Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Faith or Works?

I got this in an email a long time ago and was wondering what you all think of it.

The Letter
"You have joined a number of my web rings, and you seem to have a desire for Truth. I see that you also began a forum where you discuss opinions on many issues. On the Gate of Eden ( http://GateOfEden.com ) web site you will find one of the most important necessary conditions for seeking the Truth. After all, if the Bible were easy to understand, then everyone would read it and proclaim the same revelation. And it must be recognized that some of the greatest minds have read the scriptures, and they all come away with a different and often conflicting interpretation. And what they fail to understand is the fact that this is by design. You pose the question: "does God want us to interpret the Bible? How do we do that? What if we are wrong, or someone else is wrong? The original teachings of Yeshua and TheWay were purely spiritual -- we are the prodigal sons and daughters -- and we must return to the Edenic Kingdom within us while we are still in the body-vessel. Because a great number of the Gentiles lived a heathen lifestyle and were overburdened by a pagan mindset, they were unable to grasp the spiritual essence of the teachings of TheWay, and they failed to comprehend that the scriptures are the Key of Knowledge that must be turned within self, in order to open the inner "narrow gate" to the Kingdom. In their blindness, they created a dogmatic church than in its idolatry and paganism, became the Synagogue of Satan. The above conditions off the Gate of Eden web site of which I speak is found in the words: There are many other references to the Kingdom as something that a believer must find and manifest in their life. Throughout all of the New Testament it is asserted that if a person is to find the Kingdom, they must free themselves from the things and thinking of this world. Thus, Yeshua taught: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matt 13:44-46 NKJ). The Kingdom of God being within us, is indeed the treasure that is hidden in the field of our body/mind. And the Kingdom can only be found by those who are "...seeking beautiful pearls" and are prepared to sell all that they have in this world in order to acquire it. This inner reality is further portrayed in the words of Yeshua where he taught: "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn'" (Matt 13:24-30 NKJ). Thus, Yeshua came and taught men how to live and seek the Kingdom within -- but the devil created the false doctrines that men are saved by belief without producing a good crop of fruit. There is nothing in the scriptures that even remotely suggests that we can live in the manner of the unbelievers and heathen as cultural Christians attempt to do today, and expect to inherit the Kingdom. Further, Yeshua did not teach that man is saved by proclaiming belief without a total change of mind in conjunction with the manner that the disciple lived their life. One of the truly prime examples of this fact is seen where the English translation of the scripture says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2 NAS). The meaning of the original Greek, which literally means to “change the mind”, conveys a message of great depth that is not apparent in our English translations today. To phrase the thought that is being expressed, the true meaning is to “Open and unloose the mind, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. This is truly important for the person of faith to come to terms with -- for it is the beginning of The Way. When we begin to put these words into their proper context with respect to the Kingdom within (Luke 17:20-21), then we can see that the Gate of Eden which in the New Testament is portrayed as the "narrow gate", can only be entered by unloosing the mind from the anchor of the doctrines and thinking of men -- opening the mind to the inner reality of the Kingdom -- and this can only be accomplished by living one's life in strict accord with the Commandments and Teachings of Yeshua and TheWay. Most believers of the simple faith will immediately reject the above, because they think in a group consensus mode -- i.e., believers are saved by faith. But because they have embraced the doctrines of men, they fail to understand salvation within the reality of the journey of the soul. Yeshua warned that while many are called, only a very few are chosen. But to even begin to understand this reality, and the Mysteries of God, you will have to unloose you mind from the limitations of the doctrines of men, and open your mind to the inner Kingdom which is at hand.
Allan http://Ebionite.com"

My Response
Old Testament salvation came through faith just as New Testament salvation does. Paul wrote that the Law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, for through the law we learn of our inability to earn salvation through any merit of our own. Even the Jews, Paul wrote, find themselves condemned by God's perfect Law. The points of the Law concerning sacrifices provided a temporary covering for our sin, but only the sacrifice of God the Son can completely wash away our sin. If I understand Allan correctly... well, as the doctors say, the following may sting a little. Sorry, but it's necessary. Allan's logic makes more leaps than an equestrian in a steeplechase! He certainly has a way of splicing things together to make his points. For example, he extensively quotes the parable of the tares, which explains why Christ didn't judge the world and separate the believers from the unbelievers during His first coming. Allan, however, violently twists it into a lesson about fruitful living and rejecting the doctrines of men. As another example, he correctly cites that the Greek word translated "repent" means to change the mind, but then, without citing any authority, turns "change" into "open and unloose." Allan's biggest error concerns believing that the Kingdom of God lies within everyone. When Jesus said that, He referred to the nature of the Kingdom, not to it's location. The Kingdom cannot lie within those who are dead (Paul), who are children of the devil (Jesus), who live in rebellion against the righteousness of God. Allan demonstrates a rejection of God's holiness when he claims that he can find sufficient righteousness within himself; that is, when he links human works to salvation. God's gift is righteousness sufficient for salvation, not the ability to achieve enough righteousness to justify us. Christ purchased our justification -- the declaration of righteousness -- through His work on the cross. It is a price that we, the destitute, cannot pay. The Pharisees indeed needed to "open and unloose" their minds from the shackles of legalism, but ironically, so does Allan: The "doctrines of men" against which Allan argues were those rules the Jews made to ensure adherance to the Law -- that is, to ensure achievement of salvation by works. When refering to the "doctrines of men," Jesus was preaching grace, not works! In inadvertent hypocrisy, then, while condemning the "doctrines of men," Allan alligns himself with the very same error, legalism. Sophism is the practice of assembling arguments that sound convincing but actually have major faults. Allan is a sophist. He majors on the Gospels and perhaps on James, but seems completely ignorant of Johannine, Pauline, or Petrine doctrine. Such an emphasis on the bridge period between the Old Testament puzzle and its New Testament solution misleads many into an inordinate dependence on works and accompanying lack of dependence on God. Allan's words indicate that he has yet to receive the gift of God as just that -- a gift. While I do not judge him, he gives strong indication that he yet lies in the same condemnation into which we all are born. If my words are blunt, so be it; that's the only way I know how to communicate: openly, truthfully, and vividly. But my heart weighs heavily for Allan and for all who have yet to escape eternal error.

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