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118 Responses

  1. Paige says:

    Praying for you and Trey. Love you. God bless you.

  2. Neo says:

    I sometimes wonder if God simply chose one religion to send His Son into, through which a righteousness apart from religion might be accomplished. Not to diminish Judiasm, I’m intrigued by a Jesus apart from religion.

  3. Wade Burleson addresses the issues on sanctification, TGC and TT.

  4. There is something off kilter with these white, shaved headed bald guys – they are all bullies – CJ Mahaney – James MacDonald and now Tim Keller.

    So, the first sign when trying to avoid an abusive pastor .. no white guys with shaved heads.

  5. Dodger Dog says:

    I’ll be praying Michael…

  6. pstrmike says:

    I like Tulllian. He is one of very few well known pastors who have stepped out of the circle of the boys club, because the club is self-protecting and disingenuous. May others learn by his example and have the courage to not only disassociate from unethical practice, but to expose sin.

  7. Bob says:


    Interesting thought about a non-religious Jesus.

    Jesus was and is a Jew, lived, charged, died and rose according to the Jewish scriptures, but there is zero requirement to be a Jew for any sort of salvation He accomplished for man. I am one of the nations spoken of by the prophets, I come to Jesus not by religion jus by faith.

    I’m sold on the idea Jesus requires zero religion to believe and Follow Him.

    Thank you for writing!

  8. Muff Potter says:

    MLD @ # 5,
    They remind me of the Coneheads on old SNL way back in the day.

  9. Dave says:

    Neo your best righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight. By faith all of u s have to enter into the imputed righteousness of the finished work of Christ upon the cross.

    Our salvation is not of works lest any man should boast, it is the free gift of God.

    Religion is of man relationship is what God desires with all of us.

    Therefore you are right on in not wanting religion by implication…well done.

  10. brian says:

    I post my nonsense late at night, because basically I dont sleep, never have I agree I am an emotional wreck but can we agree on this

    This man needs to come home. We need to call out to our representatives, He needs to be home with his family.

  11. randallslack says:

    “There is something off kilter with these white, shaved headed bald guys – they are all bullies.”

    I shave my hear; am I a bully? I even like you MLD 🙂

  12. randallslack says:

    HEAD!!! Boy do I hate spell check!!!

  13. Put together a list of 12 free Christian classic kindle ebooks.

  14. Andrew says:

    I hope Mark Jones and Rick Phillips accept Chris Rosebrough to a debate.

    I really think its about time these reformed folks truly understand salvation by grace alone through faith alone. I used to sit under Rick Phillips preaching but not any more.

  15. Andrew – this is really a funny debate – the Reformed by nature still want to hold onto doing works for God (note I am not saying works for salvation) and the evangelicals are like deer caught in the headlights because they have no theological category for the distinction between Law and Gospel.

    Tullian has struck it right, but only Lutherans understand (and the guys from the White Horse Inn and Westminster Seminary west) Anyone else who agrees with Tullian is just doing so because he stuck it to TGC.

  16. J.U. says:

    The other day people were talking about the narrow gate. Both MLD and Xenia commented and maybe some others. That got me thinking. (That is rarely a good thing. 🙂 )

    I started thinking about herds and groupthink. I learned about the former growing up as a boy. I learned about the other in some books I read.

    Our American culture has such a herd mentality. And, sadly, it seems to be a herd of lemmings. And you know where they are headed. Remember the “beatniks”? We used to joke that they were all non-conformers, that’s why they all dressed alike, talked alike, and acted alike. Following the crowd in nonconformity.

    Today it’s tatoos and piercings. I sometimes wonder what will be next. Hair was short, then it was long, then it was short again (shaved heads). Ties grew narrow, then wide, then narrow again.

    In America where it is considered great not to follow the herd, but to be independent and sometimes outrageous, that’s just a myth. We’re all crowd followers. Think of all the discussions here on Phoenix Preacher that are really about following the crowd. We talk about celebrity preachers and mega churches.

    Of course, it isn’t the “following” that is the problem. It is who we follow. And who is among those followers? Does that boil down to about half the discussions here on this blog? I think so. Maybe more than half.

    As a rule of thumb, when everybody agrees about something, watch out! Think to yourself, “Can ALL those people really be right?”

    Jesus said:

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14

    I think Jesus was talking about how to find life, real life. He said, when it comes to life, the thundering herd has it wrong. It’s not happiness or money or a better job and house. It’s not thrills or music or fame or intoxication or even great achievement in your career.

    Boy was that true of me in my younger days. Fame and music did not satisfy me. Intoxication was actually a way I numbed the pain that those things could not cure.

    I tread a path that was packed hard with countless footprints of those who thought they would find life and happiness, but were disappointed. I followed them right through those broad gates. Those gates I went through resembled the bent and trampled doors of a Walmart on Black Friday. But the herd is wrong.

    So how do we find the “narrow gate?” Don’t go the other way. The “narrow gate” is not for the “narrow minded.” Narrow mindedness is another form of groupthink. That herd is wrong, too. The narrow gate Jesus referred to “leads to life” — abundant, full, rich and satisfying life. And He showed us how to find it.

    I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

  17. J.U.
    I saw a post somewhere asking “why is there only a stairway to heaven but a highway to hell?”

    Obviously more people are going to hell.

  18. J.U. says:

    MLD. That’s great. Now I can’t get AC/DC out of my head!

  19. Michael says:


    Please don’t talk about things you have a really limited understanding of to make yourself feel superior.
    If someone wants to know the historic position of the Swiss Reformers it can be read here.

    Those ripping through Tullian are not in line with Calvin or the early confessions.

  20. Michael says:

    “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””
    (Revelation 7:9–10 ESV)

    The narrow road gets a lot of traffic.
    Back out for the day.

  21. His Kid says:

    Hey all…have you written your letter to Pastor Saeed yet? Just a reminder because it is so important. Here is Naghmeh’s request and the address once again:

    Writing letters to Saeed in prison is a great way to let the Iranian government know that there are many who are concerned about him and it helps keep him alive and treated better at the prison. Here is the address to Rajaei Shahr prison. Please join me in writing letters to him. It should cost $1.10 for postage. You can share scripture and about Jesus as long as you are not attacking Islam or the Iranian government.

    Saeed Abedini

    Zendane Rajaee Shahr

    Bulvare Moazen

    Karaj, Iran

    God Bless

    Naghmeh Abedini

  22. Muff Potter says:

    RE: Dave @ # 10,
    Neo your best righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight.

    Isaiah 64:6 is one of he most abused and misused Scripture verses in the entire Canon. No act of kindness and compassion toward another human being is a ‘filthy rag’ in the eyes of the Almighty.

  23. erunner says:

    Good morning all. Got a question. I’ve been running into people talking about the fate of the USA because we are not mentioned directly in end times prophecy. Not looking for a take down of the pre-trib position so…..

    Let’s just say scripture is silent on the USA does there really have to be a reason why that we must speculate on? Can’t scripture be silent on this without it having to be that we are going to judged for our treatment of Israel or we get nuked? I have seen tons of speculation through the years with the thinking being we are such a great nation there must be a reason scripture is silent. Thanks for any responses.

  24. Michael says:

    The U.S. isn’t mentioned because that’s not the story the Bible is telling…and looking for it in Scripture is a good indication that you’re trying to rewrite the story it is telling.

  25. Dusty says:

    Prayong for you today big brother and for little brother

  26. erunner says:

    Michael, I’m trying to view this as if the pre trib position is true. Why couldn’t it be true without all of the “experts” having to explain why the USA isn’t mentioned? I’m wondering if maybe the importance many place on the USA is not a reflection of how God sees us. The idea of the USA being judged, etc. seems to generate a lot of unfounded fear.

  27. Muff Potter says:

    Good answer @ # 25 Michael. The Bible has been referred to by Paul as the Oracles of God, and in the meaning for the audience he was writing for, it did not denote a magic answer book or super-deterministic-blue-print to be ‘figured out’. N.T. Wright’s writings on Eschatology make much more sense than the ear-tickling claptrap from Tim LaHaye or Chuck Missler.

  28. Michael says:

    Thank you, Dusty…much needed and appreciated.

  29. Michael says:


    You’re dealing with the mixture of American exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and Scripture that I find completely unholy and unbiblical, but has captured much of American evangelicalism.
    Good luck with that…

  30. Dave says:

    Gee erunner, even this keyboard and computer I am currently on isn’t mentioned in my Bible much less the constant jets flying over my house…

    I like Michael’s statement about it not being the story that is being told.

    These things and more exist but are not the story.

    Hey Muff please explain about righteousness. Are you implying that I can measure up to God’s standards on my own righteousness and don’t need the imputed righteousness of Christ to please God?

    Can you clarify your position a little more so that I can understand you?

  31. erunner says:

    Michael, I had the idea although not in your words that a higher view of our nation is being expressed than what actual truth is through God’s eyes. Someone I know recently shared that the volcano beneath Yellowstone could go off and destroy our country thus explaining the USA and the end times. I’m at a loss as how to respond.

    Maybe there is someone who holds a pre trib position who might share on this topic.

  32. dave says:


    The Parallel Commentaries here support my statement that you believe is abused and misused:

    Therefore I truly am interested in your twist on this traditional position that I and many commentators hold.

  33. dave says:


    I hadn’t heard about the Yellowstone potential to destroy such a large land mass before. Can you provide a link or two on this interesting situation?

  34. Michael says:


    Remember that they are expecting the Rapture any day now and thus feel the need to write in where they happen to live.
    If the Rapture doesn’t happen for a couple hundred more years after the natural cycle of empires has taken it’s toll…then the question is really irrelevant,.

  35. erunner says:

    Muff and Dave, There are scores of people in my life who hold to these things as true. I think there comes a time when this fixation on the signs of the times becomes out of balance. Every time something major happens in the world it ties into the imminent return of Christ. I would like to speak to those things without damaging relationships. The fact of the matter is I’m not settled on any position at this point in my life.

  36. erunner says:


  37. Michael,
    Is this open mike comedy day here at the PP? I said that only the guys at the White Horse Inn and Westminster Seminary west ‘get it’ – you come on, challenge my intelligence and then to ‘prove’ you point post an article written by Scott Clark … one of the leading figures over at Westminster Seminary west. As Desi said to Lucy – “Michael, you have some splaining to do.

    But at least I do like your admission about Carl Trueman and Tim Keller being faux calvinists as they are currently leading the ripping and tearing.

  38. erunner says:

    Michael, in the 70’s and into the early 80’s my sharing the gospel boiled down to sharing the rapture. It’s something I regret in hindsight as nothing should replace the pure gospel message which I was guilty of.

    Yet even though the experts can’t even agree on their own position there is still the end times industry that is alive and well. People using the headlines to prove their points, etc.

    It’s not so much waiting for a few hundred years to pass by but the remainder of the lives left for those who have not prioritized correctly that concerns me. As each calamity doesn’t lead to the rapture sooner or later bad fruit will start falling from the trees. This concerns me.

  39. e,
    Become an amillennialist and you can cancel your subscription to the newspaper. 😉

  40. Xenia says:

    Salvation by works….

    If I am a deliberate atheist and I am also a very decent person who gives to charities and takes meals to my neighbor, etc….. these good works *might* be pleasing to God in a certain sense but they are not, by themselves, enough to grant admission to heaven. God might assign such a person to a cooler spot in Hell but they’ve still missed the salvation boat. Likewise, a Jew who keeps the Torah (not possible today but some try) but does not have faith in Christ, they have missed the boat as well. Likewise a devout Hindu or Muslim.

    Some, like the local Episcopal priest, says that Christ came to save everyone, even if they aren’t aware of His existence This is an appealing notion but does not hold up to close scrutiny w/o ditching a whole lot of Bible, which this man has done.

    People who say, as is common, “I don’t believe in Jesus or God but I am a good person” are mistaken if they expect this Jesus or God who they don’t believe in to let them into heaven. (Salvation is about more than admittance to heaven but often that what it boils down to in many conversations.)

    But as far as the Christian and good works are concerned, we are expected by God to do them. A refusal to do them might just exclude people from Heaven. By “refusal” I mean a complete refusal to live a moral Christian life and never repenting of one’s sins. Someone who shows zero love for God or his neighbor. (They will know we are Christians by our love.) Someone who went forward at a crusade or was baptized as a baby but never “acted” on their salvation. Such a person might claim to believe in Christ and refer back to an old experience but live as though they have no belief at all.. (I think this topic is discussed among Protestants under the heading “Lordship Salvation.”)

    I think we would all agree here that just signing a little card that says “I accepted Jesus as my Savior on such-and-such a date” is not a guarantee of salvation and we need to see some evidence in their lives. (And even then, we are not to be in the business of judging the state of someone else’s salvation, I am speaking in generalities here.)

    I believe that if we have genuine faith, we will do good works. I also believe that doing good works has the effect of increasing our faith. So in a way (a way that is outside Protestant theology, I admit) we *are* saved by good works but only because we grow closer to God and His salvation as we work with Him.

    If the purpose of salvation is to unite with God and to grow closer to HIm and not just a fire-escape from Hell, then the more we work with him (good works) the close to Him we become and the more like Him we become. The tired old phrase “They are working their way to heaven” completely misses the point. If you wanted to get to know someone, wouldn’t the best way be to do some work with them? Or is just reading about the person good enough?

  41. Michael says:


    The comedy is in your obfuscation, but I’m not amused.

    “the Reformed by nature still want to hold onto doing works for God (note I am not saying works for salvation) and the evangelicals are like deer caught in the headlights because they have no theological category for the distinction between Law and Gospel.”

    Scott’s article (though brief) refutes your assertion historically and any examination of Calvin and the early Reformed would show that over and over again.

    “Tullian has struck it right, but only Lutherans understand (and the guys from the White Horse Inn and Westminster Seminary west) Anyone else who agrees with Tullian is just doing so because he stuck it to TGC.”

    Tullian has struck it right because he is in line with the early Reformers and Scripture, not modern seminaries. So, obviously, it’s not only the Lutherans that got it right, but the historical Reformers and the early confessions they authored.

  42. I have noticed one thing. Every article see that criticizes Tullian seems like a parody of his position on sanctification.
    I tell you what, when those guys get ready to gang up on someone, they just pile on don’t they?

  43. Michael says:


    I only get concerned when they make the doctrine central to salvation or justification.
    Otherwise, it’s just an odd hobby to me and I ignore them

  44. Michael says:


    There has been way too much of that.
    If you actually read both camps they are saying pretty much the same things…just with a different emphasis on certain syllables.

  45. Michael says:


    Outside of the one clause that I obviously differ with you on, I think you make very good points.

  46. I think it is all an excuse for the SGM mess.
    Sad that Trueman, addressed the sanctification issue and wanted to talk about practical issues, but missed the point that at SGM failed at the issue he used as his foil.

  47. dave says:

    Allan thanks.

  48. Michael,
    ““the Reformed by nature still want to hold onto doing works for God (note I am not saying works for salvation)”

    so you are saying that the Reformed DO NOT want to do good works for God.

  49. Michael says:


    I have neither the time,nor desire to answer or engage your misrepresentations.
    The Reformed have both a clear distinction between law and Gospel and a desire to do good works for God and neighbor.

    “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
    (Matthew 25:40 ESV)

  50. Jim says:


    “Our responsibility, as we understand it, is to offer non-binding advice on the narrow question as to whether C.J. Mahaney is presently fit for ministry based on those sins to which he has already confessed.”

    “We do not believe C.J. Mahaney’s confessed sins have disqualified him from Christian ministry.”

    That Trueman would even participate in such a ridiculous panel speaks volumes.

  51. Ryan Ashton says:

    Please keep praying for me regarding friendships. Please also be praying for Davey Fox, one such friend of mine for whom God knows the situation.

    I need a lot of healing this summer, and if God doesn’t come through, next semester is going to be rougher than last.

  52. Muff Potter says:

    dave @ nos. 32 & 34,

    Thanks for your query and it’s a fair one. But in the interest of brevity and not starting another Crusade and Jihad here at PP, here’s the short answer:
    Shortly after the turn of the century I began my own investigative study Scripture, independent of commentaries and the claims made by others about the Bible. Suffice it to say that I no longer share the same conclusions as Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Calvin, Luther, and many of their present day variants.

    Although I can appreciate your convictions and those of the good folks at the link you posted, they are not mine and I stand on my original statement concerning kindness and compassion. Isaiah’s context was the apostasy of Judah and the corrupt machine of Temple worship, those were the ‘filthy rags’, not human goodness.

  53. Muff Potter says:

    should be: ‘study of Scripture’

  54. Dusty says:

    Ryan praying for you and Davy. May His peace. Be with you both

  55. Y’all should do like me.
    I put in a hot and humid day of mowing the lawn.
    Now I am just sitting here building a playlist on Youtube of good 80’s songs.

  56. Dusty says:

    Big brother you know i love and respect you but for someone sho is suppose to be enjoying the weekend you sure have been on here a lot today. 😉

  57. Xenia says:

    Michael @ 47, the difference is synergism vs monergism, which we believe applies to all aspects of salvation, not just sanctification.

    The EO view is so simple: just go out and do good things with God. Good works are good.

  58. Xenia says:

    Muff Potter,

    Isaiah’s context was the apostasy of Judah and the corrupt machine of Temple worship, those were the ‘filthy rags’, not human goodness.<<<<

    I agree. There is a desire in some sectors of Christianity to make humans out to be so incredibly bad that it's unbelievable, especially when someone preaches a whole sermon on what a "filthy rag" refers to. I just can't look at my fellow humans this way. When even an unbeliever does something good…. it's good! Maybe not salfivic but still good if people benefit from it. Why make ourselves feel superior by sneering at their good works and calling them filthy rags? I'd rather live next to a nice atheist than a nasty one. What is it that makes us want to cast dispersions on other people's good works when we ourselves hardly do any? <— I think I answered my own question.

    Again, without faith in Christ, no one goes to heaven ('cept babies and the like) but to call a kind deed done by an unbelieving person a filthy rag…. no thanks. This is part of the school of thought that views God as a wrathful, raging deity who hates us and everything about us. Again, no thanks.

  59. Xenia,
    “The EO view is so simple: just go out and do good things with God. Good works are good.”

    Do you know anyone who claims to be a Christian and refuses to do any good works??? I mean not even feed the family poodle when it’s hungry?

  60. Headed up to Santa Barbara for the 8pm Stephen Stills concert!
    Tuning my guitar to EBEEBe

  61. If anyone on here likes music from the 80’s here is the playlist I made today.

  62. Xenia says:

    MLD, I know plenty of people who disparage other people’s good works, claiming they are “working their way to heaven.”

    I once was part of a CC women’s ministry leadership circle that object to my proposals because they sounded too much like we’d be working our way to heaven.

    I know that at our local Meals on Wheels I see no (zero) volunteers from my old CC days or anyone from my old evangelical world.

    I know plenty of people who can’t do a simple “good work” without coming up with a complicated explanation why it’s ok and not Catholicky.

    I know plenty of people who claim to be Christians who do no good works at all and have a theology to explain that away, too.

    So to answer your question….. yes.

  63. Xenia says:

    On the other hand, I know plenty of evangelicals who abound in good works because they are Christians and they obey the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit often over rides a brain-full of bad theology.

  64. Xenia,
    I think you may define good works too tightly.

    So, your old CC lady friends – they didn’t raise their kids? Didn’t feed them , change their diapers, clean the house, work with the PTA? These friends didn’t follow the local town laws or refrain from speeding up and down main street?

    Did any of them go to a job outside the home? Did these ladies refuse to be good employees or to treat customers in a fair manner. An what about my big one – taking care of the family poodle?

    Which of the above, had to be explained away for fear of being too ‘Catholicky.’

  65. I just had this thought on my above comment. I wonder how many of the ladies, after berating good works, said “I have to leave early today to take my daughter to the dentist.” (good work)

  66. Xenia says:


    When the Lord separates the sheep from the goats at the end of the age, one of the questions isn’t “Did you bathe your poodle!” Because, as He noted elsewhere, even the unbelievers do this much.

  67. Muff Potter says:

    Let us know how the concert went G-man! I knew back in 67′ that Stills was an artist extraordinaire when I first heard his guitar solo on Bluebird.

  68. Xenia says:

    But MLD, I will agree with you that living a decent life of working hard, taking good care of your kids, mowing your lawn, being honest in your dealings with others, etc. is a type of good work.

  69. Xenia says:

    To anticipate “How do you know when you’ve worked hard enough?” and similar questions, “working for God” does not involve an accounting ledger. This is the mistake the RCC made, turning everything into an elaborating accounting system. As people like to say- and it’s really true- it’s all about relationship with God. It’s not “If I feed 12 people today I am 12 steps close to heaven.” Instead, it’s “The Lord and I fed 12 people today and I grew much closer to Him in the process.”

    It’s participation, cooperating with God. The results may not even matter too much, at least as far as we can see them from our vantage point.

    Good works are all kinds of things. I am about to leave for All-Night Vigil (only lasts two hours, not all night.) It’s a good work for sure but God’s not marking an X on my chart. Rather, it’s an opportunity to worship Him and learn about Him.

    Best not to overthink “good works,” which I think I have done here anyway.

  70. Bob says:

    I guess I don’t get why people turn Matt 25 and the sheep/goats into a teaching about good works.

    To me the heart of the teaching are two things:

    1. Both the sheep and the goats didn’t know what they had or hadn’t done. So conscious effort to work probably isn’t the main issues there.

    2. By feeding, clothing and visiting the sheep were demonstrating their love for Jesus.

    So Is Jesus looking for His people to demonstrate their love for Him by doing good works; kind of a sacrifice to please Him? Or do people just do good works because they somehow love others and are doing for the receiver’s sake?

    Another way of saying it is this; Do people feed, clothe and visit to gain points with God because they heard a preaching from Matthew 25?

    Ok my worthless comment over.

  71. The sheep did not only not know that they had done any good works, but when described to them they still did not know that they had done them.

    My point above and here – the humdrum life we live taking care of our daily business is the good work God is looking for – the diaper needs changing, the dishes need washing or even the poodle needs feeding or bathing… this is the good work.

    Others have divided the day to day ‘chores; from – “what is your ministry?” or “what have you done for God lately?” —

    My theological term for the day – Hogwash.

  72. Xenia,
    ““…did you bathe your poodle!” Because, as He noted elsewhere, even the unbelievers do this much.”
    Well even the unbelievers work the Meals on Wheels – so is that now a NON good work?

    When you said “…taking good care of your kids, mowing your lawn, being honest in your dealings with others, etc. is a type of good work.”
    Why did you use the qualifier “type”? Why can’t it be listed simply as “good work”?

  73. Xenia says:

    MLD, I think we might be agreeing on this. I don’t have a good explanation why I would call washing the poodle a type of good works.

  74. sisterchristian says:

    ” but do not forget to do good
    And to share, for with such sacrifices
    God is well pleased” Heb 14: 16

    Doesn’t sound like God looks at our good deeds as filthy rags here…
    Rather when we do so
    God is well pleased

    Not sure what others are thinking on this
    But it seems pretty incredible to think of God being well pleased by our actions… And not lookin upon our efforts as ” filthy rags. ( thank you Xenia for your comments on the topic)

    So could someone kindly explain to me -again as I think it has been explained- what the filthy rags comment is actually dealing with?

    moreover, the author of Hebrews in a final benediction/ exhortation expresses a prayer
    May the God of peace …
    … Make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight.” Rom 13:20-21

  75. sisterchristian says:

    Here is one biblical description of some
    good works:
    • brought up children
    • lodged strangers
    • washed the saints feet
    •relieved the afflicted
    1 Tim 5:10

  76. pstrmike says:

    Isaiah’s reference of filthy rags is about our righteousness apart from Christ, not good works. Good works proceed from the faith of a righteous heart, and in that, God is well pleased.

  77. Anon says:

    Steven Stills is a sore loser. My wife beat him in a game of pool on Maui in the 80’s and he did not take it well at all. Lol!

  78. sisterchristian says:

    Pstr mike

    That is the general teaching which I have heard over the years ,..

    However, Xenias description above does seem to fit the context of that scripture passage better.

    Isaiah is describing the general state of the Jews at that time in Israel … Making a blanket statement of the rebelliousness of the Jews at that time…

    Directly above in verse 5 of ch 64
    The prophet declares that God meets the one who rejoices and does righteousness.

    There were righteous people at that time and throughout in the OT… Abraham Noah Job etc…

    There are those who are righteous today

    Another interesting passage is in Acts 10: 34-35
    which Peter proclaims
    “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality,..

    But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him”

    He goes on to say;
    The word of God was sent – preaching peace through Jesus Christ… That through His name whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins”

    I guess where I get perplexed is the position that some hold of speaking regarding people who are good and decent, noble and righteous people…
    With the approach that God sees all their deeds or righteousness as ” filthy rags” … Which I don’t see supported in scripture ..

    What I’m reading in scripture is that God is pleased with good deeds ., righteous behavior …
    However even righteous people sin
    All have sinned… And fall a short
    And through Belief in Christ and only in Him are we perfect and complete
    Clothed appropriately to attend the wedding feast that awaits us … Among other things to say the least

  79. sisterchristian says:


    Let me back up…

    First of all, thank you for your response… It’s appreciated

    Do you think there is a difference between acceptance and justification?

    For I read in one passage that God accepts those in every nation who fear Him ( would that be faith? – I’m supposing it would)

    And then there is the passage
    ” the just shall live by faith”

    ” without faith it is impossible to please God”

    Just thinking some things out loud
    And do appreciate yours and others reflecting thought on any of this

  80. pstrmike says:

    Now that I’ve had some sleep, I think I misread your #77, so I may have been attempting to answer something you weren’t asking Works based on faith are a means of communion with God and are the expression of godly virtue. They are a natural expression of our faith. Where it gets complex is when people who do not know God act in accordance with godly virtue, which in my mind, is entirely possible based on experience, although I haven’t thought that ideal through enough beyond offering the explanation to be that of common grace. That is to say, we don’t always know what we see with our eyes.

    The fear/faith correlation is something that gives us much to think about as well. Being that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (wisdom being one of the four cardinal virtues), I see this as an expression of submission to God, which really requires an element of faith.

    Speaking of works, its time for me to go. Wish I could add more. I’ll check back later. blessings.

  81. Bob says:

    I believe the danger is to associate righteous behavior of men with the righteousness of God.

    The quote from Isaiah has been beat into the pagan minds of Christians (at least my pagan mind) over the centuries, yet throughout the scriptures there men who are spoken of as been righteous and many of whom aren’t directly tied to Israel or the promise. How can that be?

    Sister Christian correctly points out, and I believe if a careful examination of the biblical characters is done, the Timothy quote described how God’s creation live in righteous behavior.

    Jesus described what righteous living is through the famous “sermon on the mount” starting in Matthew Chapter 5. But we pagan minded (ok just me) believers in Jesus can’t separate (it’s that rightly dividing thing again) works from faith, we (I struggle with) keep thinking that by “pleasing God” through works that some how we will gain favor and therefore rewards through Him.

    Even the disciples and some of their parents discussed such issues. Remember when the discussion came to who would sit next to Jesus and in what position?

    Basically to me and my pagan mind; I fight with the duality of getting by doing rather than giving so that others will get. Paul said his crown was seeing those who heard his words in the Kingdom and he gave his all to so that others would hear.

    Oh well have a blessed new week in Jesus, because of His giving and submission (righteousness) creation can now rest in God’s garden.

  82. Linda Pappas says:

    Quoting pstrrMike @ 79 and adding my own thoughts about this:

    It always gets me when people quote scripture, but stop short of the whole point being made. A good example would be Proverbs Ch 3:5-8. Verse 5-6 will be used as if it stands alone apart from 7-8, yet if it was added, we would be then know that in order to maintain our stance in 5-6, it is necessary to depart from doing that which is not of the Lord.

    Likewise, I think:

    Filthy Rags

    Many confused the 2 types of works that has caused much confusion and division in the Christian community. One is of the flesh and the other is of the Spirit. At the same time, “Works” are frowned upon due to confusing it with “earning” our way to heaven with that of being a manifestation of being saved and having our heart changed and receiving the Holy Spirit. Too many cry out “legalism” not understanding these differences, thus many think they are saved, but are not. As usual, part of scripture is quoted. When this takes place, the gospel changes. For instance:

    Ephesians Ch. 2:8-10

    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Verse 10 is rarely attached to verse 8 and 9, yet we are told that for those who believes by faith will be able to to the good works which God has ordained that we should walk in there.

    Isaiah’s reference of filthy rags is about our righteousness apart from Christ, not good works. Good works proceed from the faith of a righteous heart, and in that, God is well pleased. See Hebrews speaking of the Abraham and Rahab. Then hop over to Romans where Paul speaks of the law and grace while speaking of Abraham’s righteousness evidenced by his faith and obedience to God.

    And finally, go to James 2, beginning in verse 14, when he tells us that without works, our faith is dead.

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

    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

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

    25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

    26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    It’s my opinion that unless one is saved, it is impossible to do “good works” and much more if they are saved, they cannot but do “good works.”

  83. Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter – let’s continue with our Easter liturgy. 🙂

  84. Linda Pappas says:

    I can’t remember where it this is in the first four books of the N.T. and thought someone else might know.

    It has to do with either some disciples or apostles coming to Jesus wanting a pat of the back for doing something good and Jesus response was essentially that being of exhortation by posing a redundant question to them, that is, why did they expect an” atta boy” when what they were doing was what they were supposed to be doing unto the Father.

    Does anyone know where in scripture this can be found?

  85. sisterchristian says:


    Are you speaking o the verse in Luke 10:17-20 :
    The disciples came back rejoicing saying…” Even the demons are subject to us in Your name”
    Jesus explained he gave them authority over all the power of the enemy,,.. ( that’s pretty powerful!)
    Yet, that they shouldn’t rejoice in that but rather rejoice because their names are written in heaven,..

    Is that the one you were thinking of ?

    But as to the statement of
    Unless one is saved it is impossible to do good works,..
    That’s where I get hung up…

    Plenty o unsaved people do good works…

  86. Michael says:

    Unsaved people do good works.
    The category difference is that those works do not affect their salvific status until mixed with faith in Christ.
    I don’t have time to really get into this discussion, but I think it’s valuable and necessary.
    My studies over the last couple of years point out to me that Protestants tend to radically devalue the place of works in the Christian life in order to protect sola gracia and avoid the errors of Catholicism.
    The Bible knows nothing of a true faith divorced from works.

  87. Ricky Bobby says:

    All Groups exhibit the “fruits of the spirit” as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. I can find friends in nearly every religious/philosophical Group who are generally “good” folks who exhibit the “fruits” above in spades.

    These folks are also “loving their neighbor” in general…and they do “good works” often.

    Conversely, many Christians* I know can be some of the most evil people on the planet.

  88. Ricky Bobby says:

    The whole “good tree” vs. “bad tree” dichotomy doesn’t work, not in real life.

    Most folks are generally “good”…and all folks are capable of doing “bad” and many are capable of great evil…even the Christians*…and this is hard fact as evidence over and over and over so as to not even be open for discussion b/c it is so proven by example after example after example.

  89. Ricky Bobby says:

    The fact seems to be…if there’s truth to the bible…that you are both a good and bad tree…and the bad stuff gets burned up in the next and the good stuff lives on after the metaphorical ‘fire’ etc.

    If you are all bad…then I guess you might go “poof”

    …that’s at least as plausible an opinion from “the bible” as any. It certainly fits within one core bible narrative.

  90. Linda Pappas says:

    I think we need to define, “good works.” Paul tells us that good works are those that are done as a result of having been born again and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I take this to mean that for those who are in Christ, it is because of Him that we honor Him by loving others as He has loved us.

    People outside of being in Christ are known to do great and wonderful things towards their fellow person for various reasons. Not only this, God uses the ungodly and the godly to accomplish what it is He deems to be accomplished, be it to do good to another, or be it to bring sorrow, grief, or even to bring catastrophe about. These works can be of the Lord, but for those not in the Lord, it is not done due to one’s faith, it is due to some other agenda.

    For instance, why do we love? Is it to get something back. Is it to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. Is it because someone loves us. Is it because of what the person looks like, does, or is able to for us or has done for us. Are any of these things the same love that God love is about. No, they are not—and this is why we cannot do the work of the spirit unless we are in the spirit.

    This why Abraham was able to exercise his faith by taking Isaiah to be sacrifice and this is why Rahab was able to hang the scarlet thread to help Joshua and his men, and this why Mary’s faith prepared her to carry her Savior in spite of what was to come in the way of those who thought she had lost it, even Joseph whom she was betrothed.

    People who has the witness of Christ, by the Holy Spirit within their hearts do good works, the works of the Lord, because the faith they have is that which exceeds anything else that would convince them to do (or not to do) for any other reason. The love that the Lord placed in their hearts and poured out through the cross is reason enough for them.

    The more one walks in faith and obedience, the more one thoughts and feelings become more like Him. Faith is tried and persecution sets in as we become more and more aliens or stranger those who do not, yet we count all joy knowing it is Him who we seek to please, to emulate, and to run the race to hear: Well done, good and faithful servant.

  91. Hannah says:

    RB “Most folks are generally “good”…and all folks are capable of doing “bad” and many are capable of great evil…even the Christians*…and this is hard fact as evidence over and over and over so as to not even be open for discussion b/c it is so proven by example after example after example.”

    The difference, IMO, is that the Christians, hopefully are convicted by the Holy Spirit for their “bad” and they call on God to help them conquer their “bad” (aka sin-which the non-believer doesn’t believe they have), and depend on Him for their “good”, and take no credit for it.
    The enemy convinces the non-believer that they have no “bad” and that their “good” is completely by their own efforts.

  92. Linda Pappas says:


    No, that’s not the verse, but I totally appreciate you trying to find it.

    Beside what I have just shared on defining “good works,” I would add that we tend to place our definition on things that are not what God intended it to be. Paul spent a lot of time in explaining what that the “Works” done in the Spirit were vs. “works” done by one’s own flesh or hidden purpose/agenda.

    Jesus shared with us the differences were as well, when he taught the parables speaking on sheep and goats, and/or the wheat and tares. Bottom line, it had to do with heart being changed and align with the Holy Spirit which our faith in Jesus, as our Savior and our Lord. From this, whatever works or Works that we do will bare evidence to if we are or we are not. Some people their works or Works will be easily or more readily discernable, yet others we will not know until the Day of the Lord.

    At the same time, for those who have never heard of Jesus or the gospel, God knows their hearts and what manner He has manifested Himself to them. These, who took into their heart the mindset that He is. the I Am, are the ones I am waiting to hear and speak to in the witness they will share on that day the Lord welcomes them into His Kingdom.

  93. Hannah says:

    Linda- Do you mean when the disciples saw someone driving out a demon in Jesus’ name and they tried to prevent him because he was not one of the disciples? (not “one of us”)

  94. Hannah says:

    Luke 9:49

  95. Linda Pappas says:

    No, that’s not it either.

  96. sisterchristian says:

    Linda ~

    Could you give the reference verses to Paul contrast of works of the flesh and works o the spirit ?

    In Galatians there is a differentiation
    The works of the flesh are evident
    Which are
    Adultery, fornication,uncleaness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery , hatred, contentions, selfish ambition, .. Envy… Drunkeness,,. Revelries and the like…

    It’s clearly defined … No similarities to good works here…

    The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control …

    Now what it seems Paul is speaking of in Romans … Those who walk in the spirit … There is no condemnation
    Those who walk on the spirit through Christ are free from the law of sin and death
    Those who walk in the spirit ( who do not walk according to the flesh) who are in Christ:
    The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit .

    So I don’t see evidence within this context of spirit/ flesh comparing to good deeds/ bad deeds

    The goat/ sheep example Jesus gives
    The sheep were attentive
    The goats were neglectful
    That’s “good/bad” contrast

    What I’m wrestling with is the way some Protestants/ evangelicals wrap a blanket around “good works” being bad…
    And that unsaved people are incapable of doing good works or deeds?
    Where is there evidence to support that Anywhere in scripture?

    It seems a more biblically realistic truth to say :

    there are good moral decent people… And it is good to do good, to be noble, honorable, faithful, to fear God etc…. However that does not enable a person to fulfill the righteous requirement, it does not justify and sanctify a person, it does not bring one into the adoption as a child of God,., it does not deal with the issue of sin.

    those requirements are only fulfilled to those who are in Jesus Christ..,

    For He alone makes atonement for sin, who cleanses us from all our sin and washes us white as snow

    I just see the way we see good deeds and explain it is pivotal and crucial to the way we present the gospel

  97. sisterchristian says:

    Pstr Mike

    I was running on fumes last night and likely wasn’t framing my discussion question very well..
    Little more refreshed today myself
    And do appreciate the time you took to further develope those thoughts on the points and I woul agree.. Also with;

    Michael ,
    Thank you for your earlier post to which I would heartily agree

  98. Xenia says:

    Maybe the elusive verse is Matthew 5:47

    And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

  99. sisterchristian says:

    MLD ~

    Washing the poodle would probably fit as a good deed… But teaching the kids to wash the family beagle is probably a better one

  100. Linda Pappas says:

    Paul begins to teach on this in Romans. No one specific verse but the concept of comparing “works” of the flesh vs. the “Works” of the spirit of can be found everywhere. For instance:

    Roman 8: 1-14

    But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

    13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

    14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    As Paul writes his letters he consistently tells us what is and is not of the Spirit and what is found among those who are in the flesh. Before all of this, he begins in Roman 1, then 2 to teach us about how we, as humans perceived and misused the law and how the law revealed to us that we were sinners, yet also how God used the law to show us our sin while also a way to free us from being under the condemnation of the law, not doing away with it, but to be freed from the blindness, rebellion, and hard-hard-heartedness, of our own hearts (flesh) that was in the way that kept us from knowing and walking in obedience to Him.

    Now being in Christ, the law is no longer a stumbling block, but rather Jesus can be for those who will not surrender their hearts to Him. But for those who will, the person is set free from the law that condemns them and are given the Holy Spirit in its place to convict, to teach, and to equip them and enable them to manifest the Works as one who is in Christ, no longer bound by the law (fleshly works) to earn, but are now set free to do Works, not to earn or because we have to, but because we want to, for the love that now dwells within us.

    See Comment 85.

  101. Linda Pappas says:

    The sheep hears His voice and follows after Him. Not so, with the goats, they do what they do for their own glory and gain (fleshly motives). Has nothing to do with bad and good, but rather who is or is not in Christ. The works that they do are not done unto Him, but unto themselves. Wrong motives base on fleshly desires.

  102. Hannah says:


    I have a Jewish sister in law that is the nicest person you would ever want to meet. She has many, many friends. She volunteers for her synagogue and serves many people. She rejects the gospel and depends on her good deeds to be in right relationship with God, but that does not mean she is not sincere in doing good. Her goodness of course is in the power of her self, but she still is a kind hearted person who does a lot of good for many people.
    If I compared her to myself, I would fall short,

  103. sisterchristian says:


    Thanks for the dialogue
    For clarification, it seems to me… you and I are speaking regarding two seperate issues …
    I agree with what you are sharing regarding
    Good deeds …. Even the best efforts of a human
    Will not pave the way for entrance into Gods kingdom
    Only those who live by faith, in Christ, born again by the spirit of God …

    However.. (Here is where we may not be in agreement)
    This does not mean that unbelievers are incapable of doing good…of being kind… Honorable .. Faithful etc

    Xenia gave one good example above – from Jesus
    When he stated
    ” For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
    And again
    ” if you greet your brethren only what do you do more than others?” Do not even the tax cle gods do the same,..

    Obviously unbelievers are capable of love, a good deed loving those who show/ express love towards them… Love is from God
    A fruit of the spirit, and perhaps – well I’m thinking this is what Pstr Mike is referring to above when he speaks of common grace ..

  104. sisterchristian says:

    in line to Hanna’s example above,

    I read a book of an american woman who was responsible for rescuing many asian orphans- hundreds to the best of my recollection- who didn’t make reference to Christ or being a Christian… she took on what James called pure and undefiled religion before God…

    And something I recall echoing in my thoughts at the time-
    If this woman is capable of doing such good deeds apart from Christ, not claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit-
    How much more should I/we as Spirit filled believers be capable of…

    In that light Hanna’s final comment resonates loudly within me.,
    If I compare her to me, I would fall short”

  105. sisterchristian says:

    Taking further from Hanna’s example of her sister in law

    And applying what I’m perplexed with

    Some would say that all this woman’s good deeds are as filthy rags ( and from my understanding would be misapplying/ misquoting scripture) to God and she needs to be saved

    But wouldn’t this Approach be more accurate?
    And I’m genuinely asking. Xx
    While she does many good deeds, those good deeds will not make Atonement for the sin, will not justify her in the sight of God… Will not satisfy the requirements of the law
    For all the good she does., it will not bring her into the kingdom of heaven or into the adoption o the beloved
    Only faith in Christ , and being born again through the spirit o God washes away sin and not perish, but have everlasting life

  106. Michael says:


    I wish I had time to respond more, but this article says it better than I would anyway.

  107. Muff Potter says:

    sisterchristian @ # 108,
    What does your conscience tell you? Play God for a moment and ask your own internal moral compass if you’d welcome her home or cast her into hell.

  108. Linda Pappas says:

    Excellent article, Michael.

  109. sisterchristian says:


    Thank you so much for that article!

    Lets see if I’ve captured the essence
    ~If so; it has resolved my quandary~

    All of humanity has been given a measure of Gods common grace
    Unbelievers, good, bad even evil
    Can do good deeds…. And walk in some measure of common grace some do more ; some do less…

    He provides this common grace perhaps in part – so that society is able to exist… For without His common grace.( maybe Like in the last days when He removes Holy Spirit from the earth..,, it will be pure evil and ” hell on earth”

    SO~ even if some people walk in good deeds.,and some people do many many good deeds…it is that they may only be walking in a common grace …

    Yet if they deny the source of common grace and take credit for it for themselves… And in doing so…with it also deny the sacrifice and gift given through Jesus Christ ;
    for the atonement for the sin that is in them/ in each person.. And deny the gift that is found by being born again of the spirit of God through Jesus Christ unto eternal life …
    They are not saved …

    So finally it comes down to …
    Even those who walked in a common grace of God
    And did good deeds
    Yet deny the source and giver of life and deny the redemption that is only found in Christ…
    They will not inherit the kingdom of God…

    Am I getting it right?
    🙂 or 🙁

  110. Last night I read this bit of commentary on the parable of the wedding feast from Matthew 22:1-14:

    The legalist expects to attend the wedding feast dressed in his personal best. He would be astounded to find his earthly lessers there, dressed much finer than he. As it turns out, the garb of the self-righteous is pretty ragged anyway (Isa, 64:6).
    ~Jared Wilson, The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. ~Gal. 3:27

  111. Hannah says:

    From Michaels article:

    While God hasn’t granted the unregenerate the transformational power of Christ in terms of His indwelling Spirit, God has given him the gift of time, opportunity, wisdom, discipline and meaningful choice and the common grace to make the good choice and even stick with it.

    And hopefully, the Spirit of God is working inside them to turn their hearts to Jesus Christ as the source of their good works.
    I pray that for my sister in law.
    She went to synagogue every day for one year after the deaths of her parents (3 years apart).
    She believes (and her religion tells her) that because they have died, they are not able to do good deeds in this world, so by her prayers for them, and the deeds she does, she will accomplish that for them. She is tormented by not knowing where they are and has recently told me that she keeps asking for a “sign”. After 18 years I can’t discuss Jesus with her. I know that the Jews have always asked for signs and I pray that the Lord gives her a sign, and that one day her eyes will be opened to see her Messiah.

  112. Bob says:


    “I know that the Jews have always asked for signs and I pray that the Lord gives her a sign”

    I don’t think such a thing is exclusive to Jews. I too many people who want a sign that their lives actually mean something and that their works count.

    I believe it’s common and well hidden idea in everyone’s mind, do I count!

  113. Linda Pappas says:

    Well, I’ll be: that scripture I was looking for dropped right onto my laptop via another person providing an article that I hadn’t even requested.

    It is: In Luke Chapter 17:9-10 we read:

    Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

    Unprofitable servant is not the same as the unprofitable servant referred to the talents. Attached article:

  114. sisterchristian says:

    Hi Linda~

    Originally you asked for a scripture where a disciple was lookin for ” a pat on the back” for good deeds.,,

    The one you post above was in response to the apostles asking Jesus to ” increase our faith” …

    This is a rather interesting passage in comparison to the common passage many o us use., you even referred to it above…
    That it is him we seek to please.,
    To run the race and hear him say
    Good and faithful servant
    Well done

    However, the article you posted above about this particular unprofitable servant in Luke 17:5
    – unless I’m reading it wrong-
    Is stating we should not be looking for that ” pat on the back” from Jesus
    Of : well done good and faithful servant, — but that we could never be profitable servants … But just unprofitable ones

    Any further clarification would be helpful

  115. sisterchristian says:

    Also… In reading through that particular passage ( luke17:5-10)
    And re- reading it.,

    I’m left wondering: How is Jesus’ response designed to answer their request for Him to “increase their faith” ?

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