One way we can consider a doctrine is by comparing it with other doctrines that answer similar questions. In the above picture, I have drawn a pendulum with five views of salvation. In the middle is a view, which in the 80s-90s, was called, “Free Grace.” This is the view that I adhere to and it teaches that salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone. The further the pendulum swings to the left, the more the doctrines teach that faith is insufficient, that is, the more works are required on our part. The further the pendulum swings to the right, the more the doctrines teach that faith is unnecessary, that is, the more we are saved apart from faith in Christ.
Congratulations on your reassignment to America. Now that Europe is essentially secure, the higher echelons are shifting their attention across the ocean. I put in a good word for you and you will be assigned to one of the most elite units in the West as you work with unbelievers who have begun going to American churches.
Tsar Ivan the Terrible was known for his paranoia and terrible fits of rage. Anyone who angered Ivan the Terrible to the slightest degree faced instant execution. He was constantly throwing violent tantrums, and during one outburst, Ivan even beat his own son and heir to death. Standing up to the tsar in those times was an unthinkable act, but one day a so called “Fool for Christ” named Basil did just that. It was spring in Russia, a time when followers of Russian Orthodoxy fast for Lent. Basil approached Ivan the Terrible and offered him a slab of raw meat, insisting that there was no point in fasting, since the tsar had committed too many murders to be able to cover his sin with the act of fasting. Ivan realized that Basil was right, and deeply respected him for standing up to him. In fact, when Basil died, Ivan the Terrible himself acted as a pallbearer at the funeral and named the most famous cathedral in Russia after him.
Hanukkah had begun in Jerusalem. It was winter and Jesus was walking around in the temple at Solomon’s Porch, so the Jews surrounded Him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us bluntly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you don’t believe. The work that I do in the name of My Father testifies on my behalf, but you don’t believe, since you are not from My sheep, as I’ve told you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me and I give them everlasting life and they will never ever perish and nobody will pry them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all and nobody can pry them from the hand of My Father; My Father and I are one.” (John 10:22-30)
This is Part II of a two-part series. Read Part I.
We are reading the Bible like architects by using what we know to find what we don’t know. In the last article, we looked at the core of Jas 2:14-26 and saw that “justify” only means “to declare righteous.” God calls someone righteous when he believes and people call someone righteous when they see his good works. For example, Abraham was justified by and before God by faith and he was justified by and before men by works.
Here are nine easy things we noticed about Jas 2:21-25 in Part I:
When I was in High School, I took an architecture class that I especially enjoyed. We got to use paper, right angles, compasses, and other cool instruments that architects use along with our knowledge of geometry to solve whatever problems the teacher presented to us. Often the problems involved taking limited information and using it to extract other information. He would always say the same thing:
Use what you know to find what you don’t know.
That’s some solid advice. Once we establish that something is true, we can use it to make sense of things that we don’t know or don’t understand. The applications of this advice go far beyond High School architecture; it’s essentially how we progress in science and technology. It is also a fundamental concept to interpreting documents, whether they be laws, historical records, or even the Bible.