December 3, 2016 at 9:55 am #11340
I love praying so much – it’s…peaceful.
….and then I feel awful when I forget but that’s me and I’m working on that part but….
Just…God is so wonderful. He is. And loving. And….wonderful.
….and my grasp of words to describe anything is apparently failing.December 3, 2016 at 9:58 am #11339
Perseverance is the key, Angelique. You don’t have to “feel” the peace. The real peace comes after you have prayed through the storm.December 3, 2016 at 11:31 am #11338
Thus why I like praying.
The problem is the perseverence – I’m really, really bad at that part. I’m good at talking myself out of things and procrastinating and it is endlessly frustrating for me.December 3, 2016 at 12:02 pm #11337
Well then, promptitude and perseverance should be your spiritual project for this season of Advent and throughout the coming year.December 3, 2016 at 12:15 pm #11336
Yes, it absolutely should be…. And is.
*smiles slightly* But I’m procrastinating doing something about procrastinating?
But yes. That is something I should do.February 12, 2017 at 1:18 pm #20980
“Sin is what deprives us of salvation. Sin is what Jesus came to save us from. Through his death on the cross, he redeemed us. But “redeemed” does not give us a free ride. We still have to avoid sin, or we will just fall right back into our former sinful and unsaved state. In other words, we can’t be saved if we keep on sinning, because sin is what lost our salvation in the first place. This is why Jesus and the apostles make such a big deal about morality and behavior throughout the New Testament. We have to avoid sin to avoid losing the salvation Jesus gave his life to obtain for us. It’s not a free ride; we have our part.”
This is perhaps the best explanation that I have heard regarding sin and salvation. I never agreed or understood the Protestant view on salvation. My observation is that they base their salvation on a moment of decision, an emotional response, but think that the one moment of decision is the “grace” that God extends to them without ever having to do anything else.February 12, 2017 at 6:40 pm #20982
I never agreed or understood the Protestant view on salvation.
Unfortunately, there is no one view in Protestantism. The version that you were aware of is generally denied among the mainline denominations. For the most part, mainlines, such as the Methodist denomination in which I was raised, accept that one can lose one’s salvation by sinning. But those who follow the Calvinist tradition — which includes the majority of Evangelicals as well as the Reformed and Presbyterians among the mainlines — do tend to believe as you have described.
The original poster in this thread, Angelique, was raised in an Evangelical environment. I explained the need for “works” in a way that I hoped she could understand. I often have recourse to prayer that the Lord will help me in formulating such explanations and am convinced that this accounts for any success they may attain because, on my own, I don’t do all that well.
DavidFebruary 12, 2017 at 7:34 pm #20983
Even among the evangelicals, their actions speak louder than their words of “Once saved, always saved”. Most of the evangelicals I knew, and I was fortunate enough to be in some really good congregations, very much practised what they preached. In their words, they denied that what they did affected their salvation because of course that was the theology held in good faith, but their actions of prayer for and reaching out toward those who were “fallen away” or “backslidden”, their concern and worry about those same people in the prayer meetings, I think told a different story. Looking back there was obviously some cognitive dissonance going on. Some would resort to the idea that perhaps they were never saved in the first place, but others seemed to genuinely struggle with their theology vs what they observed happening in the lives of these people.
I know that happened with me when a very good friend whose marriage was failing suddenly left the faith, declared that he was a homosexual after a year or two, and began to denounce his faith as a mere phase. We were dumbfounded! I absolutely knew him as a Christian man seeking the Lord and working out his salvation with fear and trembling. I studied and studied this issue and came to the conclusion that you could absolutely walk away from a faith once held. I never openly announced that to my fellow evangelicals, and I knew those who held on to the idea that even though their child was out in the world exhibiting terrible behaviors, because they had been baptised at age 4 and professed the faith, they were indeed still saved; but I could no longer believe that. I had taken a step towards a more mainline theology because of that crisis in the life of my friend.March 29, 2017 at 3:14 am #21632
What you say seems to make sense but scriptural references such as John 3:16, Romans 10:9 and Ephesians 2:8-9 seem to support the view that what is necessary for salvation is to “believe” in Jesus Christ. How do you explain these passages in the context of works being necessary to avoid losing salvation, please? (As opposed to works being the fruit or by-product of a genuine faith).March 29, 2017 at 11:14 am #21635
The key, Roger, lies not in verses — as if divinely inspired Scripture were somehow at war with itself — but in how we (the interpreters) define the word “faith” as it is used in the different passages of Scripture. The classic solution is to be found in the faith of Abraham, which is set forth in Genwesis 15:6: “And he [Abraham] believed the LORD; and he [the Lord] reckoned it to him [Abraham] as righteousness.”
There are two interpretations of this verse given in the New Testament: that of the Apostle Paul in Romans 4:1–5:
What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
And that of the Apostle James in James 2:20–24:
Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Again, we must not simply oppose these two passages, for they are both inspired Scripture. The truth must instead be found in our proper understanding of them, not in their verbal upholding or denial of “works,” but in what “works” each apostle is speaking of and how, in each case, those works are related to “faith.”
In context, Paul is claiming that salvation by faith in Jesus as Messiah is not dependent on the Law of Moses, but rather on the very nature of faith, in the Abrahamic sense. For Abraham preceded the Law by many centuries, but he was still “reckoned as righteousness” through his faith. Paul’s argument, then, is that one does not have to be a Jew to be saved. Instead, he can come to believe in Jesus Christ directly, and thus be saved apart from the Law and its works.
On the other hand, James is speaking of the nature of faith in itself. He points out that “faith” does not mean mere intellectual assent. Otherwise, the demons in hell would have been saved, for they, too, acknowledge God’s existence and power, even against their will (see verse 19). Rather, on a bedrock level, faith involves both intellect and will, a union of the powers of man in his integrity to achieve, through his behavior and his life’s direction, the righteousness offered by God.
Neither apostle denies that this righteousness is given without prior merit; that grace is necessary is admitted by both. Paul states this explicitly, while for James, obedience does not imply merit, but the fulfillment of duty. The point of each is simply that faith does not remove the requirement of obedience to God and right behavior — what we call morality. Thus James points out that it was in obedience to God that Abraham was willing to offer Isaac, while Paul, in many places, insists on believers following God’s moral code, even saying at one point (Romans 2:6–8):
For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
Now we have a clearer understanding of the word “faith” in Scripture, which we can then apply without contradiction throughout. And this should resolve your objection.
My earlier exploration of faith and works in this thread was based on simple reasoning and the realization that we cannot treat either “faith” or “works” only in the abstract, because life is not lived in the abstract, but concretely and immediately. We are what we do. Therefore, even if we (like the demons in hell) acknowledge God as supreme, if we also continue to commit sin, we will not be saved. Like Satan (see Matthew 12:24–26; Mark 3:22–26), we are divided. Our mind goes one direction, but our will goes another; our human integrity is broken, and we cannot stand. This is nothing more than a retelling of James, chapter 2, so that we may properly understand what we are talking about when we discuss faith and works. The two are not opposed, but instead work together, according to God’s providence, to bring us to salvation.
Now, Roger, concerning the the passages you cite as favoring “faith alone,” a quick glance at the context of each shows that this is not true. Rather, each one comes with the proviso of a commitment to obedience and morally upright living.
John 3:16 (16–21): “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”
The words in bold are the condition of God’s offer of salvation. One must abandon sin forever, or faith will be prevented from reaching its goal.
Romans 10:9 (8–10): “But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”
In this passage, Paul is speaking as a traditional Jew to traditional Jews. To a Jew, there are two aspects to faith: the inner conviction of the truth and of trust in God (symbolized by the heart) and the outward expression of it, not only verbally (lips) but in real life, in deeds of righteousness. Thus he says “heart” to emphasize that mere intellectual assent is not faith, while he uses “lips” to refer to all outward expression of faith, in both word and deed, as a traditional Jew would understand it. Faith is an existential commitment, not an intellectual abstraction. It is to be lived, not merely affirmed.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (8–10): “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Faith therefore implies the necessity of good works. Without them, faith is hollow and ineffective. Merit, as mentioned above, is a separate issue, not really connected to the bedrock issue of practical faith. Paul is merely saying that, temporally, faith and justification are prior to merit, because one cannot merit without first being righteous.
DavidMarch 31, 2017 at 9:28 pm #21664
The article I link below, by former Baptist minister Steve Ray, came to my attention after I wrote my reply above. He goes into considerable detail in discussing the question of Abraham’s faith, with reference to the passages in Romans and James that I mentioned. The striking thing is the complete agreement I see between the two expositions. Link.
DavidApril 1, 2017 at 12:38 am #21666
That was in part a highly interesting and highly amusing article to read – thank you so very much for the link!!
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