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From the Anabaptists: Brandhuber on love and obedience

Posted by on May 1, 2012 in church history, love | 72 comments

From the Anabaptists: Brandhuber on love and obedience

Last week, I enjoyed reading an article about Anabaptists and writing about that article in my post “Which Distinctive Practices and Beliefs of Anabaptists are Important for the Church Today?” Then, it seems that you (my readers) enjoyed the post and the distinctives as well – even in the points that you disagreed.

Reading that article, writing the posts, and following the discussion in the comments reminded me of a great book that I read online last year called “The Secret of the Strength.” One of the things that I love about that book is that the author (Peter Hoover) includes many, many quotations from the Anabaptists themselves.

For the next few days, I’m going to post a few of those quotations. You may not agree with everything they wrote, but hopefully they will help us thinking about our new life in Jesus Christ.

The first quotation was written by Wolfgang Brandhuber just before he was executed (Sendbrief an die Gemeinde Gottes, 1529):

If we want to be one with God, we need to be one with his will (Christ Jesus). That happens when we tell him about our great needs and when we tell him that we love him. If we love him we keep his commandments because love—if it is love—comes from the heart. How could true love be anything but from the heart? And love continually seeks love, like the bride in Solomon’s song who can sing and speak of nothing else.

True Christianity works on nothing but love. It needs no law because it fulfills the commands of God out of pure love and exercises itself in this day and night. It leaves everything earthly behind. It despises everything earthly to the pit, and asks: “Why bother with that?” It seeks because it loves. The more it loves the more it seeks to be loved—engaging itself to the Beloved One and peering out through the lattice work to watch him come from afar.

For so many, love does not seem to be enough. So, rules and procedures are put in place to make certain that everything happens as it should and everyone acts as they should. But, in reality, people cannot obey God apart from love. You would think that we would have learned from the examples we read about in the Old Testament that we cannot make ourselves obey God, even when we really want to.

Love is enough. In fact, love is all we have – love produced by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as we submit to him. Through that love, we can now obey. And, if we are not obeying, the problem is not with our lack of action or even with wrong action. The problem is with love. We do not try harder or give God more or be excellent. We confess, submit, and trust in his love.

We can do many things without love. But, we cannot obey God without love. And, if we find that we are not obeying God – not following Jesus Christ – then we have stopped responding to and responding in the love of God.

Is love enough? Do you agree with Brandhuber that “true Christianity works on nothing but love”? How can we tell the difference between obeying out of love and obeying out of other motives or intentions? If God’s love is all we need, why are there so many commands in Scripture?


72 Comments

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  1. 5-1-2012

    That series of books by Hoover are exceptional.

    Yes, its all we need and its is the only thing that counts in Christ’s Kingdom/Reign.

    Galatians 5:6- For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

    The good news is that the old covenant was a weak covenant of external restraint, while the New Covenant in Christ’s blood is a covenant of divine enabling and motivation:

    Romans 5:5-And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

    He enables us to love as He commands.

  2. 5-1-2012

    Is love enough? Do you agree with Brandhuber that “true Christianity works on nothing but love”? How can we tell the difference between obeying out of love and obeying out of other motives or intentions?

    God is LOVE, so yes. For nothing can truly work for the good (GOD) for God the Father is only good. No on comes to receive the Spirit except from Jesus’ finished work. Love is the end of the commandment.

    How can one tell. This is known of you the Soul. It is either of Flesh (the law of sin and death) or the Spirit (our born again inward man) that Paul talks about Romans 6 and 7. Ask god as you read it again and again. This is where Paul talks about it is love( the inward man) were He serves God. So we know when we act in out of the flesh and or the Spirit. God and you know the truth. Man can fool anyone, the evil that is present all around is a part of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But actually that tree was cursed and destroyed on the cross. For Jesus openly exposed this tree and showed it to be not the tree of good and evil. He showed us the people that that tree was pure EVIL, masquerading as good. People are still born to this day in and of this tree of evil for they are taught that there is some good in them.
    This is a lie, there is no good in flesh and blood, none.
    God can only be worshipped in Spirit and truth, Spiritual love God’s and he chose to Hebrews 10:17-18 Now go and eat off of the tree of life that was still in the garden after they ate of the tree of evil, that was blocked access by God until the day of Christ Jesus crucified. Love is what goes on forever, everything else shall pass away except love. to and for you all Howard

  3. 5-1-2012

    “He who loves has fulfilled the law.” Yet even our human love is not enough… only the love that comes from the Holy Spirit working in us will do. It’s all of grace.

  4. 5-1-2012

    It is much easier to set up rules and standards that are concrete and clear, than it is to simply love. Following requirements does not require a change of who you are, just the things you do. Sometimes it is difficult not to do those things, but it is still much easier than changing your heart, especially when we cannot change our hearts for ourselves, simply trust the spirit to do it in us. Love is scary, and looking at your life and asking “Do I love people? Do I love God?” it is pretty unlikely that you’ll walk away patting yourself on the back, but on the other hand we can be proud of the fact that we don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t kill people, don’t fornicate, and so on… Love is tough because it results in killing a lot of pride. That is why I think we like to keep going back to the law. That is why I feel a lot more comfortable with just having to follow rules and not having to look at my heart.

  5. 5-1-2012

    There is loving that costs little or nothing, and makes one feel quite good. I walk into a store, open the door for others and smile, listen to and talk with the clerk. 10 minutes, five happy encounters, one even where I may get a little rudeness but turn it around with kindness. Yay me, I’m such a good follower of Christ.

    Then, there are those moments and people and places and situations where your love is tested. You want to fight back. You want to defend yourself. You are angry things didn’t go well, that you are being taken advantage of, that you are being blamed falsely. Anger wells up. Fear darkens your sight. This isn’t meant to be a heavy burden, but slipping off the buckles of our heavy burden is along this road.

    You know what? Doing the simpler, feel good things, when they are the overflow of love with Him and with others, exercises our ability, just as David first fought with wolves and wild cats and bears, and then was prepared to take on Goliath. We develop a taste for letting Him flow through us to others.

    So, love to the extent you can, freely, rejoicingly, enjoyably. Even if for now just the easy things are possible. The time will come when you recognize the failure of your love in the hard things, and stop making excuses and face yourself, then Him. Then you will humble yourself, and find yourself moving beyond limitations and flesh through Him.

    I’m hungry for this sort of thing, so to me, a crumb is a meal I receive with thanksgiving and wonder.

  6. 5-1-2012

    Andrew Bernhardt says:

    “He who loves has fulfilled the law.” Yet even our human love is not enough… only the love that comes from the Holy Spirit working in us will do. It’s all of grace.

    Absolutely, this is truth that sets one free, and yet the wrold comes against it
    Howard

  7. 5-1-2012

    Art said
    I’m hungry for this sort of thing, so to me, a crumb is a meal I receive with thanksgiving and wonder.

    Howard says wow, yes this is moving in the correct direction, coming to the full understanding that God wants us all to have
    Thanks Art
    Howard

  8. 5-1-2012

    Dan said
    It is much easier to set up rules and standards that are concrete and clear, than it is to simply love. Following requirements does not require a change of who you are
    Good revealation here, that is right, it does not reguire a change of who you are. Yrt if you reguire that change then through belief that gold will show you the change done by him through belef and belief alone, then love is easy, and you are shown how hard it really is to follow rules and regulations. For when you are led by the spirit as Art mentioned you are free to love as God has loved you, and god has loved all this much Hebrews 10:17-18
    Howard

  9. 5-1-2012

    Hutch,

    I love Galatians. Paul exhorts the believers in Galatia about their freedom in Christ, then gives them commands (that they should supposedly follow?). Do you think this is contradictory to the statement, “True Christianity works on nothing but love”?

    Howard,

    Hebrews 10 is another favorite chapter of Scripture for me. What do you think about the three commands that follow in Hebrews 10:19-25 (draw near, hold fast, and consider one another)? Or what about the commands in Hebrews 13? Are these types of commands contrary to our freedom in Christ and a focus on the love of God?

    Andrew,

    I agree: it’s all of grace. I’ll ask you the same questions I asked Hutch and Howard above: Are the commands found in the New Testament – often immediately following reminders about grace and love – contrary to living by grace?

    Art,

    I like your exercise metaphor and the comparison with David. We love as we can and trust God to increase our response to love. What do you think about the commands, though? Are the commands in Scripture contrary to “loving to the extent we can”?

    -Alan

  10. 5-1-2012

    Saying all you need is love is pretty easy but what does that look like? Is love simply being nice to others? Is it letting someone do things that are destructive?

    I don’t see this as an either-or proposition and based on what I have read from Peter Hoover and other Anabaptists I don’t think they would either. Love involves obedience and obedience requires knowing how to obey. The Bible is chock full of teaching about what love looks like, how we should love, what loving means. I think we need to be cautious and not reduce love to an attitude of anything goes as long as we “love”. I think we often mistake “tolerance” for love but we mustn’t let the world define love for the church, as the church we must model God’s gracious but also holy love to the world in our words and our deeds.

    Everything we do should be done in love but not everything we call “love” reflects God’s love.

  11. 5-1-2012

    “Are the commands in Scripture contrary to ‘loving to the extent we can?'”

    Jesus gave us a new commandment, and also didn’t hesitate to say things like, “go and sin no more.” I think God expects us to do what He says. So, they aren’t contrary to obedience. It’s just that obedience, for the most part, escapes me. I haven’t yet figured out how.

    We can only try by relying on our own strength for so long. I think God expects us sooner or later to be humbled and admit our inability. If we refuse to see ourselves as we are, if we hide the truth from ourselves, if we are satisfied with our fake holiness and love, then our response to His commandment is what is faulty.

    The Jews frequently under-estimated the extent to which God meant what He said, and so convinced themselves that as far away as they were to anyone objectively looking on, they assessed themselves fully “in compliance” while satisfying their own desires, as if they were fulfilling all He asked as well as whatever they wanted. We, too, can fool ourselves in that way.

    Eventually He pierces their murky understanding. “You say, but I say to you…” and He cuts through their charade. Eventually, He lays us open and we are brought to see ourselves in the mirror, sans masks and subterfuge. Utter revulsion is a good description.

    I only know my own experience. Sometimes I read passages in scripture that make me wonder–I don’t experience newness of life and freedom from sin; I am not in the palce where “all things are new;” with “old things are passed.” *sigh* If being a Christian means no longer struggling with sin and evil and failure, I am still lost.

    But I have moments with Him. I experience itty bitty love now and then as well as oodles of self and pride and anger and fear. In those better moments, I am so in love with Him. I feel embedded into Him. I see the way I think He sees.

    One day, I hope, when I see Him, I will finally be free of this war, my tears dried.

  12. 5-1-2012

    Arthur, yes, the pattern is set before us, the examples abundant. Love isn’t a simple notion or a deep feeling.

  13. 5-1-2012

    Dan,

    I’m sorry I skipped your comment earlier. I agree that it is easier to follow rules and we tend to fall back into rules and regulations. I think this is one place that the commands in Scripture can help us. We may be doing great things (following rules), but how do we compare to those commands? Not too well? Then, the problem isn’t with the commands, but with our reliance on God and his love. What do you think?

    Arthur,

    Yes, I agree. The Anabaptists were a good example of people who lived solely on the love and grace of God, but also lived very “strict” lives following the commands of Christ.

    Art,

    You said, “I think God expects us sooner or later to be humbled and admit our inability.” Exactly. Even the most basic command – “Love one another” – the primary fruit of the Spirit perhaps – is beyond our ability, and yet is constantly commanded by the authors of Scripture. Commanded so that we try harder? No. So that we recognize our own inability and the necessity of God’s grace and presence.

    -Alan

  14. 5-1-2012

    Alan-

    Good question. No, as Paul teaches it’s the very “love of God” that indwells us through the given Holy Spirit, this motivates and enables us to love God, neighbor, brother/sister and enemy in very practical sacrificial ways- God’s love is not a feeling-although you can feel it-it produces nothing but obedience.

    For instance this is a very easy example, many times the smaller things that grate against our pride are harder to fulfill in love due to our flesh, but take adultery we are commanded in both the old covenant and new covenant to not commit adultery. If we love God/Christ we will obey His commands as John teaches, so the love of God that He has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit imparted to us this enables and motivates us to not commit adultery, we then are reminded by the counselor who leads us into all truth that we are to love our neighbor so secondarily…so then we do not commit adultery not just because doing so would show disdain for not love for God (although it would be reason enough) but also it would show that we do not love our neighbor as we steal and destroy what he has by committing adultery with his wife.

    It is only through this process of expressing God’s love that is within us that we are ever really obedient to Christ and His commands. Unbelievers can obey rules, and they can express the feeling that some call love that Arthur is talking about, but they cannot express the love of God that believers can that results in the righteous of God in our behavior as we experience Christ living His life through us.

  15. 5-1-2012

    What do you think about the three commands that follow in Hebrews 10:19-25 (draw near, hold fast, and consider one another)?

    Alan the three commands as you mentioned are not commands to me. these three things when in the flesh are commands and used very sneaky by the Spirti of error. and has over taken the Church that man made.
    So when I am asked what church do I go to? My reply is the one in Heaven that God made not man. The passages prior about forsaking the fellowship. 10:19 Having therefore boldness (because of Hebrews 10:17-18)to enter into the kingdom. No command here Hebrews 10:20 by a new and living way (ensuring the fact that we are forgiven) Hebrews 10:21 further assurance that we are made Holy From God’s standpoint. Having a high Priest over the house of God ( Christ Jesus, who lives forever and is everyones high priest that believes. Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near Hebrews 10:23 let us hold fast (that we are forgiven and there is no more sacrifice for sin) Back to Hebrews 10:17-18. I wrote in my blog about Hebrews 10:25 and many other things. Anyone is welcome to venture over there. There might be meat for you, and you might reply back with meat for me. IRON always sharpens IRON
    Thanks Alan for you
    Howard

  16. 5-1-2012

    Hutch,

    I agree. And, the commands in the NT were written to unbelievers. Why do you think the authors didn’t just stop at reminding them of the grace of God, the love of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit? Why the commands?

    Howard,

    Whether you see them as commands to you or not is beside the point. They are commands. In fact, Hebrews 10:19-25 is one long sentence that begins by reminding the readers of who they are (and what they have) in Jesus Christ, but then concludes by commanding them (using the same verb structures as the 10 commandments in the OT) to draw near, hold fast, and consider one another.

    -Alan

  17. 5-1-2012

    Or what about the commands in Hebrews 13? Are these types of commands contrary to our freedom in Christ and a focus on the love of God?

    Hebrews 13:1 Starts out with Let Brotherly love continue King james version. but the key word here is let it continue. What are we to let continue? That to me is the facts. Because we have receiveds the Love of God we let That love God’s continue. But unfortunately Scripture is used, interpreted from flesh and blood, for mans glory as Paul wrote to the Galatians about who has bewitched you. When one sees truth as truth is, the love of God abounds and abounds much more than sin did or even does. Look at Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say The Lord is my helper (shepard) AND I SHALL NOT FEAR WHAT MAN SHALL DO TO ME. I do not see commands I see boldness and I see love, not worldly, Godly
    Thanks again Alan for having me here as apart of this whole one anothering.
    Howard

  18. 5-1-2012

    Howard,

    You said, “I do not see commands I see boldness and I see love…” Well, “Let brotherly love continue..” is a command. And there are many other commands in Hebrews 13 beyond verse 6. There are also commands in verses 7, 9, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, and 24. Plus, there are many other commands in that book. One of my personal favorite commands (aside from the 3 in Hebrews 10:19-25) is found in Hebrews 3:13. We can’t take the parts about grace and love and forgiveness out of the New Testament and read them apart from the commands. If we do, we will completely misunderstand what the authors are saying.

    -Alan

  19. 5-1-2012

    Alan i see what I see in the Spirit of god and do not expect anyone else to see what I see. I am merely stating what I see. I relate to the song by Norman Greenbaum SPIRIT IN THE SKY. WHEN I DIE I AM GOING TO THE SPIRIT IN THE SKY. Wait a minute through belief I am already in the heavens in the sky, yelling haleluah!!!!!!!!! thankyou, thank you and thank you. As King David said seeing the crucifiction afar off ENTERING HIS COURTS WITH THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE. So another song artist that said in his song YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE LIKE A REFUGEE. wE ARE CALLED TO FREEDOM. But do not use it for an ocassion for the flesh. love you man
    Howard

  20. 5-1-2012

    Howard,

    You said, “i see what I see in the Spirit of god and do not expect anyone else to see what I see.” All of us who are in Christ also have his Spirit within us. The Spirit brings us to unity of understanding and knowledge of him. Even though Paul was taught the gospel by Jesus directly, he still compared the gospel that he was proclaiming to the gospel proclaimed by the apostles in Jerusalem. The Spirit does not work individualistically.

    All of the authors of the New Testament wrote to people who had the Spirit of God, who were free in Christ, who were recipients of God’s grace and forgiveness, and who were to live completely in his love. They also wrote them commands. These things are not inconsistent with one another, but work together.

    -Alan

  21. 5-1-2012

    Alan-

    Why the encouragements, exhortations sometimes in the form of an imperative from Paul to the Galatians? I think it would be dangerous to make a general sweeping statement as to why Paul gave imperative exhortations within his correspondences; I would say they are varied depending on context and what he was addressing. We know it was motivated by love for God and the brethren! :) I’ll take one example and we can break it down. In the letter we know as Galatians, Paul is buffering the Galatian brethren against a false gospel that is certainly anything but good news, those who place a yoke of bondage on Christ’s disciples had infiltrated, these Judaizers brought a message that Paul says if accepted made Christ of no benefit to an individual whereby they stop trusting in the grace of God by faith and rather attempt to be justified my dead works of the flesh, Paul teaches them about their freedom in Christ whereby they do not gratify the desires of the flesh –but are exhorted to “commanded” to serve each other in love. In this case (Galatians 5) the command is to serve one another in love, serving, attending to each other’s needs and building each other up is a form of love and is fulfilled by being motivated to keep this command out of love for Christ and our brothers and sisters. So the teaching holds true, why would/should we serve each other in love and not gratify the desires of the flesh? Love for God and neighbor/brother. So Paul is in essence not commanding anything different than what Christ and the Indwelling presence of Christ/Holy Spirit teaches love God and love neighbor, fulfills the righteous requirements of the law. Paul tells them that in doing that they would avoid biting and devouring one another, which is the result of following the divisive legalistic teaching of the Judaistic law teaching mutilators of the flesh who specialize in dividing and devouring the brethren-they are still among us BTW. It would be neat to look at and discuss all of Paul’s “commands” and see how they would be put into action, but I suspect the fulfillment of any command that Paul uttered would also be fulfilled by the love of God and love for God motivating and enabling us to carry it out.

  22. 5-1-2012

    Alan-

    BTW I am assuming in my response that you meant “written to believers”.

  23. 5-1-2012

    Hutch,

    oops… Yes, I meant “written to believers.”

    I agree that all of the commands assume a response based on loving God and loving others. I find it interesting that every letter (not just the one written to the believers in Galatia, and not just the ones written by Paul) include commands beyond the commands to love God and love others. I do not think this conflicts with living in the love and grace of God. In fact, following the commands can demonstrate the love of God and others. Of course, we can also do things with the wrong motives and intentions…

    -Alan

  24. 5-1-2012

    :)

  25. 5-1-2012

    Doing what someone asks you, when you dont want to,is love, in the spirit of self renunciation. God commands us to repent, we obey, and make a habit of obeying Him and He calls that loving Him. We forgive our enemies, and He says thats love too.
    I like Galatians 5.
    After telling us that being circumcised or not is irrelevant, Paul says that faith works by love.
    And, without faith, its impossible to please God.
    And faith is a fruit of the Spirit.
    So, its His love that the bible is talking about.
    We dont have love that’s worthy of response to Gods call, and given the worst case circumstances, human love will abandon Jesus at the cross.
    The love that sticks it out is His love, planted in us, and its there because we gave up on our own, and are drawing on His.
    So yes, I think they were right.
    blessings
    Greg

  26. 5-1-2012

    Enjoyed reading this post and all the comments! Looking forward to seeing what quotes you pick out in the next few days. Thought of you yesterday as we drove through NC on 77 although I think we were a little West of you. Drove from Panama City Fl. to PA in 18 hours.

  27. 5-1-2012

    “Are the commands found in the New Testament – often immediately following reminders about grace and love – contrary to living by grace?”

    I see all of those commands as God’s way of telling me I need to continually walk in dependence on His Holy Spirit. I don’t need to do this to gain or maintain His favor (I already have it). But the fellowship with Him is so much sweeter when there is greater unity with Him. If Jesus walked in dependence on the Holy Spirit when He didn’t have to, I especially should.

  28. 5-1-2012

    Everything we do should be done in love but not everything we call “love” reflects God’s love.
    No matter what it all boils down to this, the love and deeds shown are either of the Holy Spirit of truth or they are of flesh and blood acting as if it is good. There is no in between. So I say practice to knowing the Spirit of God
    Howard

  29. 5-1-2012

    Art, If being a Christian means no longer struggling with sin and evil and failure, I am still lost

    No your not lost when you believe Art and Still struggling. God is working out yuor salvation if you only let him. You already know you cannot stop sin, wishing to be purged from sin the conscience of. This is in Hebrews 10. Italks of one concscience of sin is purged in Christ and the finished work. This takes submitting ones flesh and blood to God daily, saying I am finished so God can take over and purge your conscience from Sin. Hebrews 10:1-2 1 John 3:3 and every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure. how is that he is pure, because God throguh Christ did this the day yuo first believed.
    You are on the cusp of a breakthrough, to understanding the only hope of glory is Christ in you, via the Holy Ghost. When you are out of the way trying to obey the law then God can do his job in and you, thus through you brother. Sin takes ocassion by the commandment. Romans 7:11. So does Paul lie here. He even went as far as to have agreat heaviness for the believers Romans 9. And inn Romans 8 he said therefore there is no condemnation for those that seek after the Spirit, not the flesh Galations 5 talks about the fight between the Flesh and Spirit. Paul says die to flesh daily.
    Love you to see through to te truth and have your conscience purged from dead works, and have no more conscience of sin, For Christ took it all away and John the babtist was the witness in John 1:29.
    so please I beg you all to ask God to see the truth that is in the word to you all.
    love to all
    Howard

  30. 5-1-2012

    “Love one another” – the primary fruit of the Spirit perhaps – is beyond our ability, and yet is constantly commanded by the authors of Scripture. Commanded so that we try harder? No. So that we recognize our own inability and the necessity of God’s grace and presence. -Alan

    From what you posted her we are in total agreement, it is the word commandment that in real definition is a law that one gets flesh in the way. that is exactly what was the problem with the first Chosen, through the commandments people were and are shown their inability. So when one tries to do a commandment their inability is revealed, But God took all sin away, took us the believers out from under the law with all its commandments that showed us the curse. Now believers are saying they see this, yet their consciences are not purged from sin. from beinjg purged one sees to live with God in peace and security forever
    Howard

  31. 5-2-2012

    but they cannot express the love of God that believers can that results in the righteous of God in our behavior as we experience Christ living His life through us.

    Hutch, the whole paragraph, you truthfully nailed it do the “T”
    Howard

  32. 5-2-2012

    Alan, now i concur on this
    the commands in the NT were written to unbelievers.

    Not the ones that have submitted their flesh and blood to God.

  33. 5-2-2012

    Alan
    Howard, You said, “I do not see commands I see boldness and I see love…” Well, “Let brotherly love continue..” is a command. And there are many other commands in Hebrews 13 beyond verse 6. There are also commands in verses 7, 9, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, and 24. Plus, there are many other commands in that book. One of my personal favorite commands (aside from the 3 in Hebrews 10:19-25) is found in Hebrews 3:13. We can’t take the parts about grace and love and forgiveness out of the New Testament and read them apart from the commands. If we do, we will completely misunderstand what the authors are saying. -Alan

    And I shall say it again Sin takes ocassion by the commandment Romans 7:9-11. Now as I said to the unbeliever I see what you say for without coming to the end of the energy of ones own flesh how will one know that they need God. So are these for the believer these commands you talk of? in other words after one is saved in Christ are these commands for the believer? If you say they are for the believer, then would that not keep the believer in bondage to sin, and never purge their conscience from sin? and never move onto the new life, because we are so busy trying to obey, having doubt in ourselves, that we get like most christians are, tired and wore out?
    Howard

  34. 5-2-2012

    Greg,

    I also like that Galatians 5 is immediately followed by Galatians 6. There is a right way to respond to the love of God. If we are not responding in that way, then we are not loving God or living in his love.

    Rod,

    Panama City, FL? When I lived in Alabama, we went there several times a year. I haven’t been there in a few years now though. I miss those white beaches. Thanks for reading!

    Andrew,

    I like the way that you expressed that.

    Howard,

    I think you missed my correction. Every letter and book in the New Testament is written to believers, to people who are already in Christ and who are already indwelled by the Holy Spirit – that includes the commands included in those letters and books. Those commands (whether we like them or not) are written by people who understood the freedom we have in Christ and were addressed to people who were already free in Christ.

    -Alan

  35. 5-2-2012

    The law which includes commands was put in place for the unbeliever to show the ones need for salvation. No law, command is for the believer.
    Howard

  36. 5-2-2012

    Hutch said, I suspect the fulfillment of any command that Paul uttered would also be fulfilled by the love of God and love for God motivating and enabling us to carry it out.

    and Alan this is what i am saying, i presume that you agree here
    Thanks hutch well put
    Howard

  37. 5-2-2012

    Greg. yes well put as well

    I like Galatians 5. After telling us that being circumcised or not is irrelevant, Paul says that faith works by love. And, without faith, its impossible to please God. And faith is a fruit of the Spirit. So, its His love that the bible is talking about. We dont have love that’s worthy of response to Gods call, and given the worst case circumstances, human love will abandon Jesus at the cross. The love that sticks it out is His love, planted in us, and its there because we gave up on our own, and are drawing on His. So yes, I think they were right. blessings Greg
    thanks howard

  38. 5-2-2012

    Andrew,

    I don’t need to do this to gain or maintain His favor (I already have it). But the fellowship with Him is so much sweeter when there is greater unity with Him. If Jesus walked in dependence on the Holy Spirit when He didn’t have to, I especially should.

    Wow looks like you got it. and the very same Holy Spirit is who was sent after his ascenscion. So we that believe have the same as who led Jesus.
    Howard

  39. 5-2-2012

    Alan said,
    I think you missed my correction.

    i think i see what you say. Yet you miss mine. I am free and I through the power of the Holy Spirit of God I will not be entangled again back to a yoke of bondage. I have taken on his burden and it is lite (LIGHT) I have taken on his yoke and it is easy. I have thirsted after righteousness and have been filled, finding that it is his righteousness, none of my own. I have mourned and found peace. He has made me a pure heart and I see God. I am not working at it any longer. So i shall say it like Martin Luthor. I see the light, and it is glorious beyond measure
    Love you Alan

  40. 5-2-2012

    I thought a few of the many verses related to law might help to clarify any fuzzy thinking any of us might have on what the law is.

    Romans 7:13-15

    13Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

    14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

    15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

    1 Timothy 1:8-10

    8But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

    9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

    10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

    So, the law is for lawbreakers, whether christian or not.
    As a matter of fact, it was given to those who knew God, or should and could have, not the pagans. It was given to a nation that had seen His acts, heard His voice, rec’d His salvation and provision.
    We also, when we cease to reckon ourselves dead to the sin, end up sinning, walking in the flesh, needing the commands of the law to jerk us back to faith in His finished work and our utter haplessness to obey Him on our own.
    This is not a christian vs non christian dynamic.
    Abraham was justified, before the law was given, by trusting in Christ future, and we are justified by trusting in Christ past, who is, then and now, alive.
    Christ is the end of the law for us who believe, and correspondingly obey in response to Him, thereby operating by faith, which works by (His)love.
    The Lord says we are to avoid doubtful disputations, and I think this discussion qualifies as one of them. Id suggest our different understandings of the law, and its place in our lives and the kingdom take a back seat, so that we can use our energy, intellect and time to encourage one another to overcome, persevere and generally strive to stay on the narrow path that leads to the narrow gate, which (who)is (Christ) Life.
    Greg

  41. 5-2-2012

    Howard and Greg,

    There is a huge difference between the commands in the NT written to people who are in Christ and “keeping the law.” In fact, the same authors who condemned those who would attempt to become righteous through keeping the law would then write commands to their readers. These are not the same things at all.

    -Alan

  42. 5-2-2012

    True.

  43. 5-2-2012

    Greg, thanks
    Id suggest our different understandings of the law, and its place in our lives and the kingdom take a back seat, so that we can use our energy, intellect and time to encourage one another to overcome, persevere and generally strive to stay on the narrow path that leads to the narrow gate, which (who)is (Christ) Life.
    Greg

    Thanks Greg, splitting hairs is not good and has unfortunately led to that and you are correct here Romans14, for God is able to make his servant(s) stand. to his own master he stands or falls
    Relief, Howard

  44. 5-2-2012

    Alan, thank you for your thoughts beliefs, much appreciated. I do not wish to split hairs. Which i think we have done here. I just go by the definition of commandment. And you state that there are two definitions of commandment, one in the old covenant and a differant meaning in the new covenant. This is okay with me. And I do not wish to put upon you or anyone a block to their walk of faith in Christ, please understand for me to command me, my flesh and blood wants to come alive, and God has dealt with me on this, showing me how evil flesh and blood is. So I therefore choose to trust God in that God has by my free choice killed my flesh and blood thinking. Maybe this will help you to understand why I am so persistant about dying to commandments, for flesh and blood from my experience is aroused through any type of commandment. I do not know about anyone else except me, and this is true with my flesh and blood thinking. It stinks. So I get rid of me daily by dying to flesh and blood as Paul said to do. If I am dead then I am free to serve period.
    great discussion, thanks Howard

  45. 5-2-2012

    Thanks Howard.
    It occurred to me that Wolfgang Brandhuber’s most powerful legacy might be his death, rather than his writing.
    Its too bad that so many know of the boldness and uncompromising stand they, and other pilgrims thru history took, but dont read their writings, and dont know that many of the issues for which they lived and died are exactly the same ones we face today.
    Good work Alan, for picking out the gems to re-publish.
    The Lord stands up to salute in heaven when His servants are killed (Stephen) but apparently stays seated when we publish something profound, and that comforts me.
    I dont have to, and cant do anything of value other than give my life to Him in grateful response to His loving command to love Him back.
    Jesus is wonderful eh?
    blessings
    Greg

  46. 5-2-2012

    Greg Gamble says:

    Thanks Howard.
    It occurred to me that Wolfgang Brandhuber’s most powerful legacy might be his death, rather than his writing.
    Its too bad that so many know of the boldness and uncompromising stand they, and other pilgrims thru history took, but dont read their writings, and dont know that many of the issues for which they lived and died are exactly the same ones we face today.

    Thanks greg and the love i found that god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. when I found it was for me personally and you and all that come to belief, that what he did was take away all sin in his sight through his son. realizing this is when I loved back, how could i not? then from this i learned how coud i not forgive since I am forgiven even before I was born? So I saw in the old covenant I loved to get loved and I forgave to get forgiven. But in this new covenant I forgive because I am forgiven, I love because i am loved. Old testament the ones that lived by faith, King David after learning, Moses after learning, abraham after learning trusted for the coming savior Christ Jesus, the redemption, reconciliation, the time when they could enter his courts with thanksgiving and praise. We all today that believe are looking back at the redemption, reconciliation it is done. This is a big WOW to me and i understand what Jesus meant when he said those that come after him and his finished work will do much more. How amazing this is. Many old testament saints were looking forward to. And we are looking back it has happened. Let us all enter his courts with thanksgiving and praise
    Howard

  47. 5-2-2012

    Howard,

    In this post (and in almost every post that I write), I’m referring to people who are in Christ – i.e., God’ people, the church. Thus, when I refer to “commands”, I’m referring to the commands written by NT authors to other Christians.

    Greg,

    I also prefer to learn from the lives of the saints that God has placed around me instead of reading about the lives of others saints who I have never met. God teaches me much more through that daily interaction.

    -Alan

  48. 5-2-2012

    Alan. Yes, I love the imagery of living stones, epistles, sheep, wheat etc. He is alive, and the innumerable attributes of all living things offer endless glimpses behind the veil that our senses can’t do alone.
    His presence is our very breath, and the scriptures point to Him.
    May we see Jesus.
    Greg

  49. 5-2-2012

    Thanks Alan and what is your interpretation of the new testament commandments? is it we have to do what is said or else? Is God a tyrant? Did God come to earth in the flesh? Is christ one with God? Do we still have free will after salvation? or is God not love after all?
    Just curious to see where you are coming from.
    Thanks howard

  50. 5-2-2012

    His presence is our very breath, and the scriptures point to Him.
    May we see Jesus.
    Greg
    Hey Greg take a gamble and see Hebrews 4:1-16, ask god of your heart to reveal whatever it is that needs revealed to you if anything needs to be revealed to you. we can see Jesus today in the throne room we the believers are invited
    Howard

  51. 5-2-2012

    Thanx Howard

  52. 5-2-2012

    greg gamble says:

    Thanx Howard

    WELCOME

  53. 5-2-2012

    Greg,

    You said, “May we see Jesus.” Yes, and may we continue to exhort one another to look to Jesus both in our words and our actions.

    Howard,

    As you’ve said many times, our sinful desires war against the Spirit who dwells in us. At times, we listen to and follow the Spirit. At other times, we listen to and follow our sinful desires. When we are following our sinful desires, we may even think we are following the Spirit.

    The commands in the New Testament – like our teaching, exhortation, correction, admonition, rebuke, etc. – point us away from living by the flesh and point us toward walking in the Spirit – living according to the Gospel – honoring God with our words and actions – etc. These are not to save us – we are already in Christ. They are to help us as we seek to abide in Christ together. Thus, we exhort/instruct one another as the Spirit leads us.

    -Alan

  54. 5-2-2012

    The commands in the New Testament – like our teaching, exhortation, correction, admonition, rebuke, etc. – point us away from living by the flesh and point us toward walking in the Spirit – living according to the Gospel – honoring God with our words and actions – etc. These are not to save us – we are already in Christ. They are to help us as we seek to abide in Christ together. Thus, we exhort/instruct one another as the Spirit leads us.

    -Alan

    And I thank you for having a comitment, in the room of the committed. Alan i a exhorting for all to see the room of surrender, where we are dead to flesh in our minds (the spirit of ) as Paul has said in scripture so many ways and times. When one submits flesh to God, as in surrenders it with a white flag, the war is over. One leaves the comitment room and enters the surrendered room. Thus god then can do what God has intended to do through the one that has surrendred from comitment to doing what that one wanted to do for God all along. Yet now it is not them it is god through them. There is no more to and fro. Back and forth your works are done as his are done. A little God-quill so you can rest medicine. It is the exchanged life that is spoken of here
    Love you Brother, Howard

  55. 5-2-2012

    Howard,

    Are you suggested that you have already been perfect, something that even Paul said he had not reached yet, but that he continued striving toward that and continued fighting against his own flesh? Or perhaps, again, you are focusing on certain parts of Paul’s writings while neglecting other parts? Even Paul recognized his need of being mutually encouraged (exhorted) by others.

    -Alan

  56. 5-2-2012

    Alan Knox says:

    Howard,

    Are you suggested that you have already been perfect, something that even Paul said he had not reached yet,

    No God is perfect and I am one with God as Jesus is and all who believe, if others do believe, god will show them as well. Romans 6:1-11 is very clear about being in God as one with Christ in Christs death and thus being raised back to life in god, under the new covenant. where one is so focused on this new life that there is no time for sin, this reguires for one to be dead here and now in their mind dead to the flesh no more focused on whether one will sin or not, and alive to God

    EX: God does not want you Alan or anyone to quit committing anymore adultery! any more anger! God does not want you to quit sinning period
    Think on this now go ahead and get angry it is okay, go ahead and think of you cannot do this or that and end up doing it, as Paul was very clear about in Romans 6-7 every time I wish to do good evil is present and i end up doing what I hate, therefore i declare that i serve sin with my flesh, beleive you are dead to sin, to flesh

    Now that you have marinated on this and might be angry at me for this.
    You might not want to read any further or even cut me off as the churches you speak of do, that they are not doing right.

    The answer brother the reasn god does not want you or anyone to stop sinning. YOU CAN’T, THE FIRST CHOSEN COULDN’T. AND IF ANYONE COULD THERE WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN A NEED FOR A NEW COVENANT. Are you with me now. I cannot , you cannot, noone can except Jesus and he did.
    So brother God wants you to START THE NEW LIFE. if you get busy loving your wife, you won’t have time to commit adultery. If one is busy working there is no time to steal. NOW IF YOU ARE TOO BUSY THINKING ABOUT GOD AND IT IS FINISHED, THANKING GOD, CONTINUOUSLY, no matter what situation you are in here and now, excercising faith in the finished work, knowing that god somehow will get you through it. your time is all taken up. Where is the time to sin? But we as sheep do not believe, and seek after our own righteousness through our flesh and get high and mighty, thinking we are somebody and we are not. I just know I am in christ and christ is in me. Since you say he is in you, and you are to be a teacher as you have started this maybe you need to be taught all over again Hebrews 5:11-14. I know when I read this way back, that is when the work began in me from God God’s work and others that i heard and thus checked out with the Spirit of God for confirmation. I kept the gold and threw away the dross, put it in god’s fire.
    My wish is like Paul that I almost wish that I was accursed that you all may see.
    Love you all very much, Howard

  57. 5-2-2012

    Oh and Paul could never reach or attain perfection and he gloried in that only god could through him 2 Corinthians 12:9 but it all is in 12
    His grace is sufficient. Why can’t we glory as Paul turned around and did. Because the enemy has latched onto the flesh and convinced from a child that we have good in us. WE DO NOT HAVE ANY GOOD IN OUR FLESH. and one can’t come alive to life without dying to their own flesh. the saying goes those that wish to save their life shall lose it. Those that lose their life shall save it, and God will quicken your dead life to live in him here and now
    love Howard

  58. 5-2-2012

    Howard,

    So, if you are not perfect, then there are times when you choose to follow your sinful desires (your flesh and blood) instead of following the Spirit who is within you. The commands in Scripture – as well as the teaching, exhorting, rebuking, etc. of the brothers and sisters in Christ that God places in your life – can work together to point out to you that you are not following God’s Spirit. This assumes, of course, that you are willing to consider what God might be saying to you through Scriptures or through other believers. The commands in Scripture are extremely important.

    -Alan

  59. 5-2-2012

    No I am perfect from God’s vantage point not mine, so are all that believe perfected from God’s vantage point. god gets the credit, thanks to Christ we are viewed this way after we receive the truth, the truth that sets one free.

    Alan, Sorry you are not seeing what is and has been said to you. I will ask you one Question then we can move on.
    After receiving Christ as our forgiven savior, is there any more forgiveness to be executed from God to us when and if we sin again?
    howard

  60. 5-2-2012

    Howard,

    I haven’t said anything about forgiveness. Everyone who is in Christ is forgiven. This is not about forgiveness.

    You know, Howard, you keep saying that you hope that I will hear. I have freely admitted that I am not perfect, that God is still working in me and changing me, and that he often uses the people in my life to do that work so I gladly listen to what he would say through them. Have you ever considered that I may not be the one who needs to listen? Could it be possible that you could still learn and grow and even change and that God might even use someone as backward as me to do that work?

    Just something to think about…

    -Alan

  61. 5-2-2012

    Alamn Thanks and all things are possible, and yes I see you say you are still working it out, and I am trying to help you out with that. In the fact that you are forgiven, there is no more forgiveness and you claim there is more work for you to do and in reality there is not. Matthew 5:17, John 19:30 and Hebrews 9:16 is where the believer is at forgiven and then builds from there. The problem is man is caught in building from the foundation with hay, stuble and wheat (flesh efforts). When the building is of gold, that God pitched not flesh. for some reason you keep coming from the flesh and God is trying to get you to rest in him. to rest from your works and efforts. Brother I do care for your soul immensely and I have been showing you scripture after scripture where we are to be dead to the flesh and alive to the Spirit. that we are not under commandments any longer and for some reason you are sticking to the letter of the law as the Israelites did when Jesus showed up on the scene. sin takes ocassion by the commandment any commandment. It does not matter which way you slice it or dice it or cube it a commandment is a commandment and that is what holds one in bondage. If you die to the commandments then you can be alive all the time to God, with the stress gone. Under the commandment any commandment it excites the flesh and the desires come back.
    I just love you brother and seek for you to see your freedom in christ
    Howard

  62. 5-2-2012

    he often uses the people in my life to do that work so I gladly listen to what he would say through them

    Howard

  63. 5-2-2012

    Alan and this is how God helped me to get to the point i now am showing through scripture that you are perfect the day you first believed coming from God’s vantage point. Just try to look from God’s point of view, how does God see Alan after receiving his son? That is the relief when God says my Son to you Alan, not ever forsaking you. This is the good news. I know I was afraid to let go and kept trying to obey even in the new covenant and was stubborn over the commands as you are now.
    I was so afraid to let go and just let god do all the work. I was so convinced that I had to have a part of my improving., and i was so miserable, and no one knew that except my family behind closed doors. after letting go I was still scared and as I practiced this letting go I found sin falling off I found love still stayed behind closed doors. I found life that is today consistent from letting go and letting God
    thanks for listening Howard

  64. 5-2-2012

    Howard,

    You said, “I see you say you are still working it out, and I am trying to help you out with that…” And, I’m trying to help you as well.

    I answered a question from you earlier, but you left a question unanswered a few posts ago. So, I’ll ask it again.

    The Holy Spirit produces love in God’s children. But, when writing to people who were indwelled by the Holy Spirit and who had already been forgiven by Jesus Christ, almost every author of the New Testament felt it necessary to command (they were verbal commands whether you like it or not) to “Love one another.” Why did they command their readers to love one another if God was creating that love in them through his Spirit and commands were not necessary?

    -Alan

  65. 5-2-2012

    Oh Alan and please can you answer the question is there any more forgiveness to be executed from God to anyone after receiving the forgivenss from Jesus’s finished work of the cross?
    HANKS Howard

  66. 5-2-2012

    Alan when one sees the love of God, there is no need for commands. Because you love when you know you are loved by the creator of all. I do not need commands to keep me in line, and neither do the believers when they see the love of god.
    Howard

  67. 5-2-2012

    And, I’m trying to help you as well.

    So lets both pray about what each other is saying let god do the judging for I am not interested in pulling out swords, which is what it seems to be leading to. You and I are just not seeing what the other is saying, yet I am sure it is all in love from you, and from me as well. And iron is not sharpening iron here. So let’ et it be, and agree to disagree
    Thanks howard

  68. 5-2-2012

    Howard,

    I answered your question: I (and everyone who is in Christ) am already forgiven. I’m not seeking additional forgiveness. This conversation (at least on my part) has nothing to do with forgiveness. I was assuming that you were not seeking additional forgiveness either.

    You said, “I do not need commands to keep me in line, and neither do the believers when they see the love of god.” So, was Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (quoting Jesus), Paul, Peter, and James wrong to write the command to love one another to people who already knew the love of God?

    You can’t have it both ways, Howard. You can’t quote the Scriptures when it fits what you want it to say, then leave out the parts that don’t fit. Paul wrote we are free of the law (and like I said before, I’m not talking about the law), and he wrote that we are free in Christ, and he also wrote commands, such as, “Love one another.” It’s clear in Scripture.

    So, was Paul wrong to write that command to people who were already in Christ, already indwelled by the Spirit?

    -Alan

  69. 5-3-2012

    So, was Paul wrong to write that command to people who were already in Christ, already indwelled by the Spirit?

    -Alan
    This is not a command to me. It is to you. so Let’s just let it be and move on.
    Howard

  70. 5-3-2012

    Howard,

    It helps to see that your argument is not with me, but with the authors of the New Testament and the commands that they wrote. It seems inconsistent for you to accept the statements that they made as applying to you, but not the commands.

    “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 ESV)

    -Alan

  71. 5-3-2012

    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 ESV)

    -Alan

    Yes this I understand, to trust God so that I will not use the flesh for an opportunity to sin. I found this the best way to avoid the flesh, and be dead to it. But for some reason when any command came I was right back in the flesh. thank you for this verse, this straightens me out, and I see what you are reading in the interpretation. I brother, just desire to be in him always (Christ that is)
    Howard

  72. 5-3-2012

    Thanks Alan again

    Amazing how prayer can straighten things out, thank you I am elated over the whole conversation for I just took a learniing again, thank God
    God never sceases to amaze me, the Spirit makes no mistakes.
    Howard