What is Carnality? Part 1 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #20)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/26114/220932-what-is-carnality-part-1-understanding-god-s-great-salvation-20.mp3]

The Bible says in Hebrews 7:25: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

No Old Testament priest ever functioned in this permanent way, since all were subject to death. But the permanent priesthood of Jesus gives Him the capacity to carry His saving work to completion. When the writer asserted that He is able to save completely, he continued to have in mind the salvation- inheritance first referred to in Hebrews 1:14. The readers were to hold fast to their professions of faith and to continue numbering themselves among those who come to God through Him, knowing that He can see them through every trial and difficulty right to the end of the road because He always lives to intercede for them. In saying this, the author reverted again to a truth he had already enunciated where he had invited the readers to avail themselves boldly of the mercy and grace accessible to them through Jesus’ priesthood. As they did so, they would find that their Captain and High Priest could get the job done! He could lead them victoriously into glory. In this way He saves “completely.”

Today’s quote is from Samuel Rutherford. He said: “See that you buy the field where the Pearl is; sell all, and make a purchase of salvation. Think it not easy: for it is a steep ascent to eternal glory: many are lying dead by the way, slain with security.”

Our topic today is titled “What is Carnality? (Part 1)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

Can a born-again Christian be carnal? Or is carnality something that describes an unsaved person? Or can carnality describe both Christian and nonbeliever?

Before discussing these crucial questions, it may help to clear the air on two matters.

Some think that those who teach that Christians can be carnal also must logically conclude that some believers can go through life without ever bearing fruit of any kind. In other words, they think that the teaching about carnality includes the ideas that carnality can be lifelong and so total that carnal believers will never bear any fruit and yet be genuinely saved. But that is not true, for all believers will bear fruit, some thirty-, some sixty-, some one hundred-fold. Otherwise, they do not possess the new life.

Those who hold to the teaching that Christians can be carnal sometimes say that the lordship/discipleship/mastery view cannot include any concept of carnality. They reason that if Christ is Lord of life, then logically no carnality can coexist in that life. But obviously, committed Christians—whenever that commitment was made—disobey and become carnal (or rebellious, or backslidden, or whatever you wish to label them). Lordship advocates recognize that. Nevertheless, some who hold to a lordship position prefer to say that, although Christians can do carnal things, there is no such thing as a carnal Christian.

THE MEANING OF CARNALITY

What is carnality? According to the Greek dictionary, the word carnal means to have the nature and characteristics of the flesh (or more simply, it means “fleshly”). What, then, is the flesh? In the Scriptures, sometimes it refers to the whole material part of man, and, based on this meaning, carnal sometimes relates to material things like money or to the opposite of our weapons of spiritual warfare. But the word fleshly also has a metaphorical sense when it refers to our disposition to sin and to oppose or omit God in our lives. The flesh is characterized by works that include lusts and passions; it can enslave; and in it is nothing good. Based on this meaning of the word flesh, to be carnal means to be characterized by things that belong to the unsaved life.

Do we have at least a tentative answer to the questions posed about carnality? If carnality refers to that disposition or life principle of the unregenerate life, then obviously an unsaved person may be said to be carnal or carnally minded. But cannot believers also exhibit those same traits? If so, then a believer can, under some circumstances, be labeled carnal. If we can first understand what carnality is, then we are in a better position to answer the question, “To whom can the term be applied?”

Fruitful or Faithless? Part 7 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #19)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/26114/219020-fruitful-or-faithless-part-7-understanding-god-s-great-salvation-19.mp3]

The Bible says in Romans 1:17: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

The theme of Romans is expressed in the phrase, “a righteousness from God is revealed.” The subjective genitive identifies this as a righteousness that God provides for people on the basis of and in response to faith in the gospel. Such a righteousness is totally unachievable by human efforts. This righteousness is not God’s personal attribute, however, since it comes “from God,” it is consistent with His nature and standard. A.T. Robertson happily calls it “a God kind of righteousness.” In response to faith this righteousness is imputed by God in justification and imparted progressively in regeneration and sanctification, culminating in glorification when standing and state become identical. “Righteousness” and “justify,” though seemingly unrelated in English, are related in Greek. Paul used the noun “righteousness” many times in his epistles, including 28 times in Romans. And Paul used the Greek verb “justify” 15 times in Romans. To justify a person is to declare him forensically (legally) righteous. Paul’s closing words, “The righteous will live by faith,” are a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4, also quoted in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. As a result of faith in Christ, a person is declared “righteous” and is given eternal life. What a marvelous work of God!

Today’s quote is from Oswald Chambers. He said: “If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality.”

Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 7)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

The two things involved in making our lives more fruitful are pruning and abiding. On our last broadcast we talked about pruning. Today, we are going to talk about abiding.

What about the branches that are bearing more fruit? The Father is not finished or satisfied with them. He longs that they bear much fruit, and the path to that goal is abiding or remaining in Christ.

John 15:4-8 says: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

What does it mean to abide in Christ? In simplest terms, it means to keep His commandments. Such a definition makes sense, for the more we obey Him the more we remain in Him. When we disobey, we remove rather than remain. The one who keeps God’s Word will bear much fruit simply because he is doing God’s will as he comes to learn it from the Word.

Abiding brings another benefit: answered prayer. Again this makes sense, for the one who keeps God’s Word knows how best to pray in the will of God; and, of course, such prayers are answered. Abiding, asking and receiving, and bearing much fruit prove that we are His disciples. As far as this passage is concerned, disciples are those who have an intimate relationship and mature experience with the Lord in whom they abide. This discipleship is far more than simply being willing to do God’s will; it is doing it and continuing to do it.

Progression marks this passage — no fruit, fruit, more fruit, much fruit. But progression has its opposite: retrogression. Obviously, believers can retrogress from bearing fruit. Very fruitful believers might retrogress to bearing less fruit, and presumably they may even slide back to a fruitless condition for some period of time. And this without losing their salvation or being told that they never had it in the first place. Disobedience to God’s commandments would certainly result in retreat just as obedience brings advance. John 15:6 contains a strong warning against disobedience (not abiding in Christ) and the barrenness that results. Such believers lose further opportunities to bear fruit. Their branch withers, and if the barrenness continues unchanged, then at the judgment seat of Christ they will not receive rewards. (In my opinion the last part of verse 6 refers to that coming judgment.) At what point in life further opportunities are lost to the disobedient believer the Lord does not say, but clearly at some point it can happen.

Barrenness and fruitfulness may both be a believer’s experience. And fruit, the Lord said on another occasion, is produced in varying amounts: thirty-, sixty-, or one hundredfold. If the character traits of 2 Peter 1:5-7 are present, then we will not be unfruitful. If they are absent, then we are unfruitful.

And could not that condition continue for some time? Remember, even the lordship/discipleship/mastery view acknowledges that it can continue for “a moment.” If some spiritual fruits are present and some absent, then we can indeed be more fruitful at one time and less fruitful at another. Notice too, according to 2 Peter 1:5, that we supply these traits in our faith. In other words, faith is already assumed to be present; then we supply these additional characteristics. Barrenness does not have to be our experience; fruitfulness, by the grace of God, can and will be. Every Christian will bear fruit. Somewhere, sometime, somehow.

Fruitful or Faithless? Part 6 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #18)

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:3-6: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

To further buttress his argument Paul cited the commonly accepted teaching about God and His work in Christ. Verses 5-6 may represent a fragment of a familiar confession of the first century. In any case, Paul cited these unquestioned truths of the gospel: (1) There is only one God. (2) There is only one way for men to approach Him — through the Man who was God in the flesh, Christ Jesus. (3) This Jesus gave Himself up to die on the cross as a ransom for the human race. This act is a clear testimony, offered at just the right time, of God’s desire to save all men.

Today’s quote is from Martin Luther. He said: “If ever a monk could get to heaven through monastic discipline, I was that monk. And yet my conscience would not give me certainty. I always doubted and said, ‘You didn’t do that right. You weren’t contrite enough. You left that out of your confession.’ The more I tried to remedy an uncertain, weak, and troubled conscience with human traditions, the more I daily found it more uncertain, weaker, and more troubled.”

Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 6)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

How can our lives be made more fruitful?

Two answers emerge from our Lord’s teaching on fruit-bearing in John 15:1–17. He told His disciples (Judas already having left the group) that He had appointed them to go and bear fruit, and in the preceding conversation He told them how to do that.

The two things involved are pruning and abiding.Those who are already bearing fruit need pruning in order to bear more fruit, and those who are bearing more fruit need to abide in order to bear much fruit.

PRUNING

First the Lord said that the vinedresser (God the Father) does something to those who are fruitless. Are these people genuine believers or professing believers? Many understand them to be professing believers who outwardly associate with the church but who have never personally received the Savior. Verse 6 would seem to support this view if one believes in eternal security. In other words, since true believers are eternally secure, the branches that are taken away or are cast into the fire must be professing believers since true ones cannot lose their salvation. If one does not believe in security, then these can be true believers who lose their salvation.

But others see fruitless believers as true believers since they are said to be in Christ, and since the Lord was talking only to the eleven disciples, Judas having departed the others. If this is the case, then what does the vinedresser do to fruitless Christians? He cuts them off or He lifts them up (the verb may be translated either way). If we are to understand that He cuts them off, then this means that He removes them from the earth through physical death. It is a warning similar to the one in verse 6.

If we understand the verb to mean that He lifts fruitless believers up, then the idea is that God encourages the fruitless person to bear fruit by exposing him or her to the sunshine of life.

To conserve moisture in a dry land, vines were allowed to run on the ground until the blossoms began to appear. It was then necessary for the gardener to lift the vines off the ground so that the blossoms could germinate. Vines were lifted up either on sticks or on stones. The vines thus were put in a place where they could produce fruit.

So if these are fruitless believers, then either the gardener removes them in judgment or, more likely, in my opinion, He lifts them up in blessing and guidance, positioning them so that they can bear fruit.

But what about the branches that are bearing fruit? Those He prunes in order that they may bear more fruit. In pruning, the wise and loving vinedresser removes all useless things that would sap the strength of the branch and keep it from bearing more fruit. This may involve removing from our lives unhelpful things, useless things, and harmful things. It could include discipline, physical limitations, material losses, family losses, and unjustified persecution. Whatever it takes, our Father wisely does in order that we may bear more fruit.

These processes of pruning or cleansing come because of the Word of our Lord. The disciples had already experienced this but, like others who would come after them, they would continue to be cleansed. The Word is inseparably linked to pruning and cleansing.