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Faith and the faith "reflex" action.

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by dms1972, Sep 23, 2021.

  1. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

    I would like some scriptural help on this matter.

    My studies of theology suggest to me there are doctrines which are taught that need joined up properly, and it is possible that christians are sometimes using different terms to talk about the same things.

    When I read Hebrews in the Bible there is a chapter that talks about entering God's Rest. But when I read some christian writers, some of them talk about absolute surrender.

    Years ago, my pastor at that time, when I visited him because i was going through a period of depression, gave me a little booklet that was about living the christian life, in it the writer warned about christian teachings that perhaps some would refer to a sort of 'higher life' teaching. I think the writer was refering to a sort of higher life teaching that was extreme, not to all higher-life teachings. Higher-life properly understood, seems to me just refers to christian maturity, but its how its taught that can be problematic.

    John Wesley, near the end of his life, seemed to go back on some of his earlier teaching about christian perfection.

    So I want to ask about Faith and our part in believing. That we cannot merit Grace I think is agreed by most christians.

    Some of my reading suggests there are two aspects to faith, I don't know if its correct to refer to one aspect as a 'reflex action', but I have seen something like that in some teachings (eg Robert Theime Jr, a dispensationalist preacher).

    So does the Bible teach faith as having two dimensions or aspects linked to each other, and if so in what way does it teach this? (please give scripture references)
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    In Hebrews 3-4, they did not enter into God's rest because of their disobedience, and in 4:11, we should strive to enter into that rest so that no one will fall away by the same sort of disobedience. In Jeremiah 6:16-19 and Matthew 11:28-30, God's law is described as the good way where we will find rest for our souls, so entering into God's rest is about surrendering to God's will.

    I think that the booklet might have been referring to what is called a prosperity gospel. People tend to what to claim God's blessing and promises without doing what God said is the way to be blessed or without meeting the conditions for those promises.

    To use an analogy, if a professional musician were to teach me how to play an instrument as a gift to me, then their lessons themselves would be the content of their gift, and participating in them though faith would be doing nothing to merit their gift, but rather that would be the way to receive it, and our salvation is the same sort of gift where we are receiving lessons for how to overcome sin. In Titus 2:11-14, our salvation is described as being trained by grace to do what is godly righteous and good and to renounce doing what is ungodly, so God graciously teaching us to obey His laws for how to do that is itself part of the content of His gift of salvation. In Psalms 119:29-30, David wanted to put false ways far from him, for God to be gracious to him by teaching him to obey His law, and he chose the way of faithfulness, so those has always be the only way of salvation by grace through faith. In Romans 1:5, we have received grace in order to bring about the obedience of faith.

    In regard to faith as a reflex action, I would have known more about that doctrine.
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  3. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

    United States
    I think Soyeong's answer is helpful above, and notice that at the end of Hebrews 3 we read:

    18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

    Those that did disobey in that time before were also ones who did not believe.

    So, listen to Christ about this rest:

    28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
    --Matthew ch 11

    He says to us for that rest to "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

    His yoke is easy, in that with faith, we can follow Him, beginning to do as He says to us we are to do, the good works of love God has prepared (made possible through faith) for us (Ephesians 2:10).
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  4. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Simul Justus et Peccator Supporter

    United States
    Hello @dms1972, here's an article for you to consider. It talks about what the "Higher Life" movement is, including what it believes to be its good points and its problems. I agree with what the article has to say about it (just FYI).

    What is the Keswick (Higher Life) movement, and is it biblical?

    The Keswick movement, also called the Higher Life movement, is a theological movement that originated in England in the early 19th century. It was heavily influenced by the teachings of
    John Wesley, John William Fletcher, and Adam Clarke. Since 1875 promoters have organized the annual Keswick Convention. Various Christian leaders have been involved in the Keswick Convention through the years, including missionaries Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael, devotional writer Oswald Chambers, and evangelist Billy Graham.

    Essentially, Keswick theology teaches that the Christian life consists of two primary crises (or major turning points): justification and sanctification, both of which happen at different times in the life of the believer. After salvation one must have another encounter with the Spirit; otherwise, he or she will not progress into holiness or the “deeper” things of God. This second encounter with the Spirit, in Keswick terminology, is called “entire sanctification,” “the second blessing,” or “the second touch.” This emphasis on a second, post-salvation experience corresponds with the Pentecostal idea of the “baptism” of the Spirit. Some Keswick teachers would even say that sinless perfection is possible after one receives the “second blessing.”

    Although it is true that both justification (i.e., getting saved) and sanctification (i.e., becoming more like Christ) are vital aspects of the Christian life, overemphasizing the distinction between them tends to produce two different “classes” of Christian—those who are not being sanctified and those who are being sanctified. Moreover, according to Keswick theology, we can decide which camp we belong in, and the initiation of sanctification is something that depends on us after we are saved.

    The tendency for theological error resulting from overemphasizing one side of a debate versus another has been demonstrated time and time again throughout church history. For example, the well-known debate between Calvinists and Arminians is frequently seen (somewhat inaccurately) as a “conflict” between God’s sovereignty and man’s autonomous free will. Many on both sides of this debate have a tendency to overemphasize one side of this “conflict” to the exclusion of the other. Those who emphasize God’s sovereignty tend to minimize human volition, while those who emphasize man’s ability to choose end up burdening themselves and others with the charge to behave perfectly before the Lord. In reality, both God’s sovereignty and man’s volition must be held in tension with one another, because both are taught in Scripture.

    In the same way, Keswick theologians take a very real and biblical distinction between justification and sanctification and press it too far. Scripture tells us that all those who are saved (justified) are also being sanctified. God promises to finish the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6).

    “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:22, NASB). We are freed from sin by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but our freedom must lead to holiness (sanctification), not further sin. Rather, Paul tells us that we are “to consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11, NASB). The picture that we see painted in these verses is that it is impossible for the believer to persist in sin, once he or she has truly entered into a relationship with Christ. Keswick theology says that one could be a genuine Christian and still say something like, “I have been justified, but I am not being sanctified, because I don’t see the need to be right now. I’m a Christian, surely; I’m just not as dedicated as others might be.” Of course, Scripture tells us that such an attitude is really evidence that the person speaking is not a believer (1 John 2:3–4). As a result, Keswick theology may give false assurance of salvation to those who refuse to submit to the Word of God but still want to think of themselves as truly saved.

    Sanctification is a long, gradual, and sometimes tortuous process, and it is something that all believers will experience, not just those who have a “second touch” of the Spirit. The Keswick movement has some commendable points—an emphasis on the lordship of Christ and personal holiness, discipleship, and a promotion of missionary activity. And some historic evangelistic efforts have begun at Keswick Conventions. However, Keswick theology’s insistence on a “second blessing,” its hierarchy of “sanctified” Christians vs. those who are “only justified,” and its bent toward the unbiblical doctrine of entire sanctification are causes of concern.

    There are additional, short articles at the bottom of the linked page above that you may find useful as well.

    God bless you :)

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  5. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    In Relationship
    Faith is embedded both in the flesh and in the spirit. The Holy Spirit connects with our spirit which is housed in flesh. These are the two dimensions, physical and spiritual. Afterall He makes His home in us while we are in a body.

    Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."
  6. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter


    Thanks for your reply.

    As regards the booklet I was refering to, it was less to do with prosperity teaching (which is sometimes related to the law of attraction, and 'higher thought' philosophy) and more about christian perfection which it criticised and offered instead a reformed teaching on the christian life.
    I think the book was very helpful to me at the time, and I refer to it from time to time.

    But when I talk about two aspects of faith what I mean is how are receiving from God (one aspect) and giving ourselves to God (another aspect) related?
  7. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Well I read a bit of Oswald Chambers from time to time and I was aware of his Wesleyian background - his devotional writings I find at times are quite helpful, and on other occasions I am not sure if I am understanding him right. Chambers would not say as regards sanctification that its something you can put off till it suits you - he would say : you have no business not being sanctified. He often challenges his readers to "get a move on!" and says we should not be waiting for God to make us perfect specimens of saintliness before engaging in christian work or service. I really think a lot of what he says is helpful. He does make a differentiation that between Salvation and Discipleship.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
  8. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Some of these higher life teachings have led me to a crisis, that has near driven me insane at times. Chambers himself spent several years during which he said except for a few close friends looking out for him, he'd have ended up in a mental asylum. This seemed to be a period when he was seeking something more in his christian experience.

    It concerns me at the moment in my own experience because I have ideas of things I would like to do and I am not yet sure if I would be doing them for the right reasons. This is a bit off from my main topic, but Chambers says the lazy person tends to strike out on an independent line. For a number of years I have been into CS Lewis and I used to be involved with a local CS Lewis group - well it folded and broke up and one or two of the members continued on in different directions.

    Well I wanted myself for the last number of years to do something Lewis related - probably a short pamphlet - and have just worked on it on and off but not with a lot of clarity on what I wanted to achieve. I have more idea now of a particular direction to take it in. Is there anything wrong in this. I have read a good bit of Lewis and have a good number of books by and about him to use for research, so I wanted to make use of what I have studied in some way. I don't believe God has always one thing for us to do - I don't quite believe in the "dot" approach to guidance. He may have a particular thing sometimes for us to do, but at other times I think God wants us to exercise wisdom.
  9. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

    I really find some of Oswald Chambers devotional thoughts helpful, but others I think I would go insane. He interprets "Agree with thine adversary quickly" and "you will not get out until you have paid the last penny" in regard to relationships, and says "Jesus doesn't care if you are defrauded ... he cares that you don't defraud others." This is Ok, but he doesn't seem to leave room for having say a discussion with family members in such a way that others can see were they may be being unfair. So often in my life, I have acknowledged when i have been at fault, yet I have felt others walked away with little or no awareness of how their demands have been unreasonable and ungracious. Its lead me to a nervous breakdown at one point. Chambers doesn't seem to grasp the fact that some people can be labouring under false guilt, or a false sense of responsibility for things.