussed: the role of scripture in the life of a believer.

        As I read through your discussion, I realized I can’t hold a candle to much of the subject matter you’ve brought up…you both are very well-spoken and well-versed in the Scriptures, and bring in a lot of personal experience to your arguments as well. So why am I commenting? Well, because there was something beyond man that began poking at me as I read one particular section, and I felt I should add a few things related to the personal effect I experienced.

        Yesterday morning, I decided to keep reading some of this discussion, and found myself unable to move beyond one particular comment. The subject being discussed was the inspiration/inerrancy of scripture. It was where you, Ellis, reference the first part of the Westminster Confession and follow with these words:

        This declaration is the manifestation of that same spirit, “Let us not see this fire nor hear this voice any longer lest we die.” But we are called into the fire, “…man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God shall man live.” This is a manifestation of that same spirit that would gather an abundance of manna to save up against tomorrow when manna might not appear. I have heard the question put many times, “What if God does not speak? Then what do we do?” The Bible is seen as the buffer for those instances when God “proves unreliable.”

        And then your final paragraph after quoting Acts about the prophet which shall be raised up and heard in all things:

        “This is the standard against which all is to be judged, Christ present in and among his people in all his offices. This is the norm against which all is to be compared. The standard, the norm, is not a holy, unapproachable generation/s of writers of scripture detailing their experience of the inward work of Christ. Even those writings–what we have of them–are compared against and validated (or brought into question if faulty) by the work of Christ within and among us.”

        I felt I needed to stop here. Something was beginning to stir in me as i considered these comments and I didn’t want to impede that “something” by reading anything more…

        After a bike ride and few other daily tasks, I picked up The Writings of Isaac Penington Vol I and decided to start randomly in Chapter 5, The Scattered Sheep Sought After. (I’m reading a copy where the language has been modernized and the text reformatted some, so I’m unsure what chapter or page this would be on if one has the original.) But the chapter starts with Jeremiah 2:13- “My people have committed two great evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot hold water.” He begins comparing the Israel of old with the present-day “Christian Israel,” saying how in the same way the Israelites forsook the Lord and adorned themselves with the things He had given them, Christians today, “still take what they can from Him to live of themselves, but they refuse to live by Him. They get what knowledge they can from the Scriptures without Him; they get what they can from their exercises and experiences, but neglect the spring of their life.” And then (a paragraph later) he turns more personal, and stops me dead in my tracks.

        “The deep awareness of this has afflicted my soul from my youth, whenever the eternal witness awakened in me, and the eternal light manifested the darkness unto me. At this time I knew not that it was the light, but I went about seeking to measure its appearances in me by the words which the light itself has formerly spoken to others (scripture). In this way, I set up my own understanding and comprehension as the measure, although I did not then perceive or think that I did so. Therefore, through ignorance, I continually slew the light, and settled for such an appearance of life as my intellect could judge most agreeable to Scriptures.”

        I was charged guilty. It was as if, in subsequent moments considering all that I had read that day, a giant stumbling block (boulder, really) was turned into a small pebble before me. That giant boulder was the Scriptures, which had before actually prevented me from moving forward on the path I was walking, the path that the Light was wanting to lead me further on. That boulder didn’t disappear; it was still a part of the path, and there was nothing wrong with its presence on the path. In fact, for me, it was still an integral part of the path, so it was rather turned into a pebble. The problem was with me. And I saw clearly, in a way I haven’t been given utterance for yet, how I had been doing what Penington describes.

        Note: I have been thoroughly convinced for awhile now that man must live by the Word of God alone, His light must be my guide, and that “the letter kills, the Spirit gives life,” etc, although I still daily read the Scriptures and hold them in high esteem. These are not new ideas to me. Nevertheless, what we think we know and will readily assent to can often be a far cry from what is real within us, and I did not realize until now how I have been continually held captive by a fear of being led by the Light in a direction that I perceived was in any way a deviation from what I found in the Scriptures…(or a deviation from the unspoken code of behavior and language of the people with whom I’m currently in fellowship).

        It also seems important to mention that I when this came to me, I didn’t feel I was dishonoring or diminishing the scriptures by welcoming that change from boulder to pebble (hang with me on the analogy), but instead was actually honoring them by allowing them to be put in their proper place, becoming more useful as they were made truly subject within me to the Light which gave them forth.

        I don’t know that this “slaying of the intellectual part” is necessarily a done-deal in me, but am thankful for open eyes. And I think I can say with Isaac Penington that, “I saw the blindness of that eye which I thought to see so far, and the narrowness of that heart and spirit which had seemed so large and vast in comprehending. And my soul [bows] down to the Lord to slay this, to starve this, to make a fool of this. Indeed, my desire [is] as great after the death of this, as after the enjoyment of life in the Lord.”

        Kristi

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Allan Halton says:

    Ellis, here is my response to your last comment. This is the longest response I’ve written; thank you in advance for considering it. I suppose that if we lived in Fox’s day we would be writing books back and forth to each other. 🙂

    And thanks for clarifying what “the word of the Lord” referred to, that what you wrote was “at the command of the Lord.” I’ll leave that between you and the Lord, which you yourself said you were content to do.

    As for myself, I am just sharing with you my views as one who for many years has given himself to the love of the Truth. You have the privilege and the responsibility of searching out for yourself whether there is any validity to what I am sharing. I don’t really enjoy debating, but a debate in the right spirit—a meek and inquiring spirit, recognizing that “we know in part”—is good, even necessary at times. I’m always hopeful that we may come to agree with one another because we both agree with the Truth.

    At present, as I see it, we differ on several major points.

    The way that Adam’s sin affected the human family. I hold that Adam’s sin is congenital—resulting in all men being born sinners. You don’t accept this.
    The two federal headships—Adam and Christ. You don’t accept this. We have been back and forth extensively regarding 1 and 2; in this response I have a bit more to say.
    You are guarded (if I can put it that way) as to the New Testament scriptures being inspired. I hold that they are.
    In your last response to me, you hold that the work of the Word is no different between BC and AD. I don’t accept this. I will give you my view on it in this present response.

    As to 3, I didn’t intend to say anything further till Kristi posted. First I will requote you, Ellis, whom Kristi quoted as saying, “The standard, the norm, is not a holy, unapproachable generation/s of writers of scripture detailing their experience of the inward work of Christ. Even those writings–what we have of them–are compared against and validated (or brought into question if faulty) by the work of Christ within and among us.” I will say once again that this troubles me, Ellis, for your sake. I consider it to be very shaky ground, even dangerous, to call in question, because we consider something “faulty,” the witness of the scriptures that Christ said testify of Him. How are we sure it’s the scripture that is faulty? It could well be our own understanding that is faulty. It goes without saying that the Teacher within is indispensable; “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Rom. 8:90). But if it the scriptures do not bear witness to “the work of Christ within and among us…” Ellis, please give me an example from your own experience of this—something the work of Christ did, but the scriptures did not “validate.” Perhaps it would help me understand where you’re coming from. I for one have not found that He ever spoke to me anything discordant with the scriptures. Of course, over the years this has meant keeping an open heart before Him, and asking Him to open my understanding, as He did the apostles, that they might understand the scriptures. For veiled in the scriptures is the revelation of Himself (Lk. 24:44,45).

    Having said that, I very much like this excerpt by Penington, who said that Christians today [he is generalizing, for not all do this] “still take what they can from Him to live of themselves, but they refuse to live by Him. They get what knowledge they can from the Scriptures without Him; they get what they can from their exercises and experiences, but neglect the spring of their life.” Indeed, this makes for a stunted or stagnant experience; we must live out from the fountain of living waters Himself and forsake the broken cisterns that can hold no water.

    I also liked very much this that Kristi said: “I have been thoroughly convinced for awhile now that man must live by the Word of God alone, His light must be my guide, and that ‘the letter kills, the Spirit gives life,’ etc, although I still daily read the Scriptures and hold them in high esteem.” And this: “It also seems important to mention that I when this came to me, I didn’t feel I was dishonoring or diminishing the scriptures by welcoming that change from boulder to pebble (hang with me on the analogy), but instead was actually honoring them by allowing them to be put in their proper place, becoming more useful as they were made truly subject within me to the Light which gave them forth.” Amen.

    I am reminded once again that Paul commended Timothy for having known from his youth “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15). Paul continues with, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” 2 Tim.3:16,17). Literally, “all scripture is God-breathed…” and so, as George Fox never tired of repeating, to read the scriptures aright requires reading with the same Breath of God within us.

    Now then, here are my thoughts on the other points.

    Regarding our continuing discussion of Point 1, here is a paragraph from your last response: “You have agreed with me that none are made holy, none are sanctified, none have the spirit of God, none are saved outside of this receiving and believing in the Word who was in the beginning. Then you state, ‘But this is not what Fox wrote…’ Allan, I think you need to go back and read what Fox wrote. The point of those statements from Fox is that not all are born with ‘sin upon their soul’, for the work of Christ is greater than the works of the Devil. Those born of believers are not born ‘in Adam.’ Yes, there has never been disagreement between us that those ‘in Adam’ are children of disobedience. In whom, then, are the children of obedience? This has been the point of discussion all along.” [End of your quote.]

    You asked me to read the Fox quote again. I have read it again several times. And then you said, “The point of those statements from Fox is that not all are born with ‘sin upon their soul’, for the work of Christ is greater than the works of the Devil.” That may be Fox’s point but that is not the point Paul was making in this passage; in my view George Fox has misunderstood Paul here, as I’ve said before. But I need to say something here, Ellis. I hope I have not offended you by suggesting that George Fox is in error here. He is a man whom I and others I have been in fellowship with have loved over the years, but who in my estimation did not always get things right.

    As to what you said, there is no question that the work of Christ is far greater than the works of the Devil; the Son of God being manifested was (and is) the undoing of all the works of the Devil (1 Jn. 3:8). But being born of believing parents does not make children new creations in Christ. That birth is not the birth that is “a work of Christ.” I’m a bit incredulous that this needs even to be stated. To be new creations would mean they were saved, but they are not saved, as the passage itself reveals. For Paul goes on to show that the believing spouse might yet be instrumental in the salvation of the unbelieving one. So the holiness (sanctification) he has in mind is not the “sanctification of the Spirit” that in other passages of scripture means salvation from sin. I enlarged on this in a previous response.

    In any case, the reason we differ on this is because we differ on how the sin of Adam affects the whole human family down to this day. You said further that “those born of believers are not born ‘in Adam.’” As I understand the scriptures, if they are human, Ellis, they are born in Adam, whether the parents are believers or unbelievers. See Romans 5:12. It is almost Roman Catholic doctrine to say that the children of believers are not born in Adam; the RC church teaches that if the parents are in the RC church the children are born into the church. Absolutely false doctrine.

    You said, “Yes, there has never been disagreement between us that those ‘in Adam’ are children of disobedience.” This is news to me—I thought this was the main point of disagreement all along. But okay, now I understand you better; you are saying that those born to believing parents are not born “in Adam.” To which, as I have said, I cannot agree, because the scriptures disagree with you. I’ll take the liberty to enlarge on this once again. From the point of view of scripture, there are only two races in the earth, two generations, two humanities—two men—Adam and Christ, the old man and the new man, the first man and the second man. This is profound and wonderful and staggering and far-reaching truth. It is not possible to be in both at the same time. One is either in Adam or in Christ. In fact Paul in three places says that those who are new creations are so “in Christ” (Gal. 6:15, 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 2:10). The new creation is “in Christ.” “In Christ” is almost Paul’s signature statement, as many have pointed out. That phrase with variations in the pronoun (in whom, in Him, etc.) appears something like a hundred times in his epistles. But John speaks of this too, quoting Jesus’ own words: “Abide in me, and I in you…” “He that abideth in Him sinneth not…” The old man is characterized by death, the new man by life. “We know that we have passed from death to life,” said John, “because we love the brethren. Death, then, is not merely something that terminates mortal life; death is something that reigns over all those in Adam from the cradle to the grave. Whereas in Christ life reigns. “For, if by one man’s offence death reigned by the one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life [in the power of life] by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Peter also speaks of this, although perhaps not as apparently. “But ye are a chosen generation (race)… that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God…” (1 Pt. 2:9,10). This is much in line with what Paul wrote: “For you were once darkness; now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:9). Much more could be said of this—of being begotten by the Light.

    You asked, “In whom, then, are the children of obedience? This has been the point of discussion all along.”

    “In whom, then, are the children of obedience?” Again, your answer is in Romans 5. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). Those in Adam are the children of the disobedience of Adam; those in Christ are the children of the obedience of Christ. Those two—Adam, and Christ—are the two generations of man, one the old man and the other the new man. The children of the flesh are not “the Seed,” are not by nature children of God; they are not by nature born of the Spirit. There is only One who by natural birth was born of the Spirit (Lk. 1:35); all others must be born again to be born of the Spirit. This, again, is why I object to George Fox’s interpretation of Paul’s words—that the children of a believing parent are new creations. Of course there is “that of God in every man,” not just in the children of a believing parent, but in all those in fallen Adam, sinners though they be. The image of God was not totally obliterated in Adam after the fall; there was still in him, and consequently in all men, “that of God,” which enables every man to recognize and receive (or reject) the true Light, and upon receiving Him (that is, upon believing in His name) be given the right to be born again “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12,13). Note that it is not one’s faith that makes one a child of God; this is an important distinction. Believing in His name qualifies one to become a child of God. For, no one can beget himself; only God can beget a child of God—which He delights to do and is faithful to do in response to those who believe.

    Now regarding Point 4. You wrote, “Now, concerning the beginning of the Kingdom of God and when regeneration became a possibility.”

    The first thing to be considered here is that Christ is Himself “the firstbegotten (firstborn) from the dead” (Rev. 1:5). He is “the firstborn among [or in] many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). So it is apparent that none could be regenerated before Christ the firstborn from the dead. Not that Christ needed to be born again (as I said in the paragraph above) but regeneration became possible only after Christ had died and risen and ascended to the Father’s right hand. This is because no one in Adam—all of whom must be born again, Jn. 3:7—can become regenerated without first having died with Christ the death of Christ, whose death brought an end to the old man. (Christ’s death was “the death of death,” as one of old has put it.) Please read Romans 6:1-11 and beyond. Christ died to sin, and therefore those baptized into Him died with Him (vs 8), and are therefore themselves also dead to sin; they are to reckon it so (vs 11). This was God’s “remedy” for what Adam’s disobedience brought into the human family. It wasn’t a renovation of those in Adam that would do the job God wanted done, not even a return of their state to that of Adam before the fall, but the bringing into being of an entirely new creation man, the old man having been crucified with Christ. How is it possible that one may die the death of Christ? Only by being in Christ. How does one get into Christ, or rather, how is one placed into Christ (for this is God’s work)? By being baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:4). This is not speaking of water baptism; water cannot effect this. The Spirit baptism by the One mightier than John, wonder of wonders, does effect this. In this baptism one is baptized into Christ’s death, and into His resurrection life to begin the walk in Christ’s own “newness of life.” It is not possible to have the one (His life) without first being one with Him in His death (Rom. 6:5). This is what baptism into Christ accomplishes. This is the truth as revealed in Romans Chapter 6; in the same chapter Paul reveals how with God’s grace we are able to maintain this great beginning in Christ (Rom. 6:11-23).

    You wrote, “Have you recalled Psalms 145, Daniel chapters 4 & 7, and 2 Peter Chapter 1, all of which speak of the Kingdom of God as everlasting or eternal? For example: “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:13) This “everlasting” is beyond time, something time cannot comprehend. The Kingdom of God has no beginning and no ending.” [End of your quote.] I agree with all of this.

    The kingdom of God is certainly an everlasting kingdom, and God’s intention in the beginning was to give man the kingdom. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…” (Gen. 1:26). This seems to concern the earth and all that is in it. David echoed this. “Thou madest him (man) to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet…” (Ps. 8:6). But when Paul, inspired by the Spirit, takes up this verse, he applies it to things more than earthly, to “all rule and all authority and power” whether heavenly or earthly, and to death itself (1 Cor. 15:24-27). In any case, Adam lost this dominion because of his disobedience, which meant that all those in Adam did not qualify to be heirs of the kingdom by natural birth. However, the God who works all things after the counsel of His own will had another Man in mind even before the beginning, and in the fullness of time gave this Man the kingdom. Daniel prophesied of it in Daniel 7:13,14, where we read of one “like a son of man” who came in the clouds of Heaven to the Ancient of Days, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Jesus while being interrogated by the high priest confirmed that this prophecy spoke of Him. “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Power and coming in the clouds of Heaven” (Mt. 26:6). The everlasting kingdom, then, is the kingdom of the Son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was given Him upon His ascension.

    It will always be His kingdom, which he shares with “the saints of the Most High” (Dan. 7:18,27). It’s quite something how the prophet states this: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan. 7:27). The kingdom was given to the Son of man (vs. 14); in verse 27 we read that it is given to the saints of the most High. For they are one with Him who sits on the throne. “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified (i.e. are saints) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11 NKJV). They are “brethren” because they have received “the Spirit of adoption” (of sonship) and, now being children of God, are His heirs, “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:15-17). That is, if they suffer with Him. There is provision for those who suffer with Him to reign with Him in this kingdom. It means first being born “of water and the Spirit,” and thus entering the kingdom (Jn. 3:5)—and then, continuing faithful, partaking of His sufferings, growing in grace, the entrance is ministered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pt. 1:11). (It’s a challenge, isn’t it, to reconcile that verse with John 3:5. But no, Peter is simply stating that the abounding of these virtues makes that one entrance sure, which by careless living could be lost. His warning and exhortation is to diligence in making the calling and election sure.)

    Without doubt those of old who walked by faith and bore the reproach and sufferings of Christ prior to His advent, though not born again, now have their part in this everlasting kingdom of the Son of man as well. You mentioned a few; no doubt there are many more. Daniel was one of them. “But go thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days” (Dan. 12:13). In other words, during his days on earth Daniel was not yet in that kingdom, but a lot in that kingdom with his name on it was reserved for him. In like manner none of the faithful of old missed out on what in their day had not yet fully unfolded in the eternal purpose of God.

    You wrote, “We have agreed that those born of the flesh alone cannot see the kingdom of God; only those born of the spirit. Consider, then, Enoch and Elijah. Do you tell me that they, by their fleshly birth, were taken into the kingdom of God? Enoch pleased God, which cannot be done except in the birth which makes man into living beings. Elijah was taken up as witnessed by Elisha. It was not his fleshly birth that enabled him to be taken into the kingdom. Did not God pour out his spirit upon the house of Israel? Those who lived in that spirit experienced the second birth, for it can’t be otherwise.” [End of your quote.]

    It would be enough here to make note of the reaction of Nicodemus when Jesus told him, “ye [plural] must be born again.” If the second birth was something that his fathers before him had experienced, you would think that Nicodemus the teacher of Israel would have been quite familiar with it. But no, he was completely taken aback. This was something so entirely new to him that the very idea confounded him; it was completely beyond his comprehension. He marveled at this, asking Jesus, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?”

    But what about Enoch, what about Elijah? I agree with you that what happened to them was not by “their fleshly birth.” However, it was not by new birth either. It was not by new birth that Enoch pleased God, but by faith. “By faith he was translated that he should not see death.” One may have faith without yet having new birth. But it certainly takes faith to qualify for new birth (which the John 1:12-13 passage I referred to earlier reveals). Neither did Elijah know the new birth. He too no doubt walked by faith. Nor did Moses have new birth, who appeared with Elijah on the mount of transfiguration. Nor did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom we know all died, but whom Jesus said were alive, testifying further of many who “shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 8:11). This is because the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob qualified them for their lot in the kingdom when Christ received the kingdom after his ascension.

    As to the other examples you gave from the Old Testament, by referring to the New Testament I would like to shine New Covenant light on those passages. For, the record does not indicate that there was very much success back then; in fact there was great failure. This is why God determined to bring in a New Covenant. Not that the Old was faulty, but “finding fault with them [the people] he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…” (Heb. 8:8). This is how God resolved to deal with that “fault” in the human heart. And so it’s very illuminating to see how the authors of our New Testament take an Old Testament passage and, shining upon it the light of the New Covenant, bring it forth in the true light that God originally intended.

    So with regard to your question: “Did not Jesus tell the disciples “the words I speak to you, these are spirit, these are life? This is the same word that Moses told the Israelites was in their hearts and in their mouths that they should know it and do it.”

    The fact remains that they did not follow up on what Moses told them. Why not? They had no heart for it, as Moses himself knew: “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Dt. 5:29). They did not have this heart. But God gave them the promise of it, also from the mouth of Moses: “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Dt. 30:6). This immediately precedes the passage in Dt. 30:11-14. This circumcision of the heart is a New Covenant promise in Christ. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in [the] baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:12-15).

    And so the Deuteronomy 30 passage, this unheeded word of God from the mouth of Moses, God did not let His word fall to the ground. He brought it forth by Paul in New Covenant light in Romans 10:5-9, stating that this “word” Moses spoke of is “the word of faith, which we proclaim: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Whence comes this faith? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    There are other such words that Moses gave—for example, “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Lev. 19:18)—which when Jesus gives them in the New Covenant become “a new commandment.” Why new? Because they go forth in the power of life.

    I am saying, Ellis, that many of these great passages in the Old Testament scriptures only find their fulfillment in the New Covenant.

    You said, “There is no righteousness before God without being made alive by the spirit of God–the ‘words I speak to you.’” The foundation of the New Covenant is justification by faith, which is righteousness imputed to believers because of the death of Christ their propitiation. Consequent to this is righteousness imparted—salvation by His life. (See Romans 5:1-11). (We discussed this at length in private correspondence some time ago, once again without much agreement as I recall.)

    You brought up Psalm 23, a psalm of David, who at the time was under the Old Covenant. You said, “The Psalmist’s statement is a testimony to possessing this birth, and that before Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father.” I fully agree that David by faith knew Jehovah as his shepherd, who led him in what He had purposed for him in his generation. But as to saying that this means David was born again, no, David was not in the New Covenant. The prophet David is prophesying in this psalm. He is prophesying of the good Shepherd, even Jesus, who would lay down His life for the sheep (Jn. 10:15)—Jesus the great Shepherd, whom God “brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20). The everlasting covenant, then, is the New Covenant.

    Concerning Jeremiah 7:22. “Hear/obey my voice and I will be your God and you shall be my people.” You added, “Now, is God the God of the living or the dead? Only those who are made alive by hearing his voice have the one and only true God to be their God.” [End your quote.] That is true, and you surely have in mind Jesus’ words that the “the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (Jn. 5:25). Just as with the Deuteronomy passage that Moses spoke, the continuing heartbreaking story of those in the Old Covenant to whom Jeremiah was addressing his words is that they refused to hear and obey, breaking the covenant God had made with them, so that He eventually terminated the covenant. But even at that, God did not give up on them. He brought in an entirely New Covenant, this one containing the promise that “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jer. 32:37-40). Wonderful words. Wonderful promises. “I will not turn away from them… they shall not depart from me.” (Are you familiar with Andrew Murray, by the way? One of his best is The Two Covenants.)

    Now Isaiah 54:13. This verse is not speaking of children by natural birth. The context shows that by “all thy children” the prophet has in mind the children of Zion (Jerusalem), the former barren one who, now married to her Maker (Isa. 54:5), brings forth many children. When Paul brings up this passage in Galatians he shows that the prophet (inspired by the Spirit) had in mind “Jerusalem which is above… who is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26)—that is to say, of all those born not “after the flesh” but “by promise,” referring to the difference between Ishmael and Isaac, whose mothers, says Paul, typify the two covenants, the Old and the New. Isaiah Chapter 54, then, is prophetic of the New Covenant.

    Isaiah 55:3 is also prophetic of the New Covenant. I mean, by the “sure mercies of David” is Isaiah really speaking of David of old, who at the time was asleep with his fathers? Is he not speaking of David’s greater Son (as is Ezekiel 34:23,24, for example)? Surely the prophet has Christ in mind. Indeed, Paul says this very thing. He says that “the sure mercies of David” refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:34). This makes it clear that “the everlasting covenant” Isaiah speaks of is the New Covenant.

    The same principle holds true for the rest of Isaiah Chapter 55. It is prophetic of the New Covenant, the word of which shall not return to Him void, the ultimate result of which is the removal of the curse upon the earth (Rev. 22L3). I am sure that Paul has this chapter in mind—all creation clapping its hands— when he writes in Romans 8 of the whole creation being delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

    Speaking now of the house of Israel—it’s not clear to me what scripture you are referring to—you asked rhetorically, “Did not God pour out his spirit upon the house of Israel? Those who lived in that spirit experienced the second birth, for it can’t be otherwise.” Once again, no, they were not regenerated. They were not born again. (Ask Nicodemus.) They were not new creations. They were not in the kingdom of God. All these are benefits of the New Covenant, and they were not in the New Covenant. They had not been baptized into Christ; they had been “baptized unto Moses.” They were under Moses. They were in the Old Covenant. Again I cite to you John the Baptist, the greatest of all these, and himself a man under the Old Covenant. Jesus said that John the Baptist was not in the kingdom of God (Mt. 11:11). (I have cited this verse a couple of times in previous comments but for some reason you continue to overlook it.) Why did Jesus say this? Because John the Baptist had not been regenerated. Regeneration by the Spirit of God is coincidental with the beginning of entrance into the kingdom of God. Even so, where is John the Baptist now? I believe he is in the kingdom of God now. For Christ has ascended to the Throne of glory. The writer of Hebrews—I think with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in mind—writes, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises…” (Heb. 11:13). Further on, having in mind now all those he has been speaking of, he writes that “these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39,40). That, I think, clarifies well the testimony of those who lived prior to the New Covenant. There was “something” they had not yet received. But they would in due time not miss out on it.

    Let me add to the examples you gave. Isaiah “saw His glory, and spake of Him” (Jn. 12:41, Isa. 6:1). Ezekiel saw “the likeness of the glory of the LORD” having seen above the cherubim “the likeness of a throne… and upon the likeness of the throne the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it” (Ez. 1:26,28). Daniel saw “a certain man” describing Him in words very similar to John’s in Revelation Chapter 1. Daniel had seen many visions; this one he referred to as “this great vision” (Dan. 10:5-8). For he had seen a certain Man. Jesus said “your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (Jn. 8:56). Yet all these, prophets all of them, aware that what they were seeing pertained to a day that had not yet arrived, were filled with great longings for that Day. Not one of them was disappointed.

    Another example of an Old Covenant man who was not in the kingdom of God is Joseph of Arimathea, who “waited for the kingdom of God.” Why was he waiting for it if he could already have entered it? And if Israelites under the law of Moses were regenerated, what then did Paul mean by saying, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:4-7).

    It is true that God had poured out His Spirit on many of old. “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.” David cried, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” (Meaning He must have had the Holy Spirit with him.) Micah said he was full of power by the Spirit of the Lord. John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb. Dying in faith, none of these miss out on the eternal purposes of God in Christ. But during their days on earth none of these were begotten (born) of the Spirit, that is, were not regenerated by the Spirit; none of these experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus ministered from the right hand of God after His death, resurrection, and ascension. For this is a specifically New Covenant provision brought into being by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Jesus explained the difference in John 14, the passage in which He promises to send the Paraclete to His disciples. He said, “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (Jn. 14:17). Prior to this they had known the Spirit as One with them. But in sending the Paraclete from Heaven after His ascension, He would now be in them. I know that some of those of old also had the Spirit of Christ in them. But they also knew that this was with regard to something yet to come.

    Here is the passage I have in mind. Peter has been speaking of salvation. “…Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow (1 Pt. 1:10,11).

    Yes, as I said, the Spirit of Christ was in them. But if this meant the same thing Jesus spoke of in John 14:17, why did they inquire and search diligently, “who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you…”? If the same grace of salvation was available to them that has now come to New Covenant saints, why the inquiring and searching? If they had this grace of salvation, why were they “searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ in them did signify when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow…”? Those words—“the glory that should follow.” Obviously there was a coming glory that they themselves did now know—the unfading glory of the New Covenant which was yet to come, and which they did not yet enjoy. Peter continues, “Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven…” I love those words—“they did minister.” That is, serve. A precious insight as to the humility of character and the calling of these men of old, who were serving a generation not yet born.

    “Not unto themselves, but unto us…” This was revealed to them. With such a revelation, how can anyone maintain that there was no difference between then and now? “Not unto themselves but unto us…” It is certainly right, Ellis, to say that “All this, all the work of God from the beginning of time until time is no more, is done in and through Christ, who is the Word of God.” Absolutely. This is true. But your next statement, “It does not matter if the time is B.C. or A.D.” It certainly does matter if the time is BC or AD, because, although it is the same Word of God working, the work of God through the Word of God is different throughout the ages as the eternal purpose of God in Christ unfolds. Here’s one illustration you’re very familiar with. The Prophet whom Moses prophesied God would raise up was not raised up till some 1500 years after Moses prophesied of Him. Consider also this. One of God’s mysteries (one in which you and I, being Gentiles, rejoice) “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed…” (Eph. 3:5). Paul closes his epistle to the Romans with similar words: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” So once again, something radically changed when BC turned to AD.

    Otherwise, why did Peter write what he did? And, as I asked above, why was Joseph of Arimathea waiting for the kingdom of God? Why was he waiting if God had already given provision for him to enter it? And why did the Word that was before all things become flesh? Why did the Word made flesh proclaim that the Kingdom of God was now at hand (if it had been at hand all along)? And why did John the Baptist say that One coming after him was mightier than he because He would baptize not in water but in Holy Spirit and fire? And why did the incarnate Word, whom John baptized in water, not begin His baptism in Holy Spirit while He yet walked the earth? And why did the apostle John say that the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Christ was not yet glorified? You mean, John, that there was no Holy Spirit before Jesus was glorified? Of course there was. But Jesus being glorified inaugurated the sending of the Spirit in a way never before experienced by any man. This is why He told His distressed disciples—they could not bear the thought that He was about to leave them—that it was expedient for them, better for them, to their advantage, profitable for them, that He go away. “For if I go not away, the Paraclete will not come to you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you” (Jn. 16:7). In the sending of the Paraclete, Christ in all His offices would no longer be outside them but in them.

    And so this difference between BC/AD is more than profound. The incarnate Word had “a baptism to be baptized with,” and, said He, “how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Lk 12:50). He was “pressed” regarding this; He could not begin baptizing in the Spirit till He Himself had first undergone the baptism of the cross. And so there is a major difference between the work of the Word of God prior to the incarnation, and after the incarnate Word had endured the death of the cross, and was raised from the dead, and ascended to the Father. He had told His disciples, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (Jn. 16:28). Was it just a matter of His going back to the Father and carrying on just as before? Far from it, there was a major, major difference. The eternal Word came from the Father and became flesh. He returned to the Father as a Man, returning not only as the incarnate Word who need never to have died (if, say, He had returned from the mount of transfiguration), but as the incarnate Word crucified and raised from the dead—a Man who in dying had wrought redemption for fallen man, having conquered sin and death and the Devil with all his hosts. Now, having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He was equipped to begin His more excellent ministry in the Heavens. “Glorify thy Son,” said Jesus in His high priestly prayer, “that Thy Son also may glorify Thee… I have glorified Thee on the earth…” Now He would glorify Him from Heaven at right hand of the Father. Glorify Him how? By sending the Holy Spirit into the earth to glorify Him in the church. “He (the Spirit of truth) shall glorify Me…” For the glory of the Son is the glory of the Father. And so He began baptizing believers in the promised Holy Spirit, regenerating them by the Spirit, thus making them participants in His own eternal life, pouring upon them the Spirit, the abiding anointing of the Anointed One that teacheth all things, the Spirit of truth in them now bearing faithful witness to the Truth Himself upon the throne and leading them into all truth, ministering the word of His grace to believing hearts… these and countless others, the glories of the New Covenant.

    To sum up, then. The Gospel dispensation makes available a power and a glory that was not available before Christ died and rose and ascended. A very major change took place when Christ ascended to the Father and initiated the New Covenant. It took His dying to inaugurate this covenant. It is, He said, “the New Covenant in My blood.” If all the provision of the New Covenant had been available all along, the Word did not need to become flesh, and He did not need to die.

    “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”

    So, Ellis, this is how I see things. No doubt you will have a response; this is indeed your blog. I may not have much more to say.

    Allan

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    • Allan Halton says:

      Ellis, I don’t know why when I posted this, the numerals did not appear on the points I said we differ on. Perhaps you can fix that. I’ve spelled out the numerals in case the same thing happens. It should read:
      1. (One) The way that Adam’s sin affected the human family. I hold that Adam’s sin is congenital—resulting in all men being born sinners. You don’t accept this.

      (Two) The two federal headships—Adam and Christ. You don’t accept this. We have been back and forth extensively regarding 1 and 2; in this response I have a bit more to say.
      (Three) You are guarded (if I can put it that way) as to the New Testament scriptures being inspired. I hold that they are.
      (Four) In your last response to me, you hold that the work of the Word is no different between BC and AD. I don’t accept this. I will give you my view on it in this present response.

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  14. Ellis Hein says:

    Allan, I will begin with your short comment with the numbered points. That makes the discussion easier, until I have to dip into your long comment.

    Number one: Adam’s sin affecting the whole of mankind. There are two things that can affect the make up or character of a new born baby: DNA and environment. I believe I remember you stating that “sin does not come through our DNA.” These may not be your exact words, so correct me if I am putting words into your mouth. So, unless you are advocating for some form of spiritual DNA, you must be proposing that sin comes through the environment–the influence of parents and culture. Again, I am treading on shaky ground of conjecture at what you mean by congenital. If sin is not transmitted by DNA, then the fertilized egg must be free of sin for all that makes the fertilized egg comes from the union of egg DNA and sperm DNA plus the cytoplasm surrounding the genetic material. Or are you saying that sin is embedded in the chromosomal material of sperm and egg without being part of the chromosomal material?

    Number two: Federal Headships. I will address this briefly later when I pick up some of the threads in your long comment

    Number three: inspiration of New Testament scriptures. Allan, I will “show my hand” beforehand. This is a trick question, but I must ask it this way in order to make the point. So the question is “Is Romans 10:17 inspired which says ‘So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God?’ Before I say any more I will wait your answer.

    Number four: Without exhaustively going through your long comment I will point out that you don’t seem to be disputing that the work of God in the Old Testament times was done in and through Christ. That leaves me with the question of why you would expect Christ to carry on his work with only half his “toolbox”?

    Now, concerning a few things in your long comment. Jumping back to your point number one. The dictionary definition of “congenital” is a condition dating from birth. (There could be other definitions, so if you want to spell that out, fine. Right now, I am working from the above definition.) If the fertilized egg is free from sin nature, since sin does not come by DNA, then there exists a time before that nature gets overlayed onto the new-born (by my understanding of your logic), which is what I said that the first birth is a point of divergence. The new-born is either pushed toward hearing the serpent or pushed toward obeying the light of Christ. One cannot stay neutral. Now you state that there are two races in the earth–Adam and Christ. No, there are two conditions–degenerate and regenerate. This is what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:7 “you (singular–check the Greek) must be regenerated from above.” Man was originally generated from above and must be regenerated. There are not two humanities. That which is degenerate has degenerated from God’s creation. Only the regenerate have legitimate claim to humanity. (I am being very picky with words here to make my point.) The serpent is the source of degeneration. Christ has bruised the serpent’s head, overthrown the serpent’s work, and is the source of regeneration.

    Regarding Psalm 23. Look at the tense of those verbs in the Hebrew. They are imperfect tense, i.e. having taken place in the past and ongoing. You can’t make those declarations to be futuristic (foretelling) when the text makes them past tense and continuing. Also Isaiah 54-55. 54:13 seems to be referring to a condition that is not present at the time of writing, but it is not clear. The English verbs “shall be” are not part of the Hebrew. I am not adequate to comment on the legitimacy of that translation. However, as you procede, the verbs are imperfect. And again 55 uses imperative tense verbs. The call to life is not an option call. The source of life is the same as it always has been and always will be–hear my voice, obey my voice.

    Allan, you have jumped to a conclusion and have proceeded to argue with your conclusion, but not with me. It seems you have not considered all I stated. I am referring to your lengthy arguments against something you think I am saying regarding “It does not matter if the time is B.C. or A.D.” The purport of my statement is “This faith is not void of the life that comes from the Word.” This life, enjoyed by the people of God throughout history, comes by eating the spiritual food and drinking the spiritual drink.

    Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

    Those who thus eat and drink are not denied life just because time has not reached the divide we designate as B.C. vs. A.D. This is not a divide such as you see in a watershed where the waters on one side flow in a different direction from the waters on the other side. All “the waters” in time, all the work of God throughout time, flow in the same direction to the same end. Those who lived when it was not the fullness of time are not punished for their faithfulness in their day. They are not second class citizens of the kingdom of God. That which makes us living beings is the same as what made them living beings. The faithful in all ages are made complete in Christ. We are not made complete apart from those who have lived before Jesus’ physical life on Earth. Thus Jesus stated that “Abraham experienced my day and rejoiced” and “Before Abraham was, I am.” Christ’s work is not bound by our constraints of time.

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  15. Allan Halton says:

    Ellis, with regard to “congenital” sin, yes, this is from birth. But, while it is from birth, it is not hereditary sin, the term many use. I hold with UK Bible teacher Ron Bailey, that we get it directly from Adam because we were in Adam when he sinned. This can be illustrated by Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek.
    I understand that you disagree with the concept of original sin. You are not alone.

    The answer to your trick question is that yes, I believe Romans 10:17 is inspired. There. I’ve taken the bait. 😉

    Your next question: “That leaves me with the question of why you would expect Christ to carry on his work with only half his “toolbox”? You might as well ask why He didn’t become flesh in the days of Noah or even earlier. Who are you and I to be His counsellors?

    Concerning regeneration, I understand that you disagree with me. I have nothing further to contribute to this. (By the way, as concerning “you” in John 3:7, in the KJV, thee/thou/thine are always singular; you/your is always plural. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Marvel not that I say unto thee (singular), ye (plural) must be born again.” It could be translated something like, “Marvel not that I say unto you, Nicodemus, y’all must be born again.”

    Concerning Psalm 23 and the passages from Isaiah. I agree with you about the tenses. In fact I had stated, “I fully agree that David by faith knew Jehovah as his shepherd, who led him in what He had purposed for him in his generation.” In doing so, in serving God in his generation, what he wrote and much that he did was prophetic. I know next to nothing about Hebrew tenses but I understand that it does not have a future tense. Only past and present. A prophecy in the past tense is God’s way of saying that something yet to come is certain to come to pass. It’s a “done deal.”

    You said, “Those who lived when it was not the fullness of time are not punished for their faithfulness in their day. They are not second class citizens of the kingdom of God.”
    I fully agree. Their faithfulness, far from being punished, was rewarded, as I tried to make clear in the illustration of Daniel, who was told to go his way and rest (ie, with his fathers) because he would in God’s time “stand in thy lot (inheritance) at the end of the days.”

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Allan, I missed your illlustration regarding Daniel. My apologies.

      You stated:

      Your next question: “That leaves me with the question of why you would expect Christ to carry on his work with only half his “toolbox”? You might as well ask why He didn’t become flesh in the days of Noah or even earlier. Who are you and I to be His counsellors?

      I did not ask why Christ did not become flesh in the days of Noah, but why you wished to limit Christ’s ability to carry on his work. It is obvious that Christ did not come in the flesh during the days of Noah because it would not have served the purpose until the fullness of time had come. It is not obvious what you gain by limiting Christ’s work of regeneration to time after his ascension. If Abraham experienced the day of Christ and rejoiced, then he experienced the light and life that come with the dawning of that day. His rejoicing was in the life that comes only from the Word who was in the beginning else he had nothing to rejoice about.

      One more look at John 3:7. The Greek for “you” in both instances in that verse have the meaning of “second person, singular: thou”.

      OK, the Romans 10:17 text. I will look at three texts.

      King James Version says: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

      Revised Standard states: “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ.”

      The Greek text for that verse would say, “So the faith, belief, trust, confidence, fidelity, faithfulness is from the faculty of hearing and the faculty of hearing through the utterance of Christ.” (The Greek noun for Christ is in the genitive case which indicates possession–Christ possesses the utterance, it is his.)

      KJV rendering could easily be, and often is, understood to say that faith comes ultimately through reading the Bible, which is held to be that “word of God” Paul is talking about. The RSV rendering is in passive voice and the meaning is ambiguous. That “of” in the phrase “preaching of Christ” could mean “by” or it could mean “about.” We English speakers are very sloppy regarding our use of prepositions. I have heard countless sermons aligned with “about” and none that I can think of that align with “by.”

      The Greek is much clearer that faith comes through hearing Christ speaking. This also aligns with the Hebrews text stating that Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. It is he who speaks and we gain faith in that speaker by living according to what we hear. This brings about a living, dynamic faith. This is the goal, the end, of all true preaching and true ministry: to bring the hearers into the experience of recognizing and heeding Christ speaking to them. See, for example, this from Fox’s Journal:

      At another place, I heard some of the magistrates said among themselves, If they had money enough, they would hire me to be their minister.’ This was, where they did not well understand us, and our principles: but when I heard of it, I said, ‘It was time for me to be gone; for if their eye was so much to me, or any of us, they would not come to their own teacher.’ For this thing (hiring ministers,) had spoiled many, by hindering them from improving their own talents; whereas our labour is, to bring every one to their own teacher in themselves.(Works of Fox, Vol. II, p. 128)

      Trying to live according to what one hears about Christ produces a travesty of dead and brittle belief lacking any inward assurance and evidence of life.

      Our rendering of this passage, Romans 10:17 (and others), into English points to theological bias and degrades the integrity and usefulness of scripture. Our entrenched biases cannot be considered inspired by God. I am, therefore, hesitant to give blanket statements regarding what we have as the Bible. If your Bible has marginal notes or footnotes that tell you literal meanings, these often give marked differences of understanding than the main text. Romans 10:17 is just one instance among many. You have asked me to name one instance of Christ’s speaking to me that contradicted what we have in the Bible. The Romans passage is a good example.

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  16. Allan Halton says:

    Ellis, I’ll get back to you later on other things in your comment, but for now, here is the Greek parsing of the pronouns in John 3:7 from the Blue Letter Bible. They are not both singular. As I maintained, “thee” is singular and “you” is plural.

    You can check it yourself at:
    https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/jhn/3/7/t_conc_1000007

    Inflected: σοι

    Root: σοί

    Strong’s: G4671

    Language: Greek
    Code: P-2DS
    Long: Personal / Possessive Pronoun – 2nd Person Dative Singular
    Speech: Personal / Possessive Pronoun
    Person: 2nd Person
    Case: Dative
    Number: Singular

    Inflected: ὑμᾶς

    Root: ὑμᾶς

    Strong’s: G5209

    Language: Greek
    Code: P-2AP
    Long: Personal / Possessive Pronoun – 2nd Person Accusative Plural
    Speech: Personal / Possessive Pronoun
    Person: 2nd Person
    Case: Accusative
    Number: Plural

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Interesting! I will look at the Greek words again that I was looking at and send them to you for comparison.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      OK, Allan, I see the mistake. The website I was looking at (https://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/3.htm) gives the same Strong number for both Greek words. The Greek words agree with what you sent plus the abbreviations below the English text state one “you” is singular and the other plural. Maybe I should not put too much confidence in what I see in that site. Thanks for the correction. I did wonder why there could be that discrepancy, both of us checking the Greek. I have no quarrel with “you (plural)” must be born again.

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  17. Allan Halton says:

    Hi Ellis, first, a loose end I need to tie up. Congenital sin has nothing to do with the DNA of our physical makeup. The only change in our physical body is when it becomes a glorified body.

    Now to finish my response to your last comment. Here’s another loose end I need to tie up. I agree with what you said about there being “two conditions– degenerate and regenerate.” These two, in my view, are the two humanities, two races (although I acknowledge that the word “race” comes loaded with other ideas).

    You said that “It is not obvious what you gain by limiting Christ’s work of regeneration to time after his ascension.” It’s not I who am limiting this to the time after his ascension; Christ Himself stated prior to the cross that He had a baptism to be baptized with, and was “straitened” till it be accomplished. Please read over again the paragraph in my lengthy comment beginning, “And so this difference between BC/AD is more than profound.” As I said in that paragraph, I am simply saying that Christ’s work of regeneration could not begin till after the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension. The “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured on us abundantly” that Paul wrote to Titus about began after the ascension. That is when He poured out the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost. Having said that, I think you must be agreeing with me now—I’m happy to hear that you have “no quarrel” with Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, for, as I said earlier, the very idea of regeneration was entirely foreign to this schooled teacher of Israel, whereas if his fathers had experienced it, he would not have been completely floored by what Jesus was saying.

    As to John 10:17, your translation from the Greek (a bit expanded) is good. You said, “The Greek is much clearer that faith comes through hearing Christ speaking.” I fully agree, and have not said anything otherwise all along. I maintain, though, that very often Christ speaks through the scriptures, quickening the scriptures to the heart so that they become not just “the letter,” but His living word.

    I agree with what you said in the rest of that paragraph. And I loved the quotation from Fox:
    “At another place, I heard some of the magistrates said among themselves, If they had money enough, they would hire me to be their minister.’ This was, where they did not well understand us, and our principles: but when I heard of it, I said, ‘It was time for me to be gone; for if their eye was so much to me, or any of us, they would not come to their own teacher.’ For this thing (hiring ministers,) had spoiled many, by hindering them from improving their own talents; whereas our labour is, to bring every one to their own teacher in themselves.” (Works of Fox, Vol. II, p. 128)
    That is so, so true, and it is lamentable that all who stand behind a pulpit do not lay this to heart.

    You said, “You have asked me to name one instance of Christ’s speaking to me that contradicted what we have in the Bible. The Romans passage is a good example.” What I had actually asked was, “Ellis, please give me an example from your own experience of this—something the work of Christ did, but the scriptures did not ‘validate.’” I had asked that because you had said, “The standard, the norm, is not a holy, unapproachable generation/s of writers of scripture detailing their experience of the inward work of Christ. Even those writings–what we have of them–are compared against and validated (or brought into question if faulty) by the work of Christ within and among us.” It was those words—“the work of Christ within and among us”—that led me to ask for an example of some “work of Christ,” something from “your own experience.” Your citing “the Romans passage” seems more a matter of doctrine than from “your own experience.”

    In any case, regarding your response that “The Romans passage is a good example”—if you have in mind the Romans 5 passage we discussed at length, I continue to be unhappy with your stand on that. If it’s Romans 10:17, okay, but it’s not really a contradiction. It’s a problem with English translation. There will always be problems with translating into a different language. Perhaps you’ve missed that I addressed this earlier, stating that the resources we have available in the English language give us ample opportunity to get the sense of the Hebrew or Greek texts. Interpreting them is another matter, which cannot be done without the help of the One who inspired them in the first place.

    And so with that, Goodbye for now, friend Ellis.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Allan, I have read again your paragraph beginning “And so this difference between BC/AD…” In that paragraph you go to some length about Jesus’ request that the Father glorify the Son. You also intimate that this glory would be different because he now would be sending the Holy Spirit to believers. You then state

      To sum up, then. The Gospel dispensation makes available a power and a glory that was not available before Christ died and rose and ascended. A very major change took place when Christ ascended to the Father and initiated the New Covenant. It took His dying to inaugurate this covenant. It is, He said, “the New Covenant in My blood.” If all the provision of the New Covenant had been available all along, the Word did not need to become flesh, and He did not need to die.

      Here again you miss the point. The glorification of the Son is the same glory he had with the Father before the world was, not a different glory, not an expanded glory. You are ignoring Jesus’ statement about Abraham experiencing the day of Christ and rejoicing in that day. You are missing the concept of John’s phrase regarding the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. You are missing the understanding that the work of Christ is not bound by time. You are missing that the New Covenant “in my blood” refers to “in my life” for the blood was considered the life of the sacrificial animal. This life was in the Word before the world was and the covenant between God and man has stood in the life since the beginning of the world. I have not said there is no difference between B.C. and A.D. I have said that it does not matter whether it is B.C. or A.D., the work of God is carried on through Christ. I have said that where there is faith there is life whether you are talking about people B.C. or A.D. All that Christ has done from creation onward has been done through what he accomplished during his physical life, death, and ressurrection on Earth. If all power is given unto him, then all time is given to him.

      The example you asked for:

      What I had actually asked was, “Ellis, please give me an example from your own experience of this—something the work of Christ did, but the scriptures did not ‘validate.’” I had asked that because you had said, “The standard, the norm, is not a holy, unapproachable generation/s of writers of scripture detailing their experience of the inward work of Christ. Even those writings–what we have of them–are compared against and validated (or brought into question if faulty) by the work of Christ within and among us.” It was those words—“the work of Christ within and among us”—that led me to ask for an example of some “work of Christ,” something from “your own experience.” Your citing “the Romans passage” seems more a matter of doctrine than from “your own experience.”

      Your first iteration of that request was: “I challenge you to share with me something the living Word has spoken to you, but the scriptures do not bear witness to.” It may have escaped your notice that this whole discussion began because of an inward experience of the work of Christ, a check regarding Paul’s statement that “all have sinned” and your subsequent assertions that all are born with a sin nature. I wrote you concerning the command I received that I am to stand on the rock of the inward experience of Christ’s work in me, which did not align with Paul’s statement that we are all children of wrath by nature. I could give you a lifetime of other examples that have no bearing on what we are writing about, where Christ has spoken to me regarding things that have nothing to do with scripture. It only takes one deviation to discredit a statement of “all have sinned” “all have a sin nature.” I have provided you with several examples. All these you have assured me are not borne out by scripture, and you have attempted to argue them away. Therefore this whole exchange should satisfy you concerning something from the inward work of Christ that the scriptures do not validate (from your perspective). Not only have you argued against the examples from scripture I suggested, you have argued that the inward experience of Christ is unreliable. How then are you likely to understand any example I put forward if you cannot see this one which has drawn out to this length? However, these works of Christ are out of reach of arguments. The inward check still stands. Christ’s command still stands.

      Regarding what you said about the passage from the Works of Fox, Vol. II, p. 128. “That is so, so true, and it is lamentable that all who stand behind a pulpit do not lay this to heart.” Yes, and I will go further and say that if those who “stand behind a pulpit” did lay Fox’s statement to heart, they would no longer stand behind pulpits. See Edward Burrough’s statement:

      And so we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their temples, and all their baptisms and churches; and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in religion, in times before zealously performed by us, through ‘divers forms, and we became fools for Christ’s sake, that we might become truly wise. And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men’s words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure Spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God, which the world yet lives in [i.e. those professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God–my comment]. (Works of Fox, Vol. III, p.13)

      There is no good place to stop quoting from Burrough’s introduction.

      Your paragraph:

      As to John 10:17, your translation from the Greek (a bit expanded) is good. You said, “The Greek is much clearer that faith comes through hearing Christ speaking.” I fully agree, and have not said anything otherwise all along. I maintain, though, that very often Christ speaks through the scriptures, quickening the scriptures to the heart so that they become not just “the letter,” but His living word.

      My translation was from Romans 10:17, not John. I am confident you meant to write Romans. I am glad you agree that faith comes through hearing Christ speaking. Therefore, those of the Old Testament times who had faith, had that faith because they heard Christ speaking. And Christ’s speaking, “the words I am speaking to you,” is spirit and is life. Walking in, dwelling in, his speaking is eating his body and drinking his blood (his life) no matter what epoch the receiver of those words lived in. With this you have been disagreeing all along unless I misunderstand you.

      Now Christ speaking through the words of scripture does not make them “His living word” anymore than Christ speaking through me makes me Christ. Attempting to make the scriptures, even temporarily, “His living word” is to make them into an idol, which blinds one’s eyes and stops ones ears. Such a one may be able to quote scripture from the beginning to the end of the book and even speak eloquently on what is contained therein. But that one abides in the nature of the swine who trample underfoot the pearls of the kingdom.

      As to your statement “I think you must be agreeing with me now—I’m happy to hear that you have “no quarrel” with Jesus’ words to Nicodemus…” There has never been disagreement about the need to be born again. The disagreement lies in whether the physical birth comes with a sin nature. To say the physical birth does not come with a sin nature does not negate the need of being born of the spirit. The physical birth does not inherit the kingdom of God because that birth is physical and the kindgom is spiritual.

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  18. Allan Halton says:

    Ellis, you appear again to have missed the point I was making about Nicodemus. I’ve already tried to clarify it, but will do so once more. My point was that if regeneration was something his fathers had experienced it would not have been so incomprehensible to him when Jesus told him that “you must be born again.” This was entirely unheard of to Nicodemus, yet Jesus called him “a teacher of Israel.” If his fathers had known this it would have certainly been familiar to one who had graduated from one of the rabbinical schools of the day. On this basis and for other reasons I gave you I conclude that, although those of old had faith, they were not born again. They were not in the New Covenant, they were not in the kingdom of God.

    The example of Abraham seeing the day of Christ is one I brought up. Yes, Abraham saw the day of Christ. He was among those whom the writer of Hebrews said “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Heb. 11:13).

    You said, “I have said that it does not matter whether it is B.C. or A.D., the work of God is carried on through Christ. I have said that where there is faith there is life whether you are talking about people B.C. or A.D.” I fully agree that “whether it is B.C. or A.D. the work of God is carried on through Christ,” for He is the Word. But saying that “where there is faith there is life” takes things too far in my estimation, for you obviously mean that those of old who had faith had regeneration—eternal life. I disagree with this, and went to some length to show why in earlier comments.

    As to this that you said: “All that Christ has done from creation onward has been done through what he accomplished during his physical life, death, and resurrection on Earth. If all power is given unto him, then all time is given to him.” I hesitate to say Amen to that but will give it further thought. In any case, there are some things that Christ did not do before His incarnation. Redemption. Regeneration. Establishing the kingdom of God. When He came His message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” It was not at hand prior to then. I know I am repeating myself, but that is why Jesus said that John the Baptist, the greatest of all born of women, was not in the kingdom of God. Those of old walked by faith and waited for the kingdom of God. Joseph of Arimathea, for example. I think I gave you that example, I’m repeating myself. I wrote at length concerning 1 Peter 1:10-12. I’m repeating myself by bringing that up, but it’s an important passage confirming my stand. Peter also wrote of “a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who by him do believe in God…” And so I am not missing John’s words in The Revelation about “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Indeed, He was foreordained before the foundation of the world. But He was manifested in God’s timing. Paul states that in his day God was revealing something that “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel…”

    You said, “You are missing that the New Covenant “in my blood” refers to “in my life” for the blood was considered the life of the sacrificial animal.” Ellis, it is as clear as day that when Jesus spoke those words He had his pending death in mind. Yes, the life is in the blood. But the life of the sacrifice was poured out in death. “He poured out His soul (His life, His blood) unto death…” That was essential for the “cutting” of the new covenant, as the Old Testament patterns reveal. Someone has said that Christ poured Himself out twice—once in death at Calvary, and then after His ascension when He poured out the Holy Spirit, His very life, that we might live His life. We discussed this matter at great length in private correspondence a few years ago without coming to agreement. It looks like that has not changed so no point pursuing this again.

    As to this: “It may have escaped your notice that this whole discussion began because of an inward experience of the work of Christ, a check regarding Paul’s statement that “all have sinned” and your subsequent assertions that all are born with a sin nature. I wrote you concerning the command I received that I am to stand on the rock of the inward experience of Christ’s work in me, which did not align with Paul’s statement that we are all children of wrath by nature.” (End of your quote.) Ellis, there is no point labouring this any further, you and I do not see eye to eye on this. I continue to hold with Paul, and consider you in serious error on this.

    But having said that, I have do a comment to make about this that you said: “I could give you a lifetime of other examples that have no bearing on what we are writing about, where Christ has spoken to me regarding things that have nothing to do with scripture.” If I understand what you are saying, I could do the same, He has spoken to me that way as well, and it’s scriptural (to be led by the Word and Spirit of God) even though the Scriptures don’t give specific direction as to whether I should be led this way or that in a decision I have to make, whether I should take this job or that, etc. How could the Scriptures even begin to do that for the multitudes of believers in the world? What is scriptural is that God is faithful to lead His own by His Spirit. Meaning the word He speaks by His Spirit. Scripture does give us many examples of this, of people being led by the Word and Spirit of God. Paul for example was “forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” It was a matter of timing, because we read that later he preached the word in Asia for two years, “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” In other words, he once had a leading not to go into Asia, and later a leading to go into Asia. The Scriptures themselves could give him no such specific direction; leadings like this could only come from the Spirit of the Lord. Yet in both cases what Paul was doing was in perfect harmony with the Scriptures—being led by the Spirit of the Lord is scriptural. So also with us. We mind that inner Voice who is faithful to lead us in things the Scriptures don’t detail for us—the “witness of the Spirit” within, and we proceed accordingly. Or a “check in the Spirit” if we are making a misstep. In your case you said you had a “check” regarding what Paul had written. In my case I had a “check” about what you said regarding Paul. How do you account for that? One of us is wrong. You are certain the Word within directed you. I am just as certain that the “check” I felt was from that same Word, and the Scriptures back me up on that. As I’ve said before, instead of calling in question what Paul wrote, I hold what he wrote to be inspired Scripture. This means that if there is an apparent discrepancy (regarding Psalm 14), the problem is with my own understanding, not the Scriptures. I said this earlier. So I wait patiently for further revelation from the One who inspired the Scriptures of truth. In His light we shall see light. I am sure of that. (In fact just this morning I received what I think is illumination on “the generation of the righteous” of Psalm 14 but will continue to wait on Him regarding this till I am completely sure.)

    Yes, it’s Romans 10:17 that I meant; thanks for catching that. As to your calling “swine” those who hold the Scriptures to be Christ’s living word when He speaks through them… you are tarring with a very wide brush, Ellis, and I happily take my place among many of those “swine” you reproach. This is not idolatry, far from it, and I stand in doubt of you for saying something like that. Personally I don’t know how many times it has happened, countless times—and many I am in fellowship with have the same experience—that a passage of Scripture came alive to me, and I recognized that Christ Himself was speaking to me, was speaking those words, was breathing His Spirit into the words of Scripture, and “the letter” came alive, became a living word. For, “the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” On another note, this is why any who are “able ministers of the new covenant” are so only as they minister the Spirit as they expound the Scriptures. But there are many who do just that.

    …Ellis, how I wish we were of one mind. But it seems neither of us is able to persuade the other. Is it time, then, for us to agree to disagree on these things and terminate what is obviously a fruitless exchange? After you’ve had the last word (for, as you pointed out earlier, this is your blog) perhaps we need to leave it to any who read these comments to make their own assessment.

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Allan, There are some things that needs to be straightened out before I turn loose of all this.

      You wrote:

      As to this: “It may have escaped your notice that this whole discussion began because of an inward experience of the work of Christ, a check regarding Paul’s statement that “all have sinned” and your subsequent assertions that all are born with a sin nature. I wrote you concerning the command I received that I am to stand on the rock of the inward experience of Christ’s work in me, which did not align with Paul’s statement that we are all children of wrath by nature.” (End of your quote.) Ellis, there is no point labouring this any further, you and I do not see eye to eye on this. I continue to hold with Paul, and consider you in serious error on this.

      Allan, you are the one who asked for an example of something the inward work of Christ did that the scripture did not validate. I provided you the most relevant example. I had no intention of labouring the point any further.

      I have noted your arguments regarding Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus and your stated implications that those statements mean there had been no regeneration prior to Jesus’ ascension etc. I have also noted indications in the Old Testament scriptures, testimonies of life, that do not line up with what you are stating.

      And the point you make about Abraham “seeing the day of Christ” is not the same thing I was saying. I stated Abraham “experienced” the day of Christ. Those statements could mean the same thing, but not necessarialy. One can “see” a day from afar and not participate, but one cannot “experience” the day of Christ without experiencing life.

      Now, concerning old discussions. You stated: “Ellis, it is as clear as day that when Jesus spoke those words [the new covenant in my blood] He had his pending death in mind. Yes, the life is in the blood. But the life of the sacrifice was poured out in death.” Allan, death, by definition, is a loss of life. Death is a negation. Death is an empty hole where there used to be a living being. There is nothing to be poured out, the life has vanished. When the Israelite people were sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice, when the various implements of the priestly craft were sprinkled with blood, they were sprinkled with the life of the sacrifice. This is a shadow of being sprinkled with the life of Christ to be cleansed from dead works and made living beings able to serve a living God. Death cannot do that. We hear a lot of rhetoric about people who “gave their life for…” No, they gave their death for that is all we have. But when scriptures speak of Jesus giving his life, we have his life, we have substance. Death ensalves. Jesus’ life sets free. Jesus stated, “I have power to lay down my life, I have power to take it up again.” This is not a negation, this is a passage through nothingness to eternal substance. This passage comes by way of a life that could not be extinguished by death. The power of the covenant Jesus established lies in substance rather than in negation, in life rather than death. These are the things that are as clear as day. And even though this is old material, it bears repeating.

      Finally, I think you are taking what I wrote and making it into something I did not say. I will put the two paragraphs together: mine first, yours following.

      Me:

      Now Christ speaking through the words of scripture does not make them “His living word” anymore than Christ speaking through me makes me Christ. Attempting to make the scriptures, even temporarily, “His living word” is to make them into an idol, which blinds one’s eyes and stops ones ears. Such a one may be able to quote scripture from the beginning to the end of the book and even speak eloquently on what is contained therein. But that one abides in the nature of the swine who trample underfoot the pearls of the kingdom.

      You:

      As to your calling “swine” those who hold the Scriptures to be Christ’s living word when He speaks through them… you are tarring with a very wide brush, Ellis, and I happily take my place among many of those “swine” you reproach. This is not idolatry, far from it, and I stand in doubt of you for saying something like that. Personally I don’t know how many times it has happened, countless times—and many I am in fellowship with have the same experience—that a passage of Scripture came alive to me, and I recognized that Christ Himself was speaking to me, was speaking those words, was breathing His Spirit into the words of Scripture, and “the letter” came alive, became a living word. For, “the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”

      It is not I who wield the brush and it is life, not tar that is being spread. It is not I who reproach. It is Christ himself who calls all to come out of this error. Whoever will own his reproach will be given opportunity of repentance and ammendment of life. Those who bristle and growl at the reproach cannot receive such opportunity. The scriptures are to be owned in their place: a testimony to Christ who alone is the living word. To say that the letter became a living word because you heard Christ speaking to you is to enter confusion. If you heard Christ speaking to you, the profound, awe-filled event is that you heard Christ speaking to you. Even if he spoke words of scripture, your attention and worship are to be centered on him. To declare the scriptures to be Christ’s living word is to take your eye off Christ. Herein are the scriptures made into an idol, elevated out of their place of testimony, and become the center of focus. Here are those who take on the nature of the swine, trampling under foot the pearls of the Kingdom of God while at the same time glorifying the scripture by calling it names belonging only to Christ. Names have meaning. Names have authority. Names carry a power in our clarity before God. All this is lost when we enter into confusion. Now it is up to you whether you take on this swinish nature or not. But you seem to lightly write words that make me tremble on your behalf: “I happily take my place among many of those swine you reproach.” Allan, if you knew the abhorrent nature of that condition you would not dare utter such words, even in argument with me.

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  19. Allan Halton says:

    Ellis, I stand by what I said in defence of my friends. They are not swine and neither am I, who many times have experienced the letter of Scripture becoming living words because the living Word was speaking them by His Spirit. We worship Him, not the Scriptures.

    I hold no ill will toward you, Ellis. In fact my heart is for you. I always like to remind my self that “we know in part.” But there is coming a day when we see no longer “through a mirror, obscurely,” but “face to face,” and “shall know even as we ourselves are known.” I am sure you and I will be seeing eye to eye then.

    Allan

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    • Ellis Hein says:

      Allan, no one has called either you or your friends swine. I have pointed out the ground and root of that swinish nature. You have taken the appellation upon yourself and upon your friends. No one has denied that Christ at times uses scripture words to speak to the heart. That which is to be denied is elevating scripture above its rightful place. This is not the first time you would make scripture to be the word of God, the glory of that name belongs only to Christ. Do not hide behind seeing though a mirror darkly but come to that state wherein “all these things concerning man, and concerning the times and seasons, and the changing and renewing of times, and all things that pertain to salvation, and redemption, and eternal life, needful for man to know, all these were revealed, discovered, and made known to us, by the light which was in us, which Christ had lighted us withal.” (Works of Fox, Vol. III, p.12)

      Now, if a rock lands in a flock of geese, as the old adage goes, the one that first squawks is the one that got hit. You can take your reaction to the things I have written to Christ and there determine if it constitutes a squawk–a reaction to being convicted.

      Good will or ill will, whether yours or mine, means nothing if not accompanied by walking in obedience to the light of Christ which throroughly searches the heart.

      For God hath raised up his own seed in his saints, which seed, Christ, is but one in all, and spreads over all, and throughout all; and we now are through him come to have dominion and power over the evil one, and to tread upon that which hath been too strong for us, the enemy of our peace, and the enemy of our unity with God and one with another. So in that, which is raised up in us, which trampleth upon the earthly, dark power, have we unity with God, and fellowship with his son, and unity one with another; so are known to one another in that, which none, who are of the world, knoweth. So our life is hid, and our happiness, joy, and delight hid from all, who are ruled and governed by the prince of the air, from under whose dominion and government we are redeemed by the only redeemer Christ Jesus, not with corruptible things, neither is our redemption of man, nor by man, nor according to the will of man, but contrary to man’s will. And so, our unity and fellowship with vain man are lost, and all his evil ways are now turned into enmity ; and all his profession is now found to be deceit, and in all his fairest pretences lodgeth cruelty; and the bottom and ground of all his knowledge of God and Christ is found sandy, and cannot endure the tempest. For being brought off from that foundation, and having suffered the loss of all, which seemed beautiful upon the sand, (which was there builded according to that wisdom which was not eternal, but was earthly, upon which the curse of God was, and yet doth remain, where it is standing,) we declare against that bottom and foundation, by the power of God, in that light of Christ, which discovers all false foundations, and makes manifest all sandy bottoms, which man hath builded upon.(Works of Fox, Vol. VII, pp.31-32)

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