The New Covenant writings CONTAIN specific requirements
and expectations of our God, few in quantity, that are essential
for both fellowship and salvation.
In the second half of this debate with Darrell Broking I shall seek to restore a sense of sanity to this inquiry into the nature of our Father's expectations for humanity, especially with respect to what He Himself regards as essential to our ultimate salvation and our fellowship with our fellow disciples here on earth. Needless to say, as has already been amply demonstrated, there are countless human assumptions made regarding this matter. Christendom is fragmented into thousands of feuding factions, each claiming to have perfectly perceived what constitutes that elusive "pattern" pertaining to eternal salvation and the fellowship of the saints. Frankly, not a single one of them has a monopoly on Truth, and the universal One Body of our Lord Jesus Christ upon earth is most assuredly not to be found exclusively in any of them. Clearly, one of the most absurd assertions to come out of this sea of fratricidal factionalism is the fallacy that every single word of the 27 New Covenant documents IS that pattern in all its fullness. Thus, every single word provides some divine patternistic principle or guideline that mankind MUST follow precisely in order to have fellowship with other believers and to ultimately be eternally saved. Paul's large handwriting is a "salvation issue." Sailing around an island because the winds were contrary is a "salvation issue." Yes, according to Darrell Broking, every single word has a direct impact upon our salvation and our fellowship.
Such a theory forces those persons who embrace it to spend their lives scrupulously scrutinizing each and every word, phrase and sentence in these 27 documents, searching feverishly for every single law they can possibly perceive hidden away therein to then bind upon all of humanity, for to miss even one is to risk being cast headlong into the raging fires of hell. Therefore, they search Scripture for law, and in the process they fail to perceive the Lord; they look for regulation, and miss the Redeemer. This delusion and deception is of the devil, and it has been going on for a very long time. It is one of Satan's most effective and deadly seductions. Jesus Christ rebuked the legalistic patternists of His own day with these words: "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; yet it is these that bear witness of ME; and you are unwilling to come to ME that you may have life" [John 5:39-40]. What our Lord was saying is: Life is in a Person, not in a legalistic pattern. In other words, the Scriptures reveal a Truth that saves, but the Scriptures themselves (every single word of them) are not that saving truth. They are revelatory, not regulatory.
Darrell Broking and I are fully agreed that the original writings of the inspired authors are "God-breathed" [2 Tim. 3:16]. We may differ somewhat on how the Holy Spirit of God utilized these men and their individual talents to pen and preserve these documents, and we may differ on whether each word was "dictated" to them, or whether these men were Spirit-led as they collected the information from various sources, but there is no doubt in either of our minds that the final product was "of God" rather than "of men." Clearly, at least to the vast majority of biblical scholars, as well as to enlightened disciples of Christ, the vast majority of the inspired writings, both of the New Covenant as well as the Old, were never intended to be regulatory in nature. They are not penned in the form of commands; they are not moral or spiritual imperatives divinely designed to serve as "patterns" for our daily lives. They have nothing whatsoever to do with our fellowship with one another in Christ Jesus, nor with our eternal salvation. Indeed, much of what we discover within these sacred writings is simply narrative. Are these narratives important to us today? Yes, they are, as they provide historical and personal background regarding persons and events central to God's dealings with mankind.
The narrative material detailing ship movements, weather conditions and personal illnesses as Paul traveled on his journeys, for example, is very interesting reading, but they have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation, nor with the fellowship of the saints. However, these details do serve to personalize the life and work of the apostle Paul. They serve to bring him to life in our hearts and minds. They are no more salvific, though, than what color shirt he had on during the journey or whether he brushed his teeth that morning. Such details may be enlightening, but knowledge of them (or even perfect understanding of them) has no bearing on our standing with the Father or with one another. Yet, if Darrell Broking's premise is to be embraced, then each of these narrative details is absolutely essential to both our standing with the Father and one another, and somehow they are to be viewed as binding patterns of attitudes and actions for all men today. If Darrell is right, then he needs to show us exactly how ship movements and weather conditions 2000 years ago on the opposite side of the planet, and how font size and requests for books and cloaks, constitute binding patterns for all men on this planet until the second coming. He has thus far failed to do that ... and I can guarantee you that he will never be able to provide the connection. It simply isn't there, and it is an absurdity to even suggest that it is! To be perfectly honest with you, I'm personally convinced that Darrell and most of his fellow legalists know that their premise is false, but pride prevents them from ever conceding this fallacy to such a one as Al Maxey. They would rather die. Which simply lends practical support to the proverb -- "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling" [Prov. 16:18]. They dug a huge hole for themselves (with the first proposition Darrell thoughtlessly composed for this debate, and which he himself denied just a matter of weeks ago) and then they jumped right in. Now they don't have a clue how to get out gracefully, so they just stand there red-faced in that hole denying that they are in one. All of which only succeeds in making them look even more foolish. And their followers are watching -- which is good news for those of us seeking simply to reach these religious captives with the Truth.
The essentials of our God, especially with respect to our individual salvation, are rather few in number. They are also not difficult to comprehend. Even a child can grasp them. God did not hide a host of rules and regulations within His inspired writings (few of which were stated clearly ... if at all), expecting mere fallible men to scrupulously search them out one by one by reading between the lines of the text and then inferring law from silence. What our God considered essential for our spiritual well-being, both temporally and eternally, is stated rather simply and with great clarity within the Scriptures. Men are not left to guess, deduce, assume or infer them. This was even true to a very large degree under the stipulations of the Old Covenant (although it is clearly far more so under the New Covenant). For example, note the requirements of our God in the following passage: "With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present unto Him my first-born for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" [Micah 6:6-8]. Even under a system of law, it was the heart that our God truly sought, with the latter always trumping the former! There are many other OT passages that could be provided that illustrate and substantiate this doctrine.
In the New Covenant writings this principle is stated clearly in a number of locations, both before and after the cross. On one occasion, a lawyer approached Jesus Christ and asked Him, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" [Matt. 22:36]. Our Lord didn't even hesitate. He replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" [vs. 37-40]. It doesn't get much simpler than that, now does it? It all comes down to a daily demonstration of LOVE to both God and one's fellow man. And please remember: this injunction came from one who was still living under a system of law. There were a great many laws governing all manner of daily activities, both secular and spiritual. And yet, Jesus sums them all up in a word -- LOVE. So does the apostle Paul on the other side of the cross. "He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law" [Rom. 13:8-10]. Paul makes it clear that ALL law, regardless of what it might be, can be easily summed up in one's displayed love for God and one's fellow man. Love IS the fulfillment of law. Period.
Jesus specified love as the distinguishing mark of genuine discipleship. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" [John 13:35]. It was thus THE qualifying characteristic of the New Covenant disciple. In his first epistle, the aged apostle John emphasizes this love time and again. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death" [1 John 3:14]. Sounds like a salvation and fellowship issue, doesn't it?! "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" [1 John 3:15]. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" [1 John 4:7]. "God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" [1 John 4:16]. We could go on, but I think the point has been sufficiently made. One of the essentials of both fellowship and salvation is LOVE. No need to infer or deduce or assume here! It is as clear as day! Contained within the inspired writings are many direct commands of the Lord to love God and one's fellow man (especially those who are fellow believers). This command to love, therefore, is clearly an essential part of God's pattern for daily living found within the inspired writings.
I further believe we can confidently list faith as one of the essential elements of our God's pattern for salvation. Also, those who are in fellowship with one another in the One Body are a "faith community." The Hebrew writer observed, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" [Heb. 11:6]. Those who do not even believe there is a God, certainly have no saving relationship with God. This would be true no matter the level of light to which one has been exposed. Even those who have only the lesser light of the testimony of the natural world about them, must still come to a belief in the One who created that world, and perceive therein the qualities of His eternal nature, and then order their lives thereby as best they can. Paul declares we are "justified by faith" [Rom. 5:1]. He also states, "By grace you have been saved through faith" [Eph. 2:8]. Thus, I think, in light of these two passages (and many more that could be given), we may declare faith to be an essential element of God's "pattern."
"God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent" [Acts 17:30]. Sounds to me like maybe repentance is on our God's short list of essentials. "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" [Rom. 10:9-10]. Once again, it sounds to me like just maybe our Lord desires for those who believe in Him to acknowledge that fact before others in their daily lives. Paul links confession with salvation. I would say that makes it an "essential." In Hebrews 5:9 we are informed that Jesus has become unto "all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation." This too, then, is a "salvation issue." If He commanded it, then we are to obey it. Paul spoke of an "obedience of faith" [Rom. 16:26], and Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" [John 14:15]. He did not urge us to keep the commandments of mere men, however. In fact, He stated that if we do, then we worship Him in vain [Matt. 15:9].
Brethren, we are to keep HIS commandments: "And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments" [1 John 2:3]. "And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded" [1 John 3:23]. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" [1 John 5:3]. The legalistic Pharisees sought to bind heavy loads upon others, and the legalists seek to do the same today. However, Jesus made it clear that HIS load was light, and HIS commandments were not so heavy that we would collapse under their weight. Darrell would pile every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph of the 27 New Covenant documents upon the backs of those who believe, and then add to that enormous load the burden of countless inferences and assumptions of mere fallible men that are drawn from what was never written in Scripture (the "law of silence"). It seems to me that any sane person would prefer the lighter load of our Savior.
For those individuals who have been blessed with the knowledge of God's grace as evidenced in the offering of His Son, and who are then made aware of His life and teachings and example, there is an increased obligation to visibly respond to that gift, both to accept it and to show lifelong appreciation for it. There is no way any individual can ever merit it; salvation is not "wages due." It truly is a gift from our Father; one that is appropriated by faith. A saving faith, however, is a visible faith. James indicated that virtually anyone can say they have faith, but he was determined to show his faith by his daily attitudes and actions [James 2]. Paul agreed when he wrote that those who had been saved by grace through faith (not through any effort of their own) would then engage in good works in their daily walk with the Lord [Eph. 2:10]. These would not be performed to be saved, but as evidence of their love and gratitude for being saved. For example, after God had poured out His Spirit upon Cornelius, thereby showing His acceptance of this man as one of His beloved sons, Cornelius then demonstrated his faith in the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ in a visible act of obedience: he was baptized.
Yes, I personally believe that water baptism is an act of faith ... a demonstration of faith ... one expected of us by our Father. It is a visible testimony of faith to an unbelieving, though watching, world, just as repentance and confession are. None of these evidences of faith are salvific in and of themselves, but they are all vital elements of our faith response. Faith alone (undemonstrated) is dead, declares James. What he simply means is -- faith must be shown; it must be evidenced. If I'm too ashamed or fearful to stand tall for Jesus in a world filled with darkness, how can I expect Jesus to stand tall for me before the Father. If I deny Him, He'll deny me. Thus, if I claim to have faith, then I need to show it. I do that by a changed life (repentance). I do that by daily acknowledging my love and devotion for Him (confession). I do that by demonstrating, in a symbolic and visible manner (water baptism), the reality of my death to sin and resurrection to life in Him. That baptism is not the point of salvation, but is rather a point of reference! I am not "saved" the split-second my nose breaks the surface of the waters of the baptistery, but rather am saved by grace through faith. As a result of His grace and my faith, and because of my great love for Him, I will respond by complying with His every wish; His every command. He has commanded me to turn my life around. I will do so. He has asked me to acknowledge Him in my daily walk. I will do so. He has urged me to be immersed. I will do so. He has asked me to remember Him in the Lord's Supper. I will do so. He has asked me to be a servant; to be loving; to be benevolent, etc. I will do so. If I should REFUSE to do any of these, my standing with my Father is in jeopardy. Indeed, one would have to question the reality of my professed faith, if I was adamantly opposed to demonstrating that faith as He has requested. However, I do not do these many things TO BE saved, but rather do them out of a heart filled with love for Him who has embraced me. How could I ... how dare I ... refuse Him anything, who has refused me nothing?!
This first affirmative to the second proposition is not a lengthy one ... it doesn't need to be. My assertion is a simple one. If God commands it, I'll obey. However, if mere fallible men infer it, then don't expect me to give it the same weight with regard to fellowship and salvation. The actual commands of our God within the New Covenant documents are few. That is simply a fact. The inferences of mere men that have been elevated to the status of divine decree are voluminous. That also is a fact. I will bow to the former, but never to the latter. Yet another fact, and it is a sad one, is that the vast majority of the fussing and fighting in the Family of God, as well as the fragmenting of this Family, has been over matters never even mentioned in the Scriptures. Someone infers something, assumes their inference is infallible, and then seeks to bind their inference upon the rest of humanity as God's Will. When others will not bow to their wisdom, squabbles and schism ensue. Factions are formed, war is waged, and the only one smiling is Satan. Promoting a pattern rather than a Person will only produce a party (and I do not mean the celebratory kind).
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" [Gal. 5:1]. "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" [vs. 4]. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love" [vs. 6]. The background of this epistle is the Judaizers who had come proclaiming "Jesus + _____ = Salvation." It was a demonic doctrine that would cost men their eternal salvation. That was true then, and it is true today. Darrell would bind every single word, phrase, sentence and paragraph of the 27 New Testament documents upon you as essential to fellowship in the One Body and eternal salvation. That is a "Jesus + ____" doctrine! If you embrace it, you are severed from Christ and fallen from grace. That is serious business. That is why I have devoted much of my life to exposing this false doctrine and those who proclaim it. That is why I go to great extremes, and risk much personally, to try and reach those being jeopardized by this teaching. If even a few are brought to the Light by these efforts, then God's efforts through me (and through others who are equally committed to Truth) will have been well worth the sacrifice.
Darrell will now undoubtedly unleash a flurry of furry rabbits for me to chase about in an effort to distract you from the simplicity of God's pattern for daily living in Jesus Christ, and also to distract you from the complex system of patternistic LAW that he would impose upon you so that you might be "saved" and in "fellowship" with him and his cohorts. Although I will, of necessity, be forced to dispatch a few of these critters, I shall continue to hold his feet to the fire and call him to account for his false teaching. His proposition is untenable; it is ludicrous and fallacious. It easily crumbles under even casual scrutiny. A mere child can perceive the lunacy of it, and yet Darrell and others persist in their Pharisaical doctrines. I shall persist in exposing them to the light of Truth. My prayer is that this exchange will open the eyes of many who were previously blinded to the liberty offered in our Lord Jesus Christ. May the walls about you crumble, and may your burdens be lifted. "I have called you ... to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeons, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison" [Isaiah 42:6-7]. May God give strength to those of us who are free, so that we might fulfill our calling.
T/F Questions for Darrell