by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland — usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will “accidentally” swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following except was written by Frank back in January 2010. Frank explained how and why a concrete love of neighbor (as in the Parable of the Good Samaritan) glorifies God.

As usual, the comments are closed.

There’s a way in which God is glorified which, I think, we overlook pretty regularly. And I have a passage of Scripture about that which I’d like to present and discuss:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Think about that: for Jesus, it was enough to say that loving God greatly (with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind) and loving men particularly (that is, the same way you love yourself) to warrant the inheritance of eternal life. There’s no mention there of resurrection or repentance, is there? Yet Christ says, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

Was Jesus preaching “sloppy agape”? Where’s the Glory of God? Where’s the law, and man’s inability? Doesn't this conversation intimate a synergistic view? How could the lawyer who was testing Him be “correct” to say that the Law demands love — in the right way, and two different kinds of love to be sure – and that this is enough to gain eternal life?

Now, think on this: the matter of loving God as it is manifest in loving people is what is at stake here. The lawyer asked the question “who is my neighbor” to “justify” himself – that is, either to demonstrate that his first question was not a trap, or to demonstrate that he is not himself a fool for asking a ridiculously simple question.

So the matter of “who is my neighbor” is about how we keep the commandment to love God and love our neighbor. And in that, Christ [as Luke tells it] gives us 3 examples of men who have some relationship with God and with an actual person.

You've heard this sermon before, I am sure: the priest avoided the man; the Levite avoided the man. But the Samaritan did not avoid the man. It seems like a kindergarten Sunday school lesson, I am sure, but let’s think about this for a minute. In John 4, the woman [a Samaritan] at the well said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, John makes clear) That is, the Samaritans worship God apart from the Jews, and the Jews think that because of this, there is enmity between them – the Samaritans are rather less than lovers of God.

But it is the Samaritan who, as Jesus says, “proved to be a neighbor”.

Consider it: the Levite and the priest have the temple, and its sacrifices – but what do those things cause them to do? The Lawyer can cite the Sh’ma, and connect the admonition of the Sh’ma to obey God and His law to the broad command of Lev 19 which says, frankly, that you shall love your neighbor as yourself in a concrete way. Don’t lie; don’t steal; don’t cheat; care for the poor from your own portion; do not take vengeance, and do not do injustice in court. But Christ tells him that loving God requires you to love people. You can't be doing the former unless you are doing the latter.

See: God is glorified when we love. That may seem somewhat uncontroversial to some people, but there’s a reason God is glorified when we love: it is because God loves. The fact – the indisputable fact of the Bible – is that God loves men, and that love is glorifying to God.

Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “What do people say about me?”The disciples answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets.”Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

“You are the Messiah!” Peter replied.

Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him, and began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life.” Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.”

So when the time came, the chief priests and leaders took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

by Frank Turk
My friends and pastors went to T4G last week, and all I got was this lousy blog post.So yesterday we went to church after my friends and pastors came back from T4G, and they all had stories about the things they did or said, and one of the guys recounted an anecdote which needs to be brought to light here, Hiatus or not.

Our local church has really tight connections with an international parachurch organization [IPO] (their headquarters is right down the street), and that parachurch organization has really tight connections with a radio ministry [RM] that used to be sort of globally assisted by this larger parachurch ministry.  The names here are redacted because they are not important.

So my friend from church is seeing his friends from IPO and RM at T4G, and they start chatting about this and that, and someone asks if I'm there.  My friend says no, but he knows I'm listening via the web because I was tweeting the good stuff which I had time to listen to.

So the face/voice of RM says to my friend, “wait, Frank Turk?”

And my friend says, “Yes — Frank goes to the Bible Church.”  And the head of IPO confirms it because he and I have had lunch.

So the voice of RM says again, “Really?  Frank Turk?  He lives in Little Rock?”

And my friend says, “yes.  His kids are in Youth Group.  He teaches Sunday school sometimes.”

And the voice of RM says yet a third time, “The PyroManiac?”

At which point my friend said that he and the leader of IPO started laughing because she was sort of flabbergasted.

And that leads me to this post, which I think is long overdue.  I think my friend was amused because maybe the voice of RM found it hard to believe that anything good could come out of Little Rock.  Maybe she was concerned that such a menace as I can come out of such a stolid and unswerving church as the one which we are members of these days.

I think there's actually a different problem: an on-going confusion in the world between myself and another fellow who probably doesn't realize he's being tarnished by the confusion.

This fellow is Dr. Frank Turek:

Right?  He has a Wikipedia page.  He has written books.  He has a Ph.D. in Apologetics. He has a radio show.  He's a reputable person.  He does not live in Little Rock.  He does not blog at this web site; he never has.  He's a good man.

This fellow here:

Right?  He makes Open Letters and Hitler Responds videos.  He has only been on the radio when Paul Edwards was crazy enough to invite him — and he may have actually gotten Paul Edwards fired.  He writes forewords to books he has never read, and is counted as an anti-Catholic and as the quintessential WatchBlogger by those who do not want to be asked difficult questions.  He is a menace who must be stopped.

He lives in Little Rock.

You will be best-served if you don't confuse them.

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland — usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will “accidentally” swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following except was written by Frank back in June 2010. Frank reminded us of some unpleasant truths regarding how we view others versus how we view ourselves.

As usual, the comments are closed.

We want our heroes to be just like us, and our perceived enemies to be completely unlike us, with nothing in common as if we are not all of Adam’s race, and as if the sin which cannot be forgiven is only possible in someone else’s bailiwick.

That’s the elephant in the room, btw: the way we toss people out of our circle of church with complete regard for their faults and no regard for their merit in Christ.

Let’s face it: we say we believe this —

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. [Rom 5]

I mean: that’s straight up-the-middle Book of Romans. It’s the Reformed Home Court. This is the promise those who have faith and have repented, and if you’re really ready to go for the gusto, those who have been baptized for the sake of faith and repentance, ought to all share.

Paul says in this we ought to rejoice — so all the smart remarks about the Apostle John and John the Baptist being a real gas at parties and whatnot ought to take its snark to Paul and see what he has to say about that.

See: for all the assurance we can derive from Rom 5, and all the exhortations of Paul to be unified under Christ and to let Christ be the basis for unity and fellowship, we also have James telling us this explicitly:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. [James 5]

One simple sentence, but I think we lose the force of it often. Here’s what I think we should read when we see this:

Some people – like you — will from time to time wander away into sin.

Wandering people who have turned away from the truth can be turned back.

When these people turn back, they turn from death to life.

Other people are the instruments of turning the wanderers back to Christ.

James has the audacity to call both the wanderers and those who turn them back “My brothers”.

Isn’t that crazy? Doesn’t that point us exactly to the same place Paul points us to – which is a refuge in Christ when we are confronting people who we believe are turned away from Christ and toward sin? James says that our approach to them, and our reproaches to them, ought to be as brothers and not as toward lawless men or people who are not in our own family.

by Frank Turk
It's sort of an odd hiatus when I keep poking my head back in for this and that (some of it: spoiling Dan's day), but it is what it is.

As some of you know, I have been conducting a dialog with a fellow from Central Time, USA (same area code, even, as me) over at a little blog called Notebook Luncheon.  Bryan is a continualist — a full-on Jack Deere daGifts kind of guy (who, if I am to be fair to him entirely, evangelizes foreign students at the local university, and has a lovely family) — and he and I have been asking each other questions about our place in the question of cessationism vs. continualism.  While neither one of us has any kind of triumphalistic view of the exchange there, I think it has been at least as helpful as my exchange with Adrian Warnock.  The most important thing, I think, in this situation, is that the two sides at least honestly put their differences on the table.  Bryan has done that, and of course I have done that.

The reason I stopped by this weekend was because of the chain of answer Bryan has made regarding whether or not we can tell if the continualist camp is theologically/doctrinally healthy or not.  His view of it, frankly, is that we have to assume the best and forgive the worst — but that the cessationist ought to consider that there's an explosion in moderate/conservative continualism right now.

I think his view of it is naive, and I wanted to spend a few minutes saying why.

1. My first contention is that if Bryan is able to make the claim that there is a “growth” in anything that resembles the net number of Continualists on Earth (and he does), he has all the tools he needs to take a look and see how many of them actually believe and practice his “moderate” version of Continualism — let alone any form more moderate, and especially any form less moderate than he is.  He can't claim, for example, that there is an explosion of continualist scholarship (he can count those noses) and then pretend he doesn't know if they are saying anything unorthodox (he doesn't know if any need a Kleenex?).

2. My second contention is that Bryan has a stunningly-Anglo-centric view of the Christian world.  What I am not saying is that he's any kind of a racist — because I know he is not.  What I am saying is that he somehow only measures the church by the people he can see in his small group at his local church.  I have no idea how he can do that when he, again, wants to make claims about how many new scholars there on on his side.  Maybe he only sees those he likes and ignores those he doesn't like?  If that's true, why is he so worried about all the ruddy cessationists?

3. My last contention is that while Bryan (like Adrian before him) has a crystal ball into the hearts of the Cessationist, where's his crystal ball into the hearts of those who are rightly counted on his side of the ledger?  Is it really so difficult to see that the Continualist movement is really chock-full of those who are far more interested in seed money than they are in the Word of God?  Is it really impossible to see that the followers of those people are legion compared to Bryan's small colony of moderates?  The blind spots which have been demonstrated in the blog so far (not much longer to the end, all) are startling.

That's all.  Have a nice weekend.

by Frank Turk
As many of you know, I am on hiatus, but being like that does not absolve one of his responsibilities to other people.  So for example, if a friend or an acquaintance to whom you own some small debt publishes a book while you are taking a long break from your world-famous blog, it seems right to come out of hiatus for a few minutes and give your friend a hand.  It wouldn't be a sin to do otherwise, but it would be a little thick.Some of you may know Alex from his previous book, Thriving at College. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, he earned a B.S. Degree at Alfred University in Ceramic Engineering and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Material Science & Engineering from U.C. Berkeley. He worked as an engineer for IBM for three years (1996-1999). From 2005-2007 he was an apprentice at The Bethlehem Institute (now Bethlehem College and Seminary), a masters-level theological training program overseen by Pastors John Piper and Tom Steller. During those years, Alex got his start in Christian higher education at Northwestern College. As of 2007, he’s been a professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University.Back in 2011, I met Alex and tried to do a podcasted interview with him, but due to operator error in my equipment use, that never happened.  I dutifully posted a review of his previous book, and promised to help him with his next project as thanks for the time he spent (or wasted, as it might seem) with me at the Little Rock Airport.

This week, Alex is releasing his follow-up book Preparing your Teen for College. To read a thorough review and recommendation of this book, have a look at Bob Hayton's write-up as I think he covers more than enough ground to encourage you to buy this book if you have a teen who you are preparing for college.

However, I do have a few items about this book which you might also enjoy:

1. I really have no idea how the publishing industry decides on titles for books.  Actually, I do, and I hate it.  What Alex has written is a book on teen parenting — which takes a correctly-balanced view of academics in the whole picture of preparing a young person to launch into life — and they have wrapped it in cover which does two things: tries to leverage the franchise created by Alex's first successful book, and misleads you to think this books is really about college.  It's the second part which you ought to ignore because this book really isn't about college so much as it is about focusing on the right critical few items in parenting kids through teen years in our culture so that they will become faithful, useful adults when they leave your home.  There's a better book inside the cover than the title will lead you to believe.

2. It is rare for me to endorse a book over 400 pages which is not a reference book.  I'm endorsing this book in spite of its length.  Personally, I don't have a lot of use for a book which is too long to remember unless it is also worth filling with post-it tabs for reference in the future.  This book, which covers a lot of ground, will be one you'll want to read and mark up before your kids turn 12, refer back to as they turn 14 and 16, and then review and send off with them when they turn 18 and need to know the story behind all the things you expected from them.  To call this a reference book doesn't do it good service, but you will use it for reference after you read it the first time.

3. Alex doesn't need my endorsement. He has the likes of R.C Sproul, Doug Wilson, and Gene Veith endorsing this book. But he gets it because he's the real deal as a professor, a father, and a christian guy.

I'm a fan of Alex.  He would be a good life coach for you as a parent.

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland — usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will “accidentally” swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following except was written by Frank back in January 2012. In the last of a three-part series, Frank explained why the institution of Marriage is vital in order “to fully and rightly demonstrate the Gospel to society.” (The entire series is a transcript of a presentation Frank gave, and is available in audio format here.)

As usual, the comments are closed.

Jesus has a definition of Marriage, and Society needs that kind of marriage – if for nothing else than stability and continuity.  But does the Church need Marriage?  Can the church abandon marriage to the culture and still be the sort of thing Jesus intended?

I think the answer, quite frankly, is no: the church must again bring marriage to society in a way that is greater than the Law.  You see: marriage is a necessary way in which the church brings the Gospel to Culture – and in this case, the Gospel is actually the solution to culture.

This is why our argument for marriage, our apologetic for this union, is not merely an evolutionary argument which says that because there are two sexes, marriage is for two sexes only.  Our argument rests not on the brute fact that men and women exist and seem to have the equivalent of matching Lego parts, but on the matter that God has actually said something about this.

This is the point: God says it.  That is: he makes it clear with words that this is what he means by it.  Jesus sums it up briefly in his response to the Pharisees, but that question of “one flesh” comes up again as Paul instructs the church in Ephesus:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, … that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

And to the wives he said:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Now let me ask you: how can this be translated into a Law when it is in fact utterly the woof and weave of the Gospel?  It cannot be translated into Law.  Trying to do so makes it something which human people cannot do.  You cannot legislate the humility this takes.  You cannot legislate the priorities this requires.  You cannot legislate the profound intimacy this creates.  You cannot legislate the love at the very heart of this relationship which God wrote into the very creation of our kind.

In closing:

The church needs marriage because it is a necessary part of God’s order in creation.

The church needs marriage because broken people need to be sanctified and to learn the meaning of sacrifice and love.

The church needs marriage to fully and rightly demonstrate the Gospel to society.

Is marriage the only way we send this message?  Absolutely not.  But consider the question we are asking today: what do we do about sexual confusion?  What do we do about our society where the norm is quickly becoming illegitimacy and an knee-jerk retreat to divorce when things get hard?  What do we do to show people what virtue is rather than beat them down over their failings when ours are frankly no less visible or obvious?

If our concern is whether or not our culture understands the right roles of men and women under God’s design and authority, the solution to the culture is the Gospel – as wrapped up in the design of marriage.  Missing this, and setting our hope on the transforming power of the Law rather than on the work of Christ in the message of the Gospel, is never going to achieve what we intend to achieve.

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland — usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will “accidentally” swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following except was written by Frank back in February 2007. Frank pointed out the necessity of the right kind of hermeneutic.

As usual, the comments are closed.

Can the Bible be figured out? If Deu 6 is one explanation of what Scripture is and does, how does it turn out that so many people disagree about what Scripture says, and how do I make sure that I don’t fumble the football?

We have to use Scripture the way Christ used Scripture. We have to use it the way John the Baptist used it. We have to use it the way Paul and Peter used it – and Stephen, and James, and John and Matthew and Mark and Luke.

You know: the hermeneutic of the men who delivered the word of God to people as prophets and apostles is not actually a very complicated hermeneutic. It is a rigorous hermeneutic, to be sure. And it is hardly an “objective” hermeneutic in the sense that it calls for the reader to be sort of a flavorless paste. And it requires something from us, to be sure. The position these men all put Scripture in was one which is above human reasoning in such a way as to guide and form human reasoning.

But the problem with people today is that we prefer a more-complicated hermeneutic. We have things we like just the way they are, and sometimes we want to find a way to justify that. We can do extraordinary linguistic studies to find out if God saved anyone eternally in the Old Testament in order to justify our truncating of the New Testament expression of salvation; we can do the same thing to make a sin out of wine-drinking, and out of married love, and to tone down the problem of excessive riches because we live in an excessively-rich society. We can use Scripture to buttress our beliefs in the church to make it more than it ought to be, and also less than it ought to be.

What we ought to do with Scripture is come to it in complete poverty and desperation, knowing that it is the wisdom of God which makes the wisdom of men look like foolishness. Our hermeneutic ought to be one where we frame ourselves not as peers to the writer but as abject beggars before the writer. Our hermeneutic ought to be the sinner who will die without God’s intervention.

That’s what Deu 6 says, isn’t it? The word God has commanded is there for us to remember who God is when we think we have enough that we can live without Him. The word of God ought to be taking us down a notch from satisfied to grateful, from safe to seeking refuge, from comfortable to poor in spirit. You can know your conclusion about the word of God is sound when what you have brought out of the text something you could have never put in there. When you are a student of the text, drawn there by God’s wisdom in the face of your own foolishness, you will be getting it right.

by Frank TurkDan did a great job yesterday pointing at the dog's breakfast which Donald Miller recently shared regarding his view of the local church.  However, because my hiatus is actually in large part about the local church in a very huge way for me personally, I have a few hundred words to add to the topic.

It has to get old eventually for anyone to claim they love Jesus and therefore the broad spectrum of all the people he saves BUT they can;t possibly spend time with the people God has called out together in any specific local church.  When I say “old,” I mean like that vermin your cat killed and dragged under the sofa — stinky, rotten, dead, and likely to make everyone sick.  What a complete pile of rubbish that somehow we get closer to Jesus by staying away from the object of his work and desire.

Let me start here, which is to say where the Apostle John started:

By this [that is: the sacrifice of Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit] is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4)

Right?  And just in case someone thinks that John means, “we ought to love them in theory and by some kind of epithetical formality, but not anyone personally,” he also said this:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3)

Not in talk or just with words, but in deed and truth.  That is: you should do something with this love you allegedly know and receive.

What that means is this: because we know what love is in Christ's death for us, it's a necessary consequence that we actually love people.  But look at the qualifier that John makes in that statement: “He loved us first.”

He loved us FIRST.

Think about how that works.  The “first” means “before we were perfect and holy.”  That is: God loved us while we were still sinners.  And John's call to love is to love “brothers” — which here means “those who have seen God and know Him.

John's call, then, is primarily (though perhaps not exclusively) to love the people in the church you are in, without regard to how perfected they are right now.

That's what causes us to understand how fraudulent the claim that one can love Jesus but not any specific local church is: John says those who cannot do this are liars, and they have never seen God.

Because I am on hiatus, and I am really up to my armpits with things related to that, that's where I'm going to leave it with you: have you seen God?  Are you not a liar?  Then love the people God loves — not in theory or merely with words, but truly, with your stuff, and with your person.

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland — usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will “accidentally” swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following except was written by Frank back in August 2010. Frank pointed out two senses in which faith saves.

As usual, the comments are closed. 

So I ask you: how much faith do you need, really, to be saved?

One answer the NT gives us is this: you don't really have to know anything to be saved. That is, you can have the faith of a little child, and God will welcome you (cf. Mt 18:1-6). You can have a simple faith, a milk-drinking faith (cf. 1Cor 3), and be saved.

But there's another piece of the NT which frequently gets soft-soaked, and it's the answer which James gives: while a simple faith saves, it does not save only in the eternal sense. That is: it saves you to maturity: 

the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

That is, your simple faith is also a living and breathing faith which grows you through trials to a “complete faith.”

Many folks read this – rightly, btw – to mean “a right faith does works”, and that's fine. That's a good application. But is it the only application? Is it the only one James intends here?

For example, when James says, 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

isn’t James saying that God's word is there so that we can take action upon it, and learn how to live in faith?

And glancing up this post a second, isn’t it also Paul's point in 1 Cor 3 that the Corinthians ought not to be forever babies in the faith, but that eventually they have to move on to the meat of the word? That is: their faith ought to make more of them, and be more to them than (as Paul implies) baby food.

So in that, there is a second answer to what you ought to know to have a saving faith: it ought to be true, and correct, insofar as you are mature and maturing in your faith.

What Scripture teaches us is what we must accept as the truth about our faith. And as we advance out of spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity, the burden upon us to accept and demonstrate the truth in Scripture becomes a greater responsibility. This is why the warning to teachers is such a serious thing; that's why the anathema against a different gospel – and the criteria for knowing what that is – is an anathema and not just a rebuke.

And for good measure, think about this: that's why John called the Pharisees who came to see him a brood of vipers, and why Jesus called the same men whitewashed tombs — because the Gospel had not changed, but these men, who ought to have known better, did not know it when they saw it.

You don't need a perfect confession to save you, but you do need a faith which is perfecting you, not leading you into more error.