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Dr. Brown takes your calls on almost every subject under the sun that’s fit for Christian radio, answering your emails as well. You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.

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Other Resources:

Dr. Brown Answers the Rabbis (Part 1)

The Question of Hell and Eternal Punishment

A Word from the Book of Job in the Midst of Injustice and Despair

4 Comments
  1. Dr. Brown,
    You’ve cited John 13 many times to demonstrate (I hope I’m wording this right) “relational forgiveness” versus “salvific forgiveness”; but wasn’t it the case that Peter’s salvation was hinging on his letting Jesus wash his feet – that what you are calling “relational forgiveness” is nothing other than “salvific forgiveness” (cleansing is by the Word [Jn 15:3], and those disciples [Jn 15:4] who don’t continue in that Word fall away [Jn 6:66], and are ultimately – without repentance – cast into the fire [Jn 15:6]). How isn’t it the case that “no part with” Jesus [Jn 15:8] means damnation – how isn’t it the case that Peter’s feet are being dangled over the fire over the requirement that he receive words / be washed?

    Were you just differentiating between the forgiveness that saves a damned person and the ongoing forgiveness that keeps a saved person from becoming damned? Even then, if the ongoing washing is salvific, what was the purpose of drawing a distinction between the two forgivenesses supposed to be? They both seem to be salvific.

  2. Dan1el:

    I hope you don’t mind me responding to this.

    Here’s my understanding on some of these issues raised with concerns to John 13 and 15.

    Looking at John 15:3 “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

    Yeshua is declaring that the ‘ye’ in this passage are saved salvationally. The imagery is that of being clean, or bathed wholly as he speaks of previously in other passages cited below. They are clean by believing the word spoken to them by Yehsua. I’m sure we are both together thus far.

    John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

    This verse I am going to go ahead and combine with 15:5-6

    5. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

    6. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered. And they gather and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

    The point that Yeshua is making is that His disciples need to abide in Him for fruitfulness, fruitfulness is the subject at hand; we must beware the pitfalls of assuming that the branch cast into the fire means that the unfruitful believer will be cast into Hell, and that the exhortation to abide in Him means that he needs to hold on to his salvation by continuing in fruitfulness.

    A sound hermeneutical principle is that the unclear needs to be studied in the light of the clear. The figure of the branch cast into the fire must be studied in the light of a clear declaration of some other passage dealing with the issue of fruitlessness. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is one such passage:

    11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

    12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

    13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

    14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

    15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

    The passage makes it plain that the believer who leads a fruitless life will receive no reward; yet, he will still be saved. Therefore, the figure of the branch cast into the fire cannot refer to an unfruitful disciple being cast into Hell. It may simply emphasize the ministerial worthlessness of a fruitless believer. By extension, the exhortation to abide in Yeshua cannot mean that the believer needs to continually exercise his will to remain saved. It must mean that he needs to avail himself of those means that the Lord has provided him for fruitfulness: prayer (Acts 4:39), meditation in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16), trust (Proverbs 3:5; Matthew 28:18), and action (Matthew 28:19-20).

    Which this brings us to John 13 and the ‘no part with’ Jesus passage.

    This passage can be divided into three units.

    A. Historical Setting – 13:1-3


    Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end, and during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God,

    Insofar as the setting is concerned, it is the Jewish passover. Even before the first night of passover, Jesus knew that this would be His last passover and that He was going to be departing following this passover (v. 1). At passover (v. 2), that is, during the Passover supper, Judas had already decided in his heart that he was going to betray Jesus. Jesus, knowing all this, and knowing he is about to return to God, set the stage for what is about to happen (v. 3). On two occasions during the passover, there is a ceremony known as the washing of the hands. Twice it is hands which are washed and, furthermore, the hands are washed by a servant. That is the normal procedure of the washing at passover.

    B. The Account of the Cleansing – 13:4-9


    . . . riseth from supper, and layeth aside
    his garments; and he took a towel, and girded
    himself. Then he poureth water into the
    basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet,
    and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he
    was girded. So he cometh to Simon Peter. He
    saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
    Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do
    thou knowest not now; but thou shalt
    understand hereafter. Peter saith unto him,
    Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus
    answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast
    no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him,
    Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and
    my head.

    With the background of the Passover, we see the service of Christ. There were no servants at this particular Passover. There were no volunteers from among the disciples to wash the hands of the other disciples so Jesus took the role of a servant (v. 4), and He did the washing (vv. 5-9). While doing the washing Jesus did not wash the hands, but chose to wash the feet (v.5). This raised the question on Peter’s part (v. 6), “Are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered (v.7) that this is something He is doing as a symbol which Peter does not understand now, but will understand later. Jesus clearly indicated a symbolic significance. Yet Peter again protested (v. 8) and said, “you will never wash my feet,” the implication being: I am going to do it myself. Jesus responded. “if I don’t wash you, you have no part with me” (v. 9). In other words, Peter, the symbolism of what I am doing now is not something you can do for yourself, it is something that I must do. At that point Peter submitted to being washed.

    C. The Explanation – 13:10-11


    Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth
    not save to wash his feet, but is clean every
    whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he
    knew him that should betray him; therefore
    said he, Ye are not all clean.

    In these two verses Jesus gave the explanation for his symbolic demonstration of washing the disciples feet. He defined or explained the bathing and the washing (v. 10). “Bathing” is the washing of the entire body which was usually done at a public bath house. This “bathing” symbolizes salvation forgiveness. When a bathed person walked from the bath house back to his home, his feet got dirty, but the rest of his body remained clean; so, his feet needed to be washed upon entering the house. Foot washing symbolizes family forgiveness. When we received Jesus as our savior we received a bathing. We are totally bathed through our salvation forgiveness. However, as believers we still commit acts of sin and that means our feet will get dirty. We need to have our feet washed. Those who have their feet washed are “clean every whit” because the rest of the body is still clean. By salvation, we have every other part forgiven. Foot washing refers to family forgiveness which comes by means of confession of our sins.

    I believe Dr. Brown would agree with the above.

    To respond to your ending commments, “Were you just differentiating between the forgiveness that saves a damned person and the ongoing forgiveness that keeps a saved person from becoming damned? Even then, if the ongoing washing is salvific, what was the purpose of drawing a distinction between the two forgivenesses supposed to be? They both seem to be salvific.”

    That was not the intent. He and I are making a distinction between relational forgiveness and salvific forgiveness. The unbeliever needs salvific forgiveness by placing his faith in Yeshua. The believer is already saved, but is out of fellowship with the Father until he confesses his sin, at which time he is restored to unbroken fellowship with his Father, what we call relational forgiveness or family forgiveness.

    The former forgiveness is for salvation, the latter forgiveness is so the saved may walk in the unadultered joys of that relationship and walk in the Spirit in full fellowship with the Father. So we see one as being salvific and one as being non-salvific, but a restoration of fellowship with our Father.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Not a problem Dan1el. I knew Dr. Brown was busy and I wanted to chime in to maybe clarify the differences.

    Grace and peace,

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