Sunday, July 15, 2012


In his book Pure Grace, Pastor Clark Whitten makes a number of strong statements against what he calls “behavior modification,” and I find much important truth in what he has to say:

Christians are way too conscious of sin and way too unconscious of God’s grace. Listen, Jesus did not die to modify your behavior! He could have achieved behavior modification in any number of ways that wouldn’t have cost Him His life. Jesus went to the cross taking the sins of the world upon Himself 
Religion— not real Christianity— is and always has been in the behavior modification and sin management business. It is so lucrative and so firmly entrenched in the Church that it will take a second Great Reformation and a revelation of no less importance than Luther’s to correct this great and spiritually murderous lie.
This Good News reveals the “excellencies” of Christ and is much more attractive than the gospel of behavior modification that legalists proclaim.
If behavior modification is the goal, and it is with all legalists, then repentance is viewed as the primary method of accomplishing it.
I am convinced most pastors and leaders do not have evil intentions nor impure motives toward their people; however, they are deceived and have believed the lie of the enemy that behavior modification is the goal God has set before them in ministry.
The legalistic behavior modification gurus say to those who have failed to keep the rules, “go and sin no more and we won’t condemn you.” Jesus says, “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more.” He knew the power of love and its ability to transform a human heart!
Without a doubt, many of God’s people live their whole lives with very little understanding of the Father’s incredible love, very little understanding of the message of grace, very little understanding of the power of the blood of Jesus, and very little understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, they live under a cloud of condemnation and frustration, always feeling that they are falling short and never feeling fully accepted by God. How they need a life-transforming revelation of the love and grace and goodness of the Lord! How they need to take hold of their standing as sons and daughters of God!

Unfortunately, there are some statements that Pastor Whitten has made that are easily misunderstood (or, worse still, actually overstated or even wrong),* and now many believers are throwing out whole portions of New Testament Scripture because of the so-called new grace reformation. It has gotten to the point that the moment you share a biblical exhortation with them, they cry out, “I’m not into behavior modification!” I’m encountering this more and more every day, and the tone of the “grace” people is becoming more shrill and harsh by the hour.

Just tonight, someone posted this on my Facebook page: “Ishmael will always mock Isaac and the persecution will get even more intense as grace is poured out and thus overtakes law-living. It’s coming and I’m ready in Him. I will be John (God’s grace) and take in more of His love for me as the law-living folks attempt to self-sanctify and focus on their love for Him like Peter (stone). I don’t expect ‘law-abiding’ folk to get this post any more than they got my last one [which, by the way, was not much better than this one, and to which I gently replied]. Law-living folk are confounded by sin even today as the Pharisee’s were back in Jesus’s day. Jesus, however, was confounded by your unbelief, that will never change.”

How remarkable. If you differ with this “new revelation” of grace, you are Ishmael, persecuting Isaac; you are a “law-living” person who is attempting “self-sanctification” and who is “confounded by sin,” akin to those terrible Pharisees. You are even confounding Jesus “by your unbelief.” Yes, in this harsh and judgmental post, even Peter is a bad guy, and his name, “rock,” given to him by Jesus, becomes something negative (hard like stone). Is there no limit to how far this will go?

To be sure, Jesus did not die so we would become nicer people, or so we wouldn’t tell as many lies, or so we would think less lustful thoughts, or so we would dress more modestly. Put another way, Jesus did not die to put nice make up on a corpse. All of us were dead in our sins, all of us had no hope of salvation outside of Him, and in a million billion lifetimes, we could have never improved ourselves enough to be accepted by a perfect and holy God. And as believers, on our very best day, compared to the perfect love and holiness and purity of the Lord, we fall infinitely short.

It is Jesus who makes us righteous by His blood and Jesus who stands to defend us against accusation. It is Jesus “who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1Cor 1:30). Really, it is almost impossible to express the breadth and power of these glorious truths:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Rom 8:31-34)
These truths are the foundation of my spiritual life, and I rest in God’s love and goodness every day of my life. And because of His grace, I want to serve Him all the more faithfully. At the same time, as His child, I have no problem with “behavior modification.” In fact, the Lord calls for it constantly throughout the New Testament, with the help of His indwelling Spirit.

Let’s start with Jesus (and I’ll just cite one passage each time; otherwise, this article would be dozens of pages long):
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matt 5:29-30)
Sounds like behavior modification to me!

What about Paul?
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:28-32)
Sounds like behavior modification to me!

What about Jacob (James)?
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (Jam 4:1-10)
Sounds like behavior modification to me!

What about Peter?
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Pet 1:13-19)
Sounds like behavior modification to me!

What about John?
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:6-9)
And since we started with Jesus, we’ll end with Jesus, this time not from the Gospels but from Revelation:
[To the congregation in Ephesus:] I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Rev 2:2-5)
And remember: I could have quoted many more passages from the New Testament, all addressed to believers. (The Sermon on the Mount, where the first quote came from, was addressed to the Lord’s disciples too; see Matt 5:1-2.) But just to illustrate the point, here’s one more wonderful passage from Paul (please take time to read it through):
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Col 3:1-14)
This is “behavior modification” from first to last: As those whose lives are now hidden with Jesus the Messiah in God, we are to put to death various sins of the flesh (“sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”); we are to put away other sins (“anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk”); we are not to “lie to one another”; we are to put on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” along with forbearance and forgiveness; and we are to crown this all with “love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

To be perfectly clear, we do not tell a sinner to become good in order to be saved; we do not tell a believer that he or she must reach a certain level of perfection before God will accept them; and we do not try to change ourselves in our own power or might. Rather, as born-again, Spirit-indwelt, grace-empowered children of God, we take hold of the Father’s provision, we renew our minds (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23), we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6), we “find out what pleases the Lord” (Eph 5:10), and we seek to glorify Him with our thoughts, with our words, and with our deeds, “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1; once more, this is just the tiniest sampling of what could be quoted).

The bottom line is that Jesus Himself taught that, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” and, “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to Him” (John 14:15, 21).

And so, when our friends share God’s Word with us and remind us of His holy standards and commandments, let’s not say, “Don’t throw that behavior modification stuff on me! I’m not coming under your legalistic bondage! You won’t throw your self-sanctifying judgment my way!” Instead, let’s say, “Lord, how I love You and Your Word! I have come to do Your will, Father, and Your truth is written on my heart.”

* Without getting into detail here, I find troubling Pastor Whitten’s unqualified statement that “behavior modification and sin management business” is “so lucrative,” as if those of us who preach holiness and purity do it for the money (right!). Pastor Whitten is also guilty of painting with too broad of a brush, speaking of “the gospel of behavior modification that legalists proclaim,” as if those calling on believers to live according to the Word are legalists or, to quote another one of his terms, “legalistic behavior modification gurus.” Based on the verses quoted in this article, that would make Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John “legalistic behavior modification gurus”! And even though Pastor Whitten states that he is “convinced most pastors and leaders do not have evil intentions nor impure motives toward their people,” he still claims that “they are deceived and have believed the lie of the enemy that behavior modification is the goal God has set before them in ministry” – unless, of course, they have received this new revelation of “pure grace” that has been withheld from the Church for almost 2,000 years.

It’s easy to see how dangerous these kinds of statements can be, especially in the hands of zealous believers who have been helped by the message of grace and who can turn all too easily on their “unenlightened” brothers and sisters, accusing the vast majority of pastors and leaders of being “deceived” and believing “the lie of the enemy.” I want to believe that this is not what Pastor Whitten meant, and I believe he would be horrified to see how his quotes are being used, but when you make such broad, unqualified statements, the damage is already done.


  1. Modify not the behaviour of others, lest they decide to modify yours.

  2. Zoe, this is written for those of us who are followers of Jesus, to look at our own lives, not to judge or attack others. Just FYI!

    1. Well said, Dr. Brown!

  3. Thank you Dr Brown, I really appreciate this. I find it interesting that some people want to call themselves Christian, yet openly refuse to submit to God's authority. I come before him as a wretched sinner, thankful to Him on a daily basis for his grace and mercy, asking forgiveness for my failures and asking for strength to grow in Him. No evidence of change is evidence of no change.

  4. Dr. Brown,

    I haven't read the book you refer to or ever heard of the author outside discussions on your FB. With that said, I'm not here to be an apologist for the ideas in the book or the author.

    But I have some questions about your arguments (and am asking them here as it seems less likely to devolve as FB discussions do).

    In your first example, from Jesus in Matt 5:29-30, is this really behavior modification? It doesn't sound like it to me. Throughout this passage of the sermon on the mount, Jesus makes statements of "you have heard it was said (or you say, or it is written)... but I say...". For example, "don't commit adultery", but i say if you lust, it's the same thing. "don't murder" but I say don't be angry or say you fool. "you can divorce with certificate" but i say you can't divorce (except...). "Don't break your oaths" but I say don't take an oath at all. In each of these instances Jesus is taking the "attainable" behavior of the Law and making it unattainable to show the absolute requirement for His sacrifice in order to attain righteousness. He prefaces all of this by saying "I've come to fulfill the law." He's saying throughout this passage - you can't fulfill the law, and that is why I came. And if you think you are fulfilling it, I'm going to raise all the stakes until you can't fulfill it. So in this context, the admonition to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand is not something Jesus is advocating. It is hyperbole spoken to people who think they can fulfill the law apart from Him. If they want to continue to pursue that course it's going to involve self-mutilation to stop themselves from breaking the law. Does that really sound like behavior modification to you? It sounds to me like it's arguing for the necessity of Jesus' sacrifice.

    1. Doug,

      Yes, we all understand the hyperbole (figures of speech are self-evident), but all of us should be practicing Jesus' words in our own lives, as believers who have been transformed by His sacrifice, and His words call for a radical change in our behavior. I know people who changed their jobs because they continually fell into sin because of their environment or who got rid of their TV's or computers because they could not find a disciplined way to be around these things, and they are now free and blessed and whole.

      And even if you want to dismiss my first example (which, obviously, I do not believe should be dismissed in the context of this article), just look at the other verses, especially the admonitions of Paul. Behavior modification indeed!

    2. Doug,
      It is my understanding that when Jesus used the examples of "you heard but I say", it wasn't necessarily to show the absolute requirement for His sacrifice. And it was nothing new that He taught either.Solomon warned of lusting after beauty in Proverbs 4. And there are examples for the rest. Also, I have a hard time with the concept of Jesus words being "unattainable". Are you saying that it's impossible for you to not look at a woman with lust? Is it impossible to not divorce your wife? Is it impossible to not say with your tongue you fool? No, Jesus took the behaviors to the root of their cause which is in the heart first. If you control and master your heart first, then your outward behavior will adjust. God said to Cain "Sin lies at your door and it's desire is for you but you must master it."
      My Friend, not everything Jesus said was to show everybody how utterly lost and sinful we are. Jesus showed our need to be alive in Him and to lead holy righteous lives. This is my example: Let's say you have a friend who invites you over to dinner at his house with a bunch of other friends. His parents make a wonderful dinner. You arrive and are welcomed into their home as a guest of their son.You sit at the dinner table and begin to use foul language. You curse the father and disrespect the mother. You steal the dinnerware. You break the dishes and begin to beat the other guests. Have you honored the father of the house? How long should the father allow you to stay in the house? Does not the father have the right to demand the appropriate conduct of those whom he has so graciously allowed into his home? How can we expect to go into the Fathers home and act any way we feel like acting? My father had rules to live by in his home and I'm sure your father had rules you had to live by in his home. So why do we think that it's such a foreign concept that "The Father" would have standards by which we also live?

    3. Well stated Shani. I await Dr. Brown's reply.

  5. Likewise, your final passage from Jesus to the Church at Ephesus doesn't strike me as behavior modification. Rather, he acknowledges all the good works they are doing and how circumspect they are regarding doctrine but faults them for forgetting their first love. That is, it sounds like an argument that all the behavior modification is pointless without first and foremost loving Him. He goes so far to say that if they don't repent from this lack of love for Him he would remove them from their position, regardless of their good behavior. Repent and do the works you did at first are clearly not the works He acknowledges them for (piety and toil). It reads to me as "change your mind about what's important... it isn't your works, or your piety... it's me and loving me. Do the works of love and worship you did at first. If you keep relying on your piety and your toil and good works, you don't need me and I won't have you." So the behavior modification I read in this is not to increase in your adherence to acts of holiness but to modify your behavior to love Jesus more.

    I also question your statement, that sounds almost mocking (unless I'm reading it completely wrong), regarding a new revelation that has been withheld from the Church for almost 2,000 years. Wasn't Marin Luther's revelation of Salvation by Faith a revelation that was either withheld or suppressed by the church for some 1500 years? Is a theological or doctrinal revelation disqualified just because of its apparent recency? It sounds just a little too defensive as I read it. Again, I could be misreading that.

    As I mentioned on FB, the posts you've received and some of the verbiage that Whitten uses seems needlessly inflammatory and downright contradictory ("my sin is covered by grace, your doctrinal belief isn't"). This is terribly unfortunate because it damages a message that, at its core, has truth to it. Sadly, instead of taking advantage of grace to live freely for God in deeper love and appreciation for the gift of salvation, people are using this "revelation" to beat others over the head who may have not yet had the "revelation" and as license to sin. How pointless.

    1. Doug,

      I love God's grace and revel in it all the time (but surely not fully enough), and it's a shame, as you say, that the rhetoric of the "new" message is actually destructive and, in the end, obscures the point.

      As for Ephesus, yes, the Lord called for a modification in behavior by saying, "Do the works you did at first." Obviously, something had slipped, not just in attitude but in deeds, and going back to the old ways would restore the old relationship. I could have quoted some of the other texts in Rev 2-3 but used this one for this specific reason.

      As for my dismissal of the notion that Pastor Whitten and a few others now have "it" -- Pastor Whitten wrote about how Luther and Calvin and basically everyone since have gotten this wrong -- yes, I take real issue with that, especially when: 1) Nothing good that's being said is new and nothing new that's being said is good. 2) Those whom Pastor Whitten dismisses have exegeted the key texts in depth, are fully aware of the theological implications, but simply reject his extreme conclusions. Otherwise, as I said, they agree and he's saying nothing new. 3) A tree can be judged by its fruit, and while some speak of great liberation, which should always happen when grace is preached with any biblical emphasis, the level of judgmentalism and outright rejection of the call to holiness is troubling indeed.

      Interestingly, I've been hesitant to write too much on this, feeling a strong burden to write but waiting and praying and examining my heart and not wanting to sound self-righteous or holier than thou, so I'll certainly continue to search my heart on this and look for any harshness or reactionary tone.

      Thanks, as always, for your comments.

  6. Dr. Brown,
    Thank you for this calm,gentle, hermeneutically robust and (hopefully) recalibrating piece. I HAVE read the book in question, heard Pastor Whitten and several of his followers who espouse his "reforming" theology, and been deeply involved in many discussions of this "new reformation against legalism" that they are calling for.

    I am also leader of one of the many ministries that have withdrawn in protest from the organization that Pastor Whitten serves as chaiman of the board of directors.

    The greatest danger I see is in assuring people that, once you have prayed the Sinner's Prayer, you never, ever, ever have to ask forgiveness from God again. Also, guaranteeing people who are celebrating serial, unrepentant lifestyles of sin that they are Christians - simply because they claim they are - and that they wil be with the saved in heaven one day is worse than spiritual malp[ractice: it is spiritual abuse.

    1. Yes, you are 100% right on this. If you and I have not been in touch previously, could you send me a note with more information about your ministry to Thanks! If you're the gentleman with whom I've been in recent interaction about these issues, all clear.

  7. Thanks for writing on this, Dr. Brown. I lead a ministry in Sydney for people with unwanted homosexuality (, and the stuff that Whitten has written (pardon the rhyming metre) is very disturbing. It minimises God's holiness, the responsibility of believers, and sends people to hell.

    A friend of mine quoted Rev 3:5 to me today (KJV), which says, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels". So membership of the Kingdom is predicated on OBEDIENCE and overcoming, not merely believing. Interesting food for thought.

  8. [Revised]Just as Dr. Brown justifies the term “behavioral modification” scripturally, we can justify the term “OBEDIENCE” (which many advocates of the “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED” doctrine label as “legalism.”)
    First and foremost the words of Jesus, Matt. 7: [21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matt. 28: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
    The words of Peter, Acts 5: [32] And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
    And words from Hebrews (about Jesus) 5: [9] And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
    Also Heb. 10: [36] For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

  9. I think John 1:17 is a defining verse in this respect. Moses had the law, Jesus came full of "grace AND truth". So the law is not supplanted by grace, bur by grace AND truth.

    Hallmark of healthy Christian ministry is that it is full of grace and truth. Unfortunately many people/churches operate on the principle of "grace OR truth". A lot of churches are full of truth, but seriously lacking in grace. And now we also see a lot of churches and people starting to operate purely out of grace and seriously lacking on truth.

    Only if a passion for "pure grace" is combined with an equal passion for "pure truth" can we speak of a ministry that that is truly in the spirit of Jesus.

    1. The law is perfect but it cannot make you perfect. No one can be saved by keeping the law. According to John 1:17, truth is on the part of Grace not the law. The Grace of God is, to me, his truth as well.
      New Living Translation (©2007)
      "For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace." Receiving God's Grace is not a license to sin. The law demands but Grace supplies. Grace empowers a believer to overcome sin and enables a believer to live in holiness. The Grace of God is for behavior transformation and not modification. Understanding of God's grace is what makes Christianity different from all other religions. All religions have their dos and donts. Grace provides and religion (law) demands something that a person won't be able to do.

  10. I thoroughly agree that the proponents of "once saved, always saved" err on the side of grace, but fail to see that they are generally failing to see that it is true that our Savior tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments," ( John 14:15)

  11. Dr. Brown,
    As an 81 year old semi-retired physician in Charlotte and a member of the Shiloh Truelight Church, I have really appreciated being able to listen to your radio programs on Truth Radio while I am going to my office in the afternoon when I go to my part-time office in Mint Hill.
    I thoroughly agree with your strong stance about the pitfalls of the "Once Saved; Always Saved" doctrine.
    If you can spare a few minutes, I would like to share with you a message I posted on a City Data Forum about 2 months ago.
    When I woke up earlier than usual this morning, I had been dreaming about people who had been discussing the topic of death. Since I am 81 years old, the thought went through my mind that this was an important topic for me to be thinking about. I thought about the millions of people who have been convinced that if they believe on Jesus Christ as being the Son of God, they are sure of having been born again and that they will go to heaven when they die. The words of Jesus appear to confirm this belief in John 10: [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [28] And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    I heard a highly respected Protestant preacher say recently that if we had ever believed in Jesus Christ as being the son of God, we can be assured that we have eternal life and that He has saved us from all our sins, past , present, AND FUTURE' But the words in Revelation 21:27 stuck in my mind: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” And our Savior said in Matt. 10: [22] And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. And in John 8: [31] If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
    Jesus said in John 14: [15] If ye love me, keep my commandments. And St. John said in 1John:2: [4] He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
    St. Peter said in Acts 5: [32] And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. Paul said further in Rom. 8: [7] The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
    So what do we base our hope of eternal life on unless we have truly repented and have been given the Holy Spirit, having a mind to obey our Lord and Savior, and then being faithful unto death (Rev. 2: [10] Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.)
    Jesus promised in Matt. 5: [6] Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they SHALL be filled. And in Matt. 7: [7] Ask, and it SHALL be given you; seek, and ye SHALL find; knock, and it SHALL be opened unto you. And in Luke 11: [13] If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more SHALL your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
    How do we reconcile these scriptures with the "Once saved, always saved" doctrine?

    Any comments you might have, would be greatly appreciated!
    Bob Prince

  12. Dr. Brown, thank God for your strong voice of Truth.
    Margaret Robinson

  13. A read of Changes that Heal, by Cloud/Townsend, renders the grace argument alone as off balance regarding the heart of needed change among the faithful. Truth tempers grace and grace truth, as the Lord lived it. To change hearts the kind of spirit of confession of personal lack of the original 12 step program leads to the eventual step of rendering the powerlessness to change the heart by turning over self to God Himself. Once that transaction is made no armchair ideal holds continuously as to self conduct built on grace alone, for the conviction involved of yielding the soul to the Father continues by truth.

    Jesus brought both realities of being side by side into His state of being or more excellent 'Way'. Just so, to hear the Gospel to the place of conversion of the heart does yield first to grace being the gate that next leads to continuing in His Words of truth which releases souls to trust and obey God as standard bearer of love and accountability (for the conveyance of love's pure and excellent intentions to reconcile human life to God's being).

    How much press is given to reconciliation instead of controversy and implied perfectionism as this world's self contradictory standards for its unclear beauty contest on acceptance? How do grace and truth apply to Christ achieving 'acceptance in the beloved' for everyman might be the greater question one should ask after conversion of the soul? --JH