Lard-Buts and World-Think


Much of the Christian life is confronting the difference between our programmed world-think and the Word of God. We’re to make a faith-choice on the side of the Word.

Author Dan Stone once said, “People say what they really think after the ‘but’.” Like this: “She’s really a nice person, but…” “Yes, the Bible says we’re saved by grace through faith, but…” We often take a truth and plunk a big but down on it in an attempt to suffocate the truth’s implications.

How many of us believe the Word without putting a “but” afterward? “But” is like “positional” in that both words are often used as an end-run around the truth to lessen the showdown between world-think and Word. The word “positional” often pushes the truth into some far off some-day rather than allowing us to access and appropriate the truth here and now when we really need it.

Word: “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Rom 6:18

World-Think: Yes, we’re set free from sin and slaves of righteousness positionally, but we’re still sinners so we sin.

Word: “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law….” Rom 7:4a.

World-Think: Yes, of course – but we’re dead to the ceremonial law, not the moral law.

Word: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal 2:20

World-Think: We have been crucified with Christ – positionally. We have to die to self because the old man comes down from the Cross.

Word: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” 1John 2:1

World-Think: Yes we’re not supposed to sin but we can’t really help it because we’re sinners.

Word: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

World-Think: Yes, that’s wonderful, but my particular sin is too awful (or besetting, or addictive).

World-think robs us of using our inheritance in Christ now, when we really need it. This is our one chance in all of eternity to appropriate real, usable power and virtue in order to spit in the face of world-think. Here and now is where we choose to rely on Christ within us as the source of everything we need for life and godliness – or not. Our choices here will resound throughout eternity, rewards eternally given or eternally lost.

World-think says Don’t take the Word literally; it can’t mean exactly what it says. Put a “but” after it and qualify it, weaken it, water it down.

World-think is insidious, detrimental, and ultimately devastating to our Christian walk. It has its origin in Satan’s own mind.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


  1. Mike

    Yet another great post Ron. Thanks. I think it was the old preacher Oliver Green or maybe it was AW Tozier that said Jesus and ……………….. was the biggest problem in Christianity. It’s Jesus plus nothing.

    On a side note I’ve always wanted to do a study of “buts” in the Bible. I’ve never gotten around to it.

  2. Bryan


    While I understand your point about using the term “but”, I have to say I do not completely understand your examples (or honestly agree with them).

    I think context is the key and some of the verses and respective “world/think” replys you used I would disagree with. Her is an example I would use to illustrate.

    Word: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.” 1 Cor. 7:19

    World-Think: Yes, but I am dead to the law according to Romans and therefore the commandments or law is of no value to me.

    I hope you can see what I am hitting at here.

    Peace and Blessings.

  3. Ron Block



    I do see what you’re getting at, and there are many things in the Bible we can do that with.

    The greater context of what Paul preached was “Christ in you.” “For we preach Christ, and not ourselves.” Christ, for Paul, is the Law-keeper; we cannot in our human effort keep God’s commands. In the recognition of our weakness He becomes our strength.

    We are dead to the Law – that is, we are dead to having to perform a rule-based system in order to be accepted by God (in the first place), and dead to having to keep rules by our own self-effort in order to “be like Christ” (in the second place).

    In Christ we died; in Christ we have been resurrected, and what counts is a new creation – if any man is in Christ he is in fact and reality that new creation.

    I am no longer under compulsion by Law to exert self-effort to be good. What matters is that I abide in Christ – that I take Him as my all in all, that I rely on His power and love within me and step out in faith. When I do this, He lives through me. That’s the walk of the Christian life – a walk of faith, not of self-effort.

    Commandment-keeping by effort is what many of us do until we are broken of it by having to live in a continual Romans 7 experience – self-hatred, inability, frustration. Many think Romans 7 is the pinnacle of what we can attain in this life.

    The other side of the same coin is to say, “Oh well I am dead to the Law, and can’t keep it anyway, and therefore I’m going to go out and party, dude. Jesus forgives me.” Both ways are dead-ends in that they see the human self as independent and autonomous – not weak and “I can do nothing of myself.” At least the “party for Jesus” mindset recognizes the inability of human effort to keep the Law – but it does not access and appropriate Christ’s indwelling power to move forward in faith and see Him bring life change and love-for-God-and-others.

    Both views disregard large portions of Scripture – as I quoted, 1John says, “I write these things to you that ye may not sin.” We’re not supposed to be constantly sinning – a clear indicator that we are not abiding, not walking in reliant trust. Neither are we supposed to be beating our heads against the wall trying to be perfect by our own human effort. Both views disregard faith as the necessary connector between the implanted Christ-life within me and the daily expression of that love-life to family, friends, enemies.

  4. Ron Block


    Bryan – one more thought. It really is about what we’re taking as the starting point of holiness – ourselves, or Christ within us. The Law mindset and the license mindset both take “me” as a starting point – the one is “I’ve got to do A, B, and C for God and be Christ-like.” The other says, “I can’t do all that so I’m just going to do what I feel like doing.” Both are taking the human self as an independent “I” rather than a blood-bought, blood-washed, Christ-indwelt, Spirit-empowered human container.

  5. Bryan


    I agree with you completely on the subject of justification before God, though I imagine our views of sanctification would probably differ.

    I think you missed, or either I did not explain very well, what I was trying to say. Simply put I believe some (not all) of your examples are not true of what scripture teaches.

    Your first statement was:

    Word: “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Rom 6:18

    World-Think: Yes, we’re set free from sin and slaves of righteousness positionally, but we’re still sinners so we sin.

    A believer in Christ has been set free from the law as it relates to righteousness before God. Christ is our righteousness. A believer is also set free from the wages of sin produced by the law which is death. Death no longer reigns over us. Sin no longer has dominion over us (does not mean that sin is no longer present). My concern is nowhere does the Bible teach that we no longer sin…? So how is it if a believer still wrestles with sin it is World-Think….?

    Your second statement:

    Word: “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law….” Rom 7:4a.

    World-Think: Yes, of course – but we’re dead to the ceremonial law, not the moral law.

    The believer is once again dead to the law regarding justification or righteousness before God. Our righteousness is not based on works of the law rather the imparted righteousness of Christ on those who believe in Him. Christ also said said that those who abide in Him and love Him would keep His commandments. The law is, what love would do. We do not live lives morally because it earns, achieves, attains, etc.. anything with regards to our standing before God. Rather we live lives that please God in obedience because it is now the joy of a believer. Whatever way you want to phrase it (command, law, precept, etc.), they are still moral laws God has set forth that we are to walk in.

    My point is the term “but” can be used in two ways: 1) to justify our behaviour or actions or 2) to express the burden and struggle within a believers bosom which he is expressing in exercise over the struggles within the inner man. The first way is wrong, but not the second.

    Perhaps I have completely missed what you were trying to say or express in this post. If so I apologize.

  6. Mike


    You said
    “A believer in Christ has been set free from the law as it relates to righteousness before God. Christ is our righteousness. A believer is also set free from the wages of sin produced by the law which is death. Death no longer reigns over us. Sin no longer has dominion over us (does not mean that sin is no longer present). My concern is nowhere does the Bible teach that we no longer sin…? So how is it if a believer still wrestles with sin it is World-Think….?”

    Not at all speaking for Ron but I would say although a believer struggles with sin God does not. It is not longer a condition of our relationship from His perspective. But then again was it ever a condition from His perspective?

  7. Bob Mc

    Excellent Ron! It is Christ is us that does the overcoming. Our job is to abide. The buts let the law of sin and death keep us in it’s grip. Therefore the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of Sin and Death. I have been watching the movie the Matrix the last couple of days, what an example of this exact truth. We need our minds freed
    from the stone like patterns of repeatability of the matrix of world think. We must learn to operate on the next level which is the Spirit. The law of the Spirit transends the truth of this world and all it’s buts. Basically we need a but kicking. lol

  8. Stacy Grubb

    Bryan said: “So how is it if a believer still wrestles with sin it is World-Think….?”


    To address that as it applies to my own life (ie, not trying to speak for Ron, here), the use of the word “but” in Ron’s World-Think is to apply a belief that will supersede the fact that God has issued a statement that we are to take as an absolute reality. To me, it’s more about unbelief in that “but” says that God can’t really drive sin or sin habits from our lives. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “Christ also said said that those who abide in Him and love Him would keep His commandments.” So, if we’re abiding in Him and keeping His commandments, that amounts to not sinning, right? We can’t keep His commandments and sin simultaneously. The World-Think here would be something like, “Christ said that those who abide in Him and Love Him would keep His commandments, and I love God, but as a born sinner, I will also die a sinner and that can’t be helped.” Yes, “but” can be used to justify wrongdoing as a lifestyle, and it can also be used to express unbelief in what God is capable of and will carry out in our lives if we are walking in faith. Unbelief is probably the most destructive sin in a believer’s life because it holds everything at a stand-still until we finally rest on God’s promises and see what Salvation is really all about.


  9. Ron Block



    I did entirely understand what you were saying. Maybe it’s that I did not explain myself clearly enough. Sometimes I get on a flood of words and the reader is lost in the inundation.

    At the root of all our sin troubles is this: independence. “I am a self, autonomous, able to choose.” In truth no human being is an autonomous self. Eph 2:2 says the unredeemed have a spirit operating in them.

    Against this Paul says that redeemed self is dead with Christ. We are now Christ-indwelt selves under new management. “By one sacrifice He has perfected forever” says Hebrews. We are literally perfect in our inner man – the holy of holies in us, where the Ark sits. That is Christ in us, with the unbroken commandments in His heart and the jar of manna (daily bread) and Aaron’s rod that budded (life from a dead stick).

    Now, Hebrews 10:14 goes on to say, “…those who are being made holy.” Holiness is both a static, one-time event (we are holy) and a process (we are “being made holy”). Christ, our Joshua, has taken our inner Jericho, our inner holy of holies, the center of the Land. Now we are to go on warring skirmishes with Him in the lead, to wipe out our indwelling Canaanites – those attitudes, thoughts, coping mechanisms that we learned growing up surrounded by World-Think.

    Our major struggle with sin, then, is this: “Sin shall not have power over you, for you are not under the Law, but under grace.” If we flip that around it says sin shall have power over us as long as we put pressure on our human self to perform good, as if we can be good independently. This “me being good” is the lie of the Serpent in Eden. In reality there is only One who is good: God Himself.

    This God, who has now come to indwell us by the Spirit of His Son Jesus Christ, is the only source of goodness. We often talk about righteousness only in terms of justification, as if the only thing that was important was that God sees me as righteous. But the entire point of justification is that we then proceed on to this progressive, aggressive sanctification by faith, this bold, active takeover of the promised land. Jesus came to save us from our sins – not just from the penalty due them, but from the sins themselves. He is our Joshua.

    A believer wrestling with sin by his own self-effort is in world-think. If he is not engaging in Christ-reliance, trusting Christ within him, he will meet with the same trouble as Joshua’s men did at Ai. They didn’t consult and trust God, were self-confident instead of God-reliant, and so got their butts kicked. Regarding the Law, we are dead to it in terms of justification; God imputes Christ’s righteousness to our account – and we are also dead to the Law in sanctification; Christ’s righteousness is given to us as an actual, here-and-now, usable commodity. The using of it is by reliance, not by the human self striving to make itself good by flesh-effort.

    For instance, there is no way a blood-bought, Christ-indwelt Christian can look at pornography while at the same time praising Christ for living in him and being his indwelling purity, for being his protection against darkness and a fortress against evil. We cannot abide and sin at the same time; the two are mutually exclusive. If I am sinning, I am not abiding; if I am abiding, I am not sinning. 1John makes all this clear.

    Righteousness is by faith – not by Law/self-effort. And not merely justification, but sanctification as well. We as believers will express the righteousness of God only as we abide in Christ, and so He in us. Independence is an impossibility; we are either acting from Christ within us or being bossed about by outer influences (world-flesh-devil).

    This sense of independence is a primary source of world-think in us. Our minds are ingrained with it from birth – thus, the only road to transformation is by mind-renewal (Romans 12).

    Does this negate 1John 1:9, the Christian’s bar of soap? No way. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. But John also says “I write these things to you that ye may sin not.”

    That’s the paradox. We’re told to “be holy.” We’re told to “sin not.” But we can’t on our own steam, our own effort, our own independent thinking. That’s the “trick.” This dilemma shoves us into a despair that leads us out of Romans 7 and into Romans 8, 9, and beyond.

  10. Stacy Grubb

    I’m not sure how to access much older posts that were made here at the RR, but Ron had an excellent series that I feel was life-changing for me and a real moment of awakening. I don’t know how to link to the RR postings (which also had great commentary), but I found it on Ron’s My Space blog. I hope it’s okay if I link to Ron’s blog posts. They’re titled “Driving Out The Canaanites” and elaborate on what Ron is discussing in his above comment.

  11. Bryan

    That is one of the frustrating things about discourse on mediums like this is everything has to be constantly fleshed or given a proper perspective as to what one means.. Thanks for your thoughts but this will be my last post.

    Mike – Sin is no longer a condition of our relationship or righteousness before God, yes I agree. We wrestle with sin not because we are trying to improve on our relationship, but because Scripture exhorts us to. We are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. Then why are we still called to repent? Why are certain things pleasing unto God? How is it we still grieve the Spirit?

    Stacey – Is that not the same? Justifying my actions or “unbelief” as you called it? Just because someone struggles, wrestles with sin, whatever you want to call it does not mean they are in “unbelief”. That is all I am trying to say.

    Ron – Thanks for your reponse. As much as I would like to continue this I just do not have the time. Peace and Blessings.

  12. Ron Block


    Bryan: A book is fleshed out. A short article cannot be, but one of the advantages of this medium is that it is a conversation, a discussion. Thanks for your comments. If there is one thought I can leave you with in short form it’s this: Trust and exalt and magnify by faith the power of Christ in you, and do not put any confidence in flesh-effort or give any attention to “the old man.” We put to death the deeds of the flesh by reliantly trusting in the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    One thing I have realized is that none of us are going to “get this” through mere words. We have to get beat up by flesh-effort, and completely sick of our sinning, sick of what we call “myself” in order to get down to the real self in Christ – that self that is one with Christ, loves God, and loves other people.

  13. Stacy Grubb


    The difference in the context that I meant is that sometimes “but” is used to justify something that a person doesn’t want to change. Sometimes it’s used because a person doesn’t believe that change -reform- is possible, which is what I mean by calling it unbelief. Change is not only possible, it’s inescapable if you’re abiding in Christ. To think otherwise is to not take God at His Word – – expressed via the lard-but.


  14. Ron Block


    Take note that nowhere did I say the words “but” and “positional” are bad or always used to bad effect. I used the word “often” twice, as in “both words are often used as an end-run around the truth.” Often. Not always.

  15. Mike

    Bryan, I see sin as a disease that needs a cure instead of a crime that needs to be punished. God is pleased with me. He is not pleased with that which is causing me harm. Where sin abounds Grace abounds super abundantly. Could this mean that when I am sin sick he provides more medicine?

  16. David

    Brother Mike,
    Sin is a gruesome disease with which we were born infected and Christ is the cure (no “but” so I will say) AND it is also a crime for which a penalty had to be paid. And the Lord will be the judge to confirm who has been found not guilty.

  17. debbie

    Thanks for your post like these . I loved the book by dan stone it influenced me so much in my journey with the Lord. I am involved with a ministry and with the permission of gregory smith
    we did a indepth bible study guide for it. if you are interested I would gladly mail a free copy to you.

  18. Mike

    David, I’m struggling with the whole penal substition theory of Christ’s death on the Cross. I can no longer imagine a God who would beat the tar out of His son so that He would no longer have to be mad at me. Now maybe I’m wrong in my definition of penal substitution. If so you kind folks might be so kind as to clear me up on the whole thing.

  19. Tony Heringer

    This morning I’m reading an application form for a Starbucks Duetto Visa as I’m always enticed by the words “free coffee”. Inside appear these three phrases:

    “No rebate forms”

    “No expiring points”

    “No complicated redemption process”

    Don’t know if I’ll get the card, but I love that last line. I’m all over redemption that is plain and simple. The implications of our redemption are immense. The application is simple. Paul says in Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    Mike, God did not beat the tar out of Jesus. We did that. He allowed it, but we did it. My pastor has a phrase that fits this idea: “God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” He loves to show mercy, but He is just and therefore must also satisfy the law. In Christ both mercy and justice are fully satisfied.

    To read more about it, I recommend the book described by one commentator as “shallow enough for a child to wade and deep enough for an elephant to swim”: “The Gospel of John”. In that book you may end up with even more questions, but you will also encounter The Answer – Jesus. He’s the one that makes our questions matter in the first place. A very great comfort in this and any season.

    Merry Christmas my fellow Rabbit Roomers!

  20. david

    (different david, btw)
    Mike, i’d be curious to know where you gathered that word-image from, the one you used to quickly define penal substitutionary atonement.

    i’ve noticed that it’s easy to remember the way that some of the new Atheists (and even a few emergent thinkers) make a caricature of some aspects of the atonement, and sometimes their language can affect the way we read the Scripture and thus develop the doctrine of atonement in our own minds…

  21. Mike

    David, it simply comes from the understanding that I’ve had about what happened on the cross since I was a child. Its also the reason that I asked folks to clear it up.

    Tony, if we did it, and I am in agreement that we did, then I don’t see that as Christ being a substitute for my punishment.

    Again clear it up for me.

    John 3:16 For God so Loved the World that He Gave…………………..
    John 4 If you knew the gift of God………………………..

    I can’t reconcile any of this with Penal Substitution.

    Do you think that the Law was God’s intention from before the foundations of the world?

  22. david

    Mike – were you raised in Sunday School…? do you remember any particular person/people who framed atonement in terms of the Father enacting violence on the Son with anger as the subtext?

    i was raised in a pretty conservative Evangelical church, and the way i was taught atonement didn’t leave those impressions on me. Dawkins and Hitchens use that framework when talking about the Father and the Son, though, which is why i mentioned that previously…

    not sure if anyone in the Room is a fan of Mark Driscoll, but he is one who puts things simply – his treatment of atonement in Vintage Jesus points out that we can’t rightly think of Jesus’ death (and thus the work of atonement) without also thinking about Jesus’ resurrection. It then becomes difficult to think of God the Father as being angry or beating up His Son when we hold close to the fact that after 3 days, the same Son was raised to new life, exalted above all things. both His death and His resurrection must be held together, not thought of separately.

    i’m interested in someone else’s definition of penal substitutionary atonement, too… particularly Ron!

  23. Tony Heringer

    Yup. The Law doesn’t create sin, it just reveals it. Amos called it a plumb line. Jesus is the ultimate Carpenter and this world is the ultimate version of “This Old House”. At the end of all things, this world will be, once again, a “very good” (Gen 1:31) place to live.

    As to clearing it up, I’d say that has to do with another ‘L’ word – love: the summation of the Law (Mark 12:30-31). Beyond that, I don’t have much else on the topic nor do I want to touch the phrase “penal substitutionary atonement” with Aaron Roughton lurking about. 🙂


  24. Mike

    David pharses like “He took our punishment” gives me the idea and always has (yep I was raised in Sunday School) that we needed to be punished by God because God was mad at us. He punished Jesus instead.

  25. Ron Block



    The atonement. If we think of it in terms of debt, and not punishment, some of the sting goes out of the idea. Lewis said this in Mere Christianity, that it is more the idea of footing the bill, or paying for someone else’s tab. Sin incurs debt, and the debt has been paid by Jesus Christ.

    But here’s the thing – most of us stop right there. “The Gospel is that Jesus paid my sin-debt.” But the real point of what Jesus did on the Cross was to buy us back. Due to the Fall, we were stuck in Eph 2:2, with “the spirit that works in the children of disobedience” in us. The only way out was not merely the substituted death and resurrection of Christ, but a co-death and co-resurrection with Him. To “foot the bill” while still leaving us in our prince of the power of the air-indwelt condition would have been like Adam and Eve being allowed to eat from the Tree of Life in their fallen condition, and then living forever.

    Instead, God took every human being who had believed or ever would believe in Christ and stuck us all in Christ as He was on the Cross. The old spirit that operated in us went into Him, through us. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” When Jesus died, we died. When a person dies the spirit vacates the body. That old spirit went out of us as we died in Him. When the Holy Spirit came into Jesus to reanimate His dead body, the Holy Spirit came into us, because we were in Him.

    That’s the whole point of the Gospel – not merely a substitution, but a redeeming, a buying-back: “The gospel of the grace of God was designed not just to get sinners out of Hell and into Heaven but above everything else to get God out of Heaven and into men.” Major Ian Thomas

    Much teaching centers on the substitution; “Jesus died for our sins, so we can go to Heaven.” But without the exchange of spirits, false world-spirit taken out and replaced by Holy Spirit, what’s the point? I don’t want to merely go to Heaven. I want to be good. I want to be everything God wants me to be. I want to fulfill my mission, my assignments in life. That’s the true heart of every believer, and it can only be fulfilled by the recognition of Christ as our life, our all in all.

  26. Mike

    Co-death and co-resurrection? I thought about Galatians 2:20 today, in particular the “I am Crucified WITH Christ” part.

    Who was the Debt to? Who did Christ buy us back from? If we incurred a debt to God then I have a problem with forgiveness based on the repaying of a debt and not because He loved me. If the debt was to Satan, then doesn’t that give Satan too much power over God’s creation?

    Lets say that I owe you 20 dollars that I can’t pay you back. You demand that the debt be paid, but I simply don’t have the means to pay you back. I do have a friend however who finds out that I am in debt and he slips you a twenty. The debt is satisfied and we are all ok. But there is no forgiveness of the debt, there is no grace. You simply got paid back.

    Now if you say forget about it because I love you and you are more important than any debt that is incurred then I understand grace and forgiveness.

    I don’t mean to seem argumentative, I simply want to understand.

  27. Ron Block


    Mike: When Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world in return for worship, Jesus didn’t say, “They aren’t yours to give.” Jesus didn’t question Satan’s right to give them.

    I don’t have a hard answer for you; I do have some thoughts on the matter. Remember that we are not saved by believing this or that theory about the atonement. We are saved by trusting that, somehow, the death and resurrection of Jesus saves us – by trusting in Christ Himself and not in theories about how He accomplished what He accomplished.

    I expect, based on experience of principles in general, that the universe has various principles at the root of it – principles which, if we go against, we incur a debt. For instance, if I’m on my roof and lose my balance, I will pay a debt to the principle of gravity. If I stand in front of a moving train and it hits me, I will pay a debt to the principle of steel being harder than a human body.

    Maybe the debt which sin incurs is something like that. We have gone against a principle, and a debt is incurred – not an arbitrary debt which could easily be forgiven, but something which, if not set right, will forever be wrong.

    The thing that makes this sound plausible to me is that God Himself paid our debt out of His “great love wherewith He loved us.” George MacDonald hated the thought of his day that said that God was angry and Jesus volunteered to take God’s wrath. MacDonald pointed out that the Son is the express image of the Father. They are no different in their love for us – the Son being made flesh was an expression of the Father’s love for us.

    Jesus bought us back from this bundle of trouble in Eph 2. The mess is in 2-3; what God did is 4-9, and 10 is why God did it.

    2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires​​ of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained​b​ that we should walk in them.

  28. Ron Block



    Tony brings out a good point. We have to get rid of the idea that God and Jesus are not the same in their mindset. Some theology portrays God as the one who is owed and was mad about it and Jesus as the one who volunteered to let us off the hook. But everywhere the Bible contradicts this view. Jesus said, “I do as I see My Father doing” and “My Father in Me does the works.” Jesus is the incarnate expression of the Father, the express image of His being. What Jesus does, God the Father is doing.

    As I said in the earlier post, sin incurs a debt that for some reason cannot just be “forgiven” in the sense of just forgetting about it. There is some principle of the universe that was broken and that principle must have its payment. God purposed to send His Son to foot the bill. I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I know these few facts. God is good – God is mercy – God is forgiving, and He expressed those attributes in His Son and gave Him to buy us back.

    That said, the main purpose of buying us back was as I said before – for God Himself, in Christ, by the Spirit, to indwell us so we could have “everything we need for life and godliness” and live the lives of Love we are created for.

  29. Mike

    If Jesus is the guy slipping God the twenty to buy me back then we end up exactly were we shouldn’t be; with God and Jesus being of a different mindset. Or He is buying me back from Himself for Himself.

    I don’t mean or want to make this hard but it just doesnt’ seem as simple as I was told it was.

    I agree that God is Good, Mercy and Love. I don’t believe that wrath is an attribute like mercy, grace and love, but is an extension of his Love.

    Don’t you guys believe that we (the Church) needs to do a better job with God’s wrath if we are to reach the world.

  30. Mike

    Could it be that God loves every human being ever born unconditionally and religion is an attempt to explain why there is simply no way that can be true?

  31. Ron Block


    Mike: The whole concept of redemption in the Scripture speaks of someone else owning us – the false spirit of Eph 2:2.

    I agree that wrath is an extension of His love.

    A murderer or thief breaks a societal and moral principle; we say they “owe a debt to society.” Even if they become a believer there is still that debt to pay to the societal universe. They may flip flop from being a thief to being a Billy Graham in jail, but still, they’ve incurred that debt and it must be paid. They may get out a little earlier due to good behavior but they’ve still got to pay a large part of the debt.

    Why? Because it would be unfair to other people, especially the people victimized, for the perpetrator to get away with it.

    Justice. It is unjust for a child molester to get off the hook – unjust to the child and to the parents and relatives of that child.

    God is not only goodness, mercy, and love – He is also just – He is into fair play.

    I don’t think it is simple as you are making it. I don’t think God can just “let us off.”

    Col 2:13-14, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…”

    There was something against us – the handwriting of ordinances, the Law. It was contrary to us, because we were contrary to it. A criminal has something held against him – the law. It would be unjust to simply let him off the hook. To “love” the criminal in this way is to refuse to love the victims.

    “The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness…” Rom 1:18

    Note that the wrath is against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The men of Rom 1:18 are the “vessels of wrath” spoken of in Romans 9:22-23. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted​ to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” The word “fitted” is “katartizo” and it is variously translated with the ideas of perfected, equipped, perfectly joined together. These are vessels, or human containers, described in Eph 2:2, and filled with another spirit, not the Holy Spirit.

    Eph 2:2 is the false god to whom wrath comes, indwelling the vessels of wrath. A vessel of mercy contains the God who is merciful. The exchange of gods, false god for true Lord, is primarily what the Gospel is concerned with, because only in being indwelt by the One who made us can we become what He intended. How you or I look at the atonement is secondary to this exchange.

  32. Janna Barber

    Hey Mike. I just looked at your blogger profile which says you’re a s.s. teacher; in the religion industry. Does that mean you teach at a Christian school? I was just curious. It seems like you guys are speaking from very different perspectives on these issues, and I’m trying to figure out

  33. Marit

    I think Ron mentions an important part by mentioning the victims. The psalmists often ask God to do justice to those who has offended them. There are at least three parties: the sinner, the victim and God – one and three. The only party that can both be full of justice and grace is God. He knows the whole picture and is without fault.

  34. Mike

    Janna, have no fear. Our Christian schools are safe. Our government schools on the other hand………………………..Believe it or not I’m a good Baptist boy. I will go to church tomorrow, sing in the choir, etc. I’m just trying to figure some stuff out. I love Jesus with all my heart.

    Ron, I would never allow my son to get off scott free when he is wrong, because wrong might kill him; at a minimum cause him harm. My wrath as an extension of my love would punish him. I may have said this hear before but we live on a road where big dump trucks travel way too fast past our house. I have taught my son to stay out of the road. Stay away from the road. If he is caught playing near the road or heaven for bid in the road I will blister his hind end. Not because he owes me anything but because I owe him something. I owe him love, protection, correction. To allow him to play in the road and never say anything to him would be neglect. The point that punishment is most sever might be the point that he feels loved the least but would be when I loved him the most.

    Now I don’t want to sound like God owes me anything and I owe him for the grace and love that he shows me unconditionally. I love because he first loved me.

  35. Mike

    BTW, I believe that the Cross of Christ is Central to our existence and the humanity would be hopeless without it. I believe that its message better be central to anything we teach as Christians.

  36. Janna Barber

    Wasn’t trying to imply the school wasn’t “safe,” sorry that didn’t come out right. I was actually going to recommend a precepts study I took on Covenants, but didn’t want to assume you wouldn’t know what I was talking about. Anyhow, I do think this “deep magic” is more than we can understand. The trinity is such a mystery; God (the father) essentially gave his own life, through Christ (the son), who said “no one takes it [my life] from me, I lay it down.”

  37. debbie

    I think most of the difficulty here lies in the lens with which we view scripture. some choose to see wrath, some love. The problem is we do not understand or haven;t been taught covenant. we lose a huge amount when we do not understand the difference in the old and new covenant, separation and union. Whenever I read scripture I have to ask What covenant is this person in that is writing this and what is the understanding or light that God has given to that writer. The bible is progressive revelation. a huge part of that is understanding what a covenant is, who are the parties in that covenant and what are the terms of that covenant. As believers here in now we are operating in a whole new covenant relationship with the Trinity. We have the Holy Spirit in us which is the expressor of that covenant between the Father and the Son.
    I am sure that Ron can better express this than I can. all I know is studying covenant and understanding the relationship I now have with God has been so liberating for me. I too have a baptist background but we were not taught this it has been through a lot of struggle and about 3 years in this journey to freedom.

  38. Mike

    Janna, I grew up on Kay Arthur. “Lord I Need Grace to Make It” started the whold Grace thing for me. I’ll check this out. Thanks.

  39. Tim Maggart

    It’s only Rock and Rock, but I like it!
    But for the grace of God, there go I.
    I like it, but I don’t need it.
    It was a great time, but I was ready to come home.
    But God….Eph 2:4

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