A Brief History of Spookery
The above links to a comment at a Cutting Through The Fog post. The commenter points to this link as proof that Paul constantly contradicted Jesus and himself:
Before responding to his other points I think this document needs to be thoroughly examined. Many will likely accept this assertion as true without looking into it. So let’s look closely at what they say the Bible says. In my experience the Bible has held it’s own against such criticism and I figured it’d be worth examining the specifics point by point.
The first lines of this document-
Jesus: The one who repents from sin is “justified.” (Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Luke 18:10-14.) Th son who was dead but now repents is “alive again” (born again). (Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:1-32, viz. v. 24.)
So right out of the gate we must question the reading comprehension of whoever put this list together. Just read Luke 18:10-14. This passage is about humility, not how one is “saved”. Look at how Jesus finishes this illustration: “Because everyone who exalts himself will humiliated, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14b). Also, it’s clear from the context who he was addressing and why, verse 9 introduces the parable: “He also told this illustration to some who trusted in their own righteousness and who considered others as nothing”. Verse 13 brings the point out with “this man…was proved more righteous”. Of course, you probably should be righteous before God to be in line for salvation, but that’s not what is being emphasized here. Jesus explicitly compares these two characters’ righteousness before God because his audience needed help to stop comparing themselves to others. What does your relative righteousness have to do with my salvation? Logically, none. This is not really a passage to use to begin your understanding of how to attain to salvation.
So we remove that from the list. And move onto the next cited scripture, the familiar “Prodigal Son”. Here the writer says that the son is “alive again” after repenting and coming home. Let’s read verse 24 as they highlight it: “‘For this son of mine was dead but has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves.” The son’s condition before repenting and coming home is compared to his condition after. This passage doesn’t go on about the son’s life going on forever – which really is the goal of salvation, right? No, it goes on about the older son’s jealousy over his father’s exuberant acceptance of the younger son’s return. Again, to understand the point of the illustration we must see who Jesus is speaking to which will give us more indication of the why behind the story:
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners kept gathering around him to hear him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes kept muttering: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” – Luke 15:1, 2
Jesus then shares two short examples of people rejoicing over something that was lost, a shepherd and a sheep, and a woman and one of her drachmas. Then he goes into the long parable of the “Prodigal son”. From this context how do you understand the goal of Jesus’ words? Is he highlighting an important aspect of salvation? Or is he relating to his people’s religious leaders that they need an attitude adjustment toward those seeking to turn around from their spiritually dead position?
Recognizing that your God and creator wants to help you and returning to him makes sense as a step toward salvation, but this story ends with the father talking to the jealous son so Jesus’ focus is on their attitude not the mechanics of salvation. Again we can remove this passage from where they placed it. But now this box is empty. Ok, let’s check the Paul side and see if our writer applies his words more logically. The first citation:
By this undeserved kindness you have been saved through faith, and this is not of your own doing; rather it is God’s gift. No, it is not a result of works, so that no one should have grounds from boasting. – Ephesians 2:8,9
This passage does at least focus on that subject of ‘being saved’ or salvation. But in summarizing this the writer misses the mark again: “One is not justified nor born again by repentance from sin, but by faith alone.” Really? “by faith alone”? Is that what Paul said? No, he says salvation is “God’s gift” and that it’s “not of your own doing”. God is doing the real saving here, our efforts can’t help us attain the gift that God has so gracefully chosen to bestow.
Upon whom does he chose to bestow this gift? Certainly those how have faith in him, see Hebrews 11:6 “without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” God can only reward you with salvation if you have faith in him, seems logical. If you read this whole document you will never find them mention God’s role in our salvation despite references scriptures like this that bring it up. Discussing these spiritual concepts from the Bible without mentioning Jehovah is like discussing atomic structure without mentioning the charge field. The primary action is being taken by who? Again, our writer seems to miss the real point of what’s expressed.
Romans 4:4 is also cited. This verse says “Now to the man who works his pay is not counted as as undeserved kindness but as something owed to him.” Which is pretty straight forward. If you give me something that’s a gift, if I work for you then your owe me. Where is God in that equation? Well, we owe our existence to God, thus we are debtors. Let’s look at the surrounding verses to see why Paul makes this statement.
That being so, what will we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For instance, if Abraham was declared righteous as a result of works, he would have reason to boast, but not with God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the man who works, his pay is not counted as an undeserved kindness but as something owed to him. On the other hand, to the man who does not work but puts faith in the One who declares the ungodly one righteous, his faith is counted as righteousness. Just as David also speaks of the happiness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Happy are those whose lawless deeds have been pardoned and whose sins have been covered; happy is the man whose sin Jehovah will by no means take into account.” – Romans 4:1-8
So verse 4 is just a quick contrast to highlight Paul’s main idea, that even noteworthy examples of faith were not owed their salvation. No, even for them it was a gift from God and he quotes David’s words from Psalm 32 bring out we can be happy because God isn’t expecting an accounting our transgressions.
But how is it summed up by our writer here? “Any such addition to Paul’s
salvation by faith alone doctrine is the heresy of ‘works salvation.'” Again with the “faith alone” nonsense. If anything should be called “heresy” it should be the use of that extremely misleading phrase. There’s nothing “alone” about faith or salvation. The whole phrase seems to exist to confuse honest-hearted bible-readers. Faith doesn’t save you, God does. Faith is the most basic requirement on our part for God to extend the gift of everlasting life. Real faith will move a person to make changes. Which is the meaning of repentance: “change one’s mind”. The repentance discussed on the Jesus side of a box is indeed an act of faith. The prodigal son repented and returned home because he had faith that doing so would be an improvement to his situation, (Luke 15:17).
So that means a “deathbed conversion” is possible if the person really changes their mind, but we can be understandably skeptical of their true heart condition since we don’t have further proof of their change of heart – if it’s real, God knows (Jeremiah 11:20). But imagine a sudden recovery and they return to their former conduct. Now perhaps you see why James wrote “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17, 26). Similarly if the prodigal son had only changed his mind about his conduct he’d not have improved his situation, he had to make the effort to return to his father. But as I mentioned before, we don’t know if he continued to make good decisions after returning home. To live a life of faith means in general your actions reflect your faith. But your work in accordance with your faith will never pay God back for what you owe him, thus your salvation is ultimately due to his generosity.
Sheesh! Going in I thought I might address every point, but given how this started I don’t think that’s necessary. But we’ll read the next one:
Jesus: The one who relies upon God’s election to salvation and does not
repent goes home unjustified. (Parable of the Publican and the
Pharisee. Luke 18:10-14.)
Where are they getting their ideas from? “God’s election to salvation”? If the Pharisee prayed giving thanks for his Jewish heritage and lineage to the priestly families that might follow from the text, but the Pharisee’s prayer includes a comparison of himself to sinners and lists deeds he thinks are part of his righteousness. Nothing about “God’s election”. Jesus is highlighting the importance of our attitude and thinking.
Again, they are forcing a passage about humility to shape their thinking on attaining to salvation. Many well-known bible translations use “justified” in the text of Luke 18:14, but a number of them use the phrase “right with God” or “declared righteous”. I quickly found these: Good News Translation (GNT), International Children’s Bible (ICB), The Message (MSG), Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT), Tree of Life Version (TLV), Young’s Literal Translation (YLT).
We can see that this is another comparison of attitudes: “I say to you, this one went-down to his house having been declared-righteous, rather-than that one,” (Luke 10:14a, DLNT). The Contemporary English Version (CEV) translates it “it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God.” These translations help us understand that Jesus isn’t expounding upon the details of salvation. He is saying one must be humble to please God, which is certainly part of salvation, but not how you “get saved”.
So another empty square, but words of Paul do they compare to this?
The one who relies upon God’s election alone for salvation is relying on the right thing. (Rom. 8:33.) God elects you to salvation by means of predestination, and hence without any work on your part. Faith is given to you as part of God’s work in you. (Phil 1:6)
Yikes, none of these concepts hold up to an examination of the bible text. First let’s look at the cited scripture: “Who will file accusation against God’s chosen ones? God is the One who declares them righteous.” Working backward, it is logical that God declares who is righteous, since he is the one who provides the ultimate standard of righteousness and he can read our hearts. We saw above that it helps to be humble if you want to be righteous before God. But in this context Paul compares the judgement of men to the judgement of God. Obviously God’s judgment is more important than men’s.
It’s the phrase “God’s chosen ones” that leads to the wrong conclusion that God does all the choosing, taking away our agency or free will in regard to our own standing before God. But that is that what we’ve found? Jesus’ parable of the two men at prayer is encouragement to make a better choice. Oh but this whole thing is supposed to be Paul vs Jesus, because someone who can’t read thinks they are at odds. OK. What’s Paul say about our free will? Just flip back and read chapters 6 and 7 of Romans.
There we find phrases like “do not let sin continue to rule as king in your mortal bodies” (Rom. 6:12), “if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves you are slaves to the one you obey” (6:16) , and “now present your members as slaves of righteous” (6:19). The words I italicized demonstrate that Paul expects his readers to make a choice and act accordingly. Then in chapter 7, after explaining being freed from the Law and it’s role in identifying sin, he goes on to focus on the importance of continuing to do what you know is right, even though you may often feel like doing something else (Rom. 7:23). Paul’s expressions here shows that he understands how hard it can be, but he exhorts his reader to keep making the choice that they made when they first decided to be a disciple of Jesus. Romans 8:6 “For setting the mind on the flesh means death, but setting the mind on the spirit means life and peace”. The only way to misconstrue Paul’s words into something about predestination is to ignore most of what he is saying.
So what about the next scripture they bring up? Phil 1:6. If you read it and the surrounding verses, there is no specific mention of faith. He seems to connect this work with the “legally establishing of the good news”. So the work is likely the Christian ministry of preaching the kingdom. Which is what Jesus told his followers to do, (Matt 28:19, 20). So we have another misapplied scripture and thus we have no proof that faith is God’s work in us.
If this pattern holds there is no bible-based content in this chart. It’s empty arguments and words that mimic association with the text to confuse or distract from the real content. This list exists so people who want to ignore the Bible as self-contradictory can feel like someone has already done the research so they don’t have to think or examine the text for themselves. But we know that usually means something fishy is afoot.
This should be enough for us to know we better simply read the Bible on our own to see what it says. But we can look more closely at the next couple of sections. This will also provide an opportunity to explore some concepts that come to many people’s minds when they think of the Bible.
To have eternal life, follow the Ten Commandments, deny yourself (i.e., repent and do works worthy of repentance) and then follow Jesus. If you give up fathers, mothers, and brothers for Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross, and “follow Me,” you “shall have eternal life.” (Matthew 19:27-29; Matthew 10:37-39; John 12:25-26.)
Is having “eternal life” the same as salvation? I think basically, yes, but I wonder what they’d say. Salvation implies being saved from something, I would assume that we mean Satan’s corrupt world and death, but again I wonder what they’d say. Eternal life seems like the sort of thing that’s only possible once all dangers are eliminated, so they are similar. But rather than dig into that let’s see what these scriptures say about following the Ten Commandments, self-denial, and following Jesus leading to eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29 reads:
Then Peter said in reply: “Look! We have left all things and followed you; what, then will there be for us?” Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you, in the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit everlasting life.
This makes part of their point, but if they want the Ten Commandments to be mentioned they should have written “Matthew 19:16-29”, and included Jesus’ answer to the wealthy man’s question. On the surface Jesus’ mentioning of these commandments, verse 17-19, seems to support their assertion here, but this disregards two major things. 1) The Mosaic Law was still in effect. It was in effect as long as Jesus was alive and ended with his death.
2) Jesus is speaking to an individual, like with others, he could discern his thinking, see Matt 9:3, 4, Mark 2:6-8. Jesus lovingly showed this man that he was overly attached to his worldly possessions. He opened by directing attention not to himself, but on God, the source of good and deferred to Jehovah’s commandments when the man asked which to follow. Yet, the man felt he still lacked something.
Notice the final command listed by Jesus speaking to this rich man “Love your neighbor as yourself”. First note, this is not one of the “Ten Commandments” so Jesus isn’t just focused on those ten as asserted. Perhaps that 2nd greatest commandment is part of why the man felt lacking. So Jesus gave him a simple command to give away much of his belongings. This relates to the man’s excellent record of following the Law – a series of straight forward commands. But this time he couldn’t bring himself to follow why? The man’s attitude needed adjustment – he was overly attached to his material possessions. Jesus lovingly helped the man confront this fact.
So how does this relate to our salvation? Well, we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, so that part doesn’t apply in the same way. The Law does help us understand Jehovah’s thinking, likes and dislikes as well as priorities (Hosea 6:6). As for the second point about giving up family and following Jesus, we can relate this rich man’s situation to it in terms of a contrast – he was unwilling to give up something important to him to inherit something greater, everlasting life. So that helps us understand that we may have to give up a lot in order to follow after him. Also if you go back and read the summary provided by the chart they made it seem like you have to give up your family to have eternal life, but what if your whole family follows Jesus? Are you supposed to give them up somehow? Is that logical? Or is perhaps Jesus making a point about priorities?
Now, the part they actually cited comes only after Jesus’ famous words that “it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of an needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”.* Which is basically saying it’s impossible, so understandably Peter asked “Who really can be saved?” Jesus is speaking to his closest disciples, the apostles, so he knows they’ve given up much to be learn from and follow him, so we must read this with this in mind. When Jesus says “you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones” keep in mind his primary listeners in the moment. But then he does make a broader statement about “everyone who has left houses or brothers….for the sake of my name”. This is in contrast to the rich man who couldn’t make a large adjustment to improve his relationship with God. Jesus is assuring his followers that their sacrifices are worth it.
The next two passages they cite do express something similar, but their context shows a very different sort of discussion.
Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.- Matthew 10:37-39
These words come after Jesus explains how following after him may separate family and break up households – that is conflict may arise. (Mt. 10:34-36) Again, an emphasis on spiritual priorities. But this is expressed only after he states the importance of acknowledging Jesus before men, (Mt. 10:32, 33). Which makes sense since Jesus is preparing some of his disciples for a preaching campaign. Just read the start of chapter 10, after verse 5 it’s a long series of instructions and reminders for those doing this work, then at 11:1 they finally are sent out. I say all this to show that this passage is not focused on the idea of “how to attain everlasting life”, this isn’t a discourse about salvation doctrine so it relates only inasmuch as the text allows. The text shows this is preparation for preaching. Given that some may have feared persecution in response to their preaching work Jesus’ words about losing one’s soul (or life) may have been understood literally.
The final cited scripture from John 12 also has very different context. Jesus has recently entered Jerusalem in a unusually public way, John 12:12, 13. Many people are there for the Passover celebration (John 12:1, 20), and Jesus knows that he will soon die (John 12:33). The cited passage, John 12:25, 26, is part of an answer (v23) to a request by some Greeks (v20) to see Jesus (v21).
These last two cited scriptures in the chart express the basic idea highlighted. A person needs prioritize their life less than Jesus and follow after him. Indeed this is part of the Christian course but I take issue with the way they express it. Perhaps they are just being brief, but I don’t think that’s it. Their statements create a false sense of direct correlation. “Deny yourself, follow Jesus” = “You’ll be saved”. Once more, the problem with this sort of over-simplification is that it removes the most important person from the action, Jehovah. God is the one making this possible. It’s not some impersonal cause and effect.
Remember how at Matthew 19, Jesus first asked “Why do you call me ‘good’? One there is who is good.” Who is he talking about? Then at Matthew 10, Jesus says at verse 32, that if we publicly acknowledge Jesus before men, then Jesus will acknowledge us before God. Jesus recognizing us as his follower before God is a big deal! See Revelation 3:5. Finally, John 12:26, the very next thing spoken after what’s cited brings God in: “If anyone would minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am, there my minister will be also. If anyone would minister to me, the Father will honor.” Being honored by God is obviously one of the greatest things the creator can give one of his creations. Indeed, isn’t a large part of existence to bring honor to our maker – by whom we exist in the first place? (Matt 5:16, 1 Cor. 10:31). Most people deny the existence of God and therefore do not recognize his great works or his name and all that it represents. As opposed to Jesus, who often drew attention to our wonderful loving creator (another example John 11:40-42).
Returning to John 12, it makes sense that God choose this occasion to speak from the heaven before a crowd. Yes indeed, at John 12, right after Jesus’ response that we’ve been considering and shortly after the cited section of John, Jehovah God himself spoke, John 12:28-30. Interesting to note that he spoke for the ‘sake of the crowd’, but his words were in regard to glorifying his own name and that he will do something to glorify his name. And this is in response to Jesus’ prophesying about his execution. Without getting too deep into how all this connects it seems obvious that Jesus’ obedience even to death would be a big part of God’s glorification.
So, again by examining the context we can see that the cited scriptures are being used to push certain ideas while ignoring some of the bigger ideas in the text. But how do they say Paul contradicts this?
To have eternal life, say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe He is resurrected. (Rom. 10:9.) Do not add any work. “Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt.” (Rom. 4:4.) If salvation depends on keeping the Law, then salvation by faith is made void. “[I]f they that are of the law are heirs, faith is made void…” (Rom.4:14.)
Doesn’t this contradict itself? “Say with your mouth” is an action or “work”, so Paul pairs having faith with speaking about your faith. This chart seems unable to really grasp the meaning of the words cited as evidence, odd…or insidious you tell me.
Now, read Romans 10:9 for yourself: “For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved.” This scripture presents two things. 1) declare with your mouth and 2) exercise faith in your heart. Taken alone this reveals that it’s not enough to have faith, you must also tell others about your faith. Which is a work.
In fact didn’t we just see above Jesus saying the same thing? Matthew 10:32 “Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens”. Jesus, as mediator of the new covenant, is the person we need vouching for us before God in order to gain everlasting life. He just said he’ll only do that if we acknowledge him before men. Paul is saying we must have faith and then speak about it. They are in agreement. The cited Romans 10:9 is most certainly part of a discussion of the importance of preaching work:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart”; that is, “the word” of faith, which we are preaching. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation. -Romans 10:8-10
If you keep reading you will see that Paul isn’t saying preaching saves you, he is saying it spreads the message to help others put faith in the truth, helping save them. By continuing in the preaching work a Christian maintains their spiritual focus, strengthens their faith and reinforces their own salvation. Paul’s words at 1 Timothy 4:16 “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” Paul isn’t saying you save yourself by means of doing the preaching work, he’s highlighting it’s importance. We already know that our works can’t pay the debt we owe, which is what’s expressed at Romans 4, bringing in the last two scriptures cited in the box here, we’ve already discussed Romans 4:4. Romans 4:14 emphasizes the same basic thought, contrasting righteousness through the Law with that of through faith. Paul’s discussion of the Law shows that it helps identify sin so it can be corrected, but it can only be fully corrected by God, and thus we make it possible for God to do this for us when we put faith in him and his primary means for saving us, Jesus. If a person learns these things and puts faith in them, if that faith is real they will understand the importance of spreading the message and obey Jesus’ command to preach (Matt 28:19,20) which, in turn, helps them to endure.
To summarize Paul, nothing we do can save us, our faith allows God to work in our lives. God working in our lives leads to telling others about our faith. He is writing to a large group of people new to the Christian faith, many who had a Jewish background. This is not comparable to Jesus’s words to one rich man while the Mosaic Law is in effect. Paul is writing after Jesus’ death which ended that covenant. As you can see, I’m still waiting for some thoughtful comparisons within this chart.
A Christian will go to hell if they deny Christ under pressure. (Luke 12:4-9.)
Ah, so here we go. Hell isn’t a biblical concept. Just read Revelation 20:14 where “death and Hades (the Grave)” are “hurled into the lake of fire”. These are abstract concepts- death isn’t a person, it’s a thing that happens to a life. A few sentences later the meaning is explained: “Death will be no more” (Rev. 21:4). This describes the end of death. Fire is a symbol of destruction, not suffering. How long can a person live within an incinerator? Not long.
There’s another passage that some may think presents this idea of hell, the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, given at Luke 16:19-31. Jesus describes quite a change for these two men. The rich man says “I am in anguish in this blazing fire”, so does this mean hell is a real biblical teaching? Well, again we must look at the context. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisee’s who are self-righteous. This parable illustrates a dramatic change is coming for people like them. What support is there for taking this parable literally? I don’t see any. Again, a parable is a story meant to make a point. It is the point that is to be taken seriously not the story itself. He spend a lot of time illustrating the sad condition the rich man is in to make sure his target audience, the Pharisees, get it. This point is similar to his words “there are those last who will be first, and there are those first who will be last.” (Luke 13:30)
We can jump to Jeremiah’s prophecy to read how Jehovah feels about burning people: “in order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, something that I had not commanded and that had never even come into my heart” (Jer. 7:31, also 32:35). So we can see how Jehovah feels about that idea – it’s not his sort of thing.
With this in mind, we can consider some of Jesus’ words which they cite:
4 Moreover, I say to you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more. 5 But I will show you whom to fear: Fear the One who after killing has authority to throw into Ge·henʹna. Yes, I tell you, fear this One. 6 Five sparrows sell for two coins of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.
8 “I say to you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. – Luke 12:4-9
This passage supports our previous comments about a “public declaration” being an important part of the Christian’s course. It supports what we just read about Jehovah caring for his people so much that he’d never consider burning them in fire, no we are “worth more than many sparrows”. And of course Jesus says we should only fear God. Fear, not as in morbid dread, but astonished awe or reverence. It makes more sense to ‘fear’ our creator more than any human. God is the source of life, and so he is also the source of the standards by which that life lives, so his judgments should be more important to us.
What is Gehenna? If you look it up online, you will find the word surrounded by lots of noise. A lot of it is just talking about how it has been come to be understood and used, but if you ignore that junk you will find that the word has sometimes been translated “rubbish heap” and evidence that it refers to a place just outside the city of Jerusalem in which “unclean” things were burned, and there may have been fire there continually. So, I’m imagining something like tire-fire of the Simpson’s Springfield.
If I were to say to you, “I’m going to hang out in the dumpster fire”. You wouldn’t try to stop me saying “that will hurt a lot and you’ll be in pain during your visit” No, you’d connect a human in a fire with their death, the end of the person. That fact that the fire doesn’t go out emphasizes that the person will not be able to reconstitute and live. This matches the basic idea that most of Judaism does not have the hell doctrine.
That last empty box is compared to 2 Timothy 2:12 & 13. But this last one is so goofball that it contradicts itself without having to even dig into the context.
If we deny Jesus, He will deny us, but in the end God will still accept us because He cannot deny Himself. (Stanley.) Paul says: “if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for He cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim. 2:12-13.)
Do you see it? “He [God] cannot deny himself” is being used to assert that God will not deny a human. But humans are not God, and God is not a human. Paul made it clear that God is willing to let go of us if we deny him. Doesn’t that match what Jesus said? If God “abideth faithful” wouldn’t he deny himself if he did save someone unfaithful? That how that reads to me. What do you think?
Again, this level of misreading, misrepresenting does not feel like an honest effort but indicates to me an effort to make the Bible seem foolish and full of contradiction. After joining me on this I hope you can see that perhaps it’s not the Bible that is doing the contradicting.
*This passage always make me think that Jesus probably had a great sense of humor, but we rarely get to see it. And his jokes probably were always taken too seriously. Like here it seems that Peter took that hyperbole completely at face value and needed reassurance.
And seeing Paul and Jesus in agreement addresses much of the stuff our initial commenter says.