JESUS VS PAUL #12: all justified or not?

Polycarp, a friend of the blog, showed me this website which has a numbered list of apparent discrepancies. He suggested we tag team in dealing with some of them. I addressed the first five. Polycarp addressed the next five. I have created a page with the apparent discrepancies. Then I thought I would continue for a few more at least.

The following is taken from JESUS VS PAUL #12: all justified or not?

12) Paul–“And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39) versus Jesus–“…but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:32) and “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29). According to Jesus you can never be justified for all things

First let us look at Acts 13:38-41 in the NIV

38“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. 40Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
41” ‘Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.'”

And Acts 13:38-41 in the NASB

38“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,

39and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

40“Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:
41‘BEHOLD, YOU SCOFFERS, AND MARVEL, AND PERISH;
FOR I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS,
A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE, THOUGH SOMEONE SHOULD DESCRIBE IT TO YOU.'”

First, Paul was clear that through Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed, and EVERYONE who believes is justified from all things – but notice that he added “from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses”. This phrase can be read to mean that believers are justified from the things from which they could not be justified from through the Law (as the NIV renders it). Or it can be read to mean that believers are justified from all things, which could not be done through the Law (as the NASB renders it). Either way, we know that Paul wrote in Galatians 2:16 that we are NOT justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in Christ – indeed, no one is justified by observing the Law. So we are justified from all things if we believe.

Galatians 2:16 (NIV)

know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:16 (NASB)

nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

That being the case, the key to what Paul said in Acts 13 is actually, “everyone who believes.” This is underlined by the quote Paul gave, which he WARNED his listeners to not allow to happen to them: “I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS, A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE.” The key is to be justified, one must believe in Christ.

Now let us look at Matthew 12:30-32 in the NIV:

30“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

And Matthew 12:30-37 in the NASB:

30″He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
31″Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
32″Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

33″Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.
34″You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
35″The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.
36″But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.
37″For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

In this passage, Jesus has said EVERY sin except blasphemy will be forgiven men. But notice what Jesus said in the next paragraph. He said that good trees are known by their good fruit and bad trees are known by their bad fruit. He said that what comes out of your mouth is an example of your heart condition. So if someone says something against the Holy Spirit, then they are giving an example of what is, or (in this case) is not, in your heart. If you speak against the Holy Spirit, you don’t believe, and are in fact against Christ (v 30).

This is easier to see in the passage Mark 3:28-35 (NIV):

28I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

31Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

The passage in Mark 3:28-35 (NASB):

28“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;

29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

30because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him.

32A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”

33Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”

34Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!

35“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

In this passage, we see the same thing we saw in the Matthew passage – all sin except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven. But then Jesus made the point that people in His family, the family of God, are those who DO the will of God. The implication being that if you are in the family of God (which one becomes a member of when one has faith in Christ), you will DO the will of God. And obviously, it is against the will of God to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. So if you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, then you are NOT doing the will of God.

So it turns out that it is not difficult to reconcile what Paul and Jesus said. Paul said IF you believe, you are justified from everything. Jesus said you can not be forgiven if you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, but He also pointed out that IF you do that, you are not in the family of God. To be in the family of God, you must believe (Ephesians 1:5). Therefore, if you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, you never believed to begin with (because what comes out of the mouth is indicative of what is in the heart). If you never believed, then you were never justified to begin with.

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