Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Examining A Popular Quote Further

If you havene't participated yet, please answer both questions, if you will. If you already have, please add your answer to the comments for question #2. You all are great!
"Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone"

QUESTION #1: Can it be stipulated to that what the quote implies is that there will be works along with the faith?

In other words, this quote does not say what specifically it is that accompanies faith, but I think that the quote implies that there will be works, evidence of a changed life, love of the brethren and all the things that we know the Bible teaches that a Christian will have as he walks in the Spirit. Can we all, those who enjoy the quote, and those who question it, agree that this is what the quote is saying? Do we all see that these things I have listed are the implied accompaniments?

QUESTION #2: Is "being saved" (as in justification) a thing that happens in a moment of time... or is it a process? Do we all agree that when the Bible says we have "passed from death to life" that this was something that has already happened at a "point in time"?

I need to know these things. Thank you for your participation.


  • Hi, Rose! Sorry I jumped in earlier without a shout-out. :(

    Like I responded initially in the previous post on this, I thought that it was referencing the Spirit, not works or any accompaniments to faith. I don't chuck Colin's explanation of the evidences that accompany faith as I find that a very wise thing and my experience seems to support it. But like you, I wonder what it may mean to someone simply unable to grow or change.

    Do we know the origin and original intent of this - or is the setting it is primarily used in fairly established.

    By Blogger Missy, at 11/20/2007 1:23 PM  

  • Greetings Rose- how are you?

    I personally think the quote isn't worth keeping or saying. On the one hand it tries to maintain the idea that faith alone brings about salvation, and while on the other hand supplies the caveat to overcome the obviously unfortunate implications that arise from it.

    As far as to what the quote intends, it seems clear that it intends to mean 'works' as what accompanies faith, since 'works' are the very thing the beginning portion of the quote is trying to exclude. The quote finds its context within Protestant reactions to more historic understandings of faith and salvation; thus it would seem reasonable to assume that 'works' is within its purview.

    btw- I have a new website now: deviantmonk.com

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 11/20/2007 1:50 PM  

  • If we were to change what we think this infers to (as we very well could) - like to the Spirit as I thought it might, could it be true?

    By Blogger Missy, at 11/20/2007 5:09 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I have always understood the quote, not to imply accompaniments, but rather to qualify the kind of faith that saves - to differentiate it from the kind of faith that does not save. the faith that saves is a living, (Spiritual life producing) faith, and the kind of faith that does not save is described by James as a dead faith - a faith that produces nothing, an intellectual assent, if you will.

    The quote finds its context within reformers reactions, not to the cumulative corruption of the gospel that held sway in Rome at the time, and continues to dress itself up as historic Christianity, but rather to the notion that one can be justified in a vacuum; that is, void of sanctification - for the same Spirit who justifies, sanctifies.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/20/2007 5:48 PM  

  • Rose,
    I've always taken it to imply that works will accompany(as a product of) real faith.

    It does not mention a distiction between types of faith, as it speaks of "faith alone", although it dangerously leaves itself wide open to be taken in that direction. That's why, while it has some value, it's a mediocre quote IMO.


    By Blogger Todd, at 11/20/2007 9:35 PM  

  • I agree with your thoughts on what this quote is saying. You said it nicely earlier, the BUT is a qualifier that cannot escape(case closed). :)

    Also I need to apologize publicly to Jazzycat for my STUPID reference to the Matthew verse in the other comments.Although I agree with Rose in her attempt at accounabilty, I am sorry, Jazzycat, I had no business going that far.

    By Blogger Kris, at 11/20/2007 10:30 PM  

  • I need to "add"(LOL) to my comment above.

    I think the quote is clearly adding a qualifier to faith. It states "...BUT the faith THAT SAVES is never alone".

    Doesn't sound "reasonable" for a person who has faith in Christ to ask what the "faith that saves" really is, when from the moment he/she believed there wasn't any if, ands, or buts to it?

    What if someone said:
    Faith alone saves AND the faith that saves is always alone.

    By Blogger Kris, at 11/20/2007 11:02 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose:

    You wrote: I think that the quote implies that there will be works, evidence of a changed life, love of the brethren and all the things that we know the Bible teaches that a Christian will have as he walks in the Spirit.

    Taking the quote as it stands, and devoid from any historical connection, I would tend to agree with you on this one. Faith alone justifies, and then, once it has justified the soul, (being the instrument of justification) goes on to produce good works etc., which are evidence of the justified state. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

    Missy: While accepting that folk may struggle long and hard to grow and change, yet salvation from the power of sin (sanctification)is as much a reality, as salvation from the penalty of sin (justification. We really do feel for those professing Christians who struggle hard. I would look very favourably on their desires to go on with God and their recognition of their failures. It is the ones who profess to be saved, but have no desires for holiness etc., and are happy with the status quo of defeat that would cause me worry. Often you find that some who say that they have no time for Bible studies and prayer meetings etc., can find time for other things that are less designed to aid their groweth in grace, if even at all. I know that it is not a matter of "clocking up meetings" but nevertheless, the fellowship of the saints is the place to be at th appointed hour. "There am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20)


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/21/2007 5:48 AM  

  • Missy,
    If that is what it meant, I would certinaly not want to take issue with it, not very much anyways. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 11:21 AM  

  • Monk,
    That link won't work.

    I think I see the quote a lot like you do. Thanks for visiting!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 11:45 AM  

  • Hello Daniel,
    Thanks so much for visiting.
    I see what you say about how you take the quote to be differentiating between "kinds" of faith, hence the article '"the" faith that saves...'

    Would it be accurate, though, to your understanding, to say that the thing that differentiates "the faith that saves" from an "inferior faith" would be that it is accompanied by something? ...and would it be fair to surmise from your comment that the something... is progressive sanctification? Let me know if I have this right.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 12:12 PM  

  • Todd,
    You don't like the quote either. OK, but I can see what Daniel means about the "kind of faith" because it says "THE faith that saves." I think that your first sentence is a fair rendering of the idea held in the quote.

    Yeah, I wondered about your reference to Matthew when you said that to Jazzy. I thought it was a very strong thing to say. The more I thought about it through the day, I figured you did not mean it that he was a "child of hell" but that being mean-spirited was what the Pharisees were teaching their followers to do. Apparently, you meant it in a different, stronger way than that way and thus you now apologize. This is good. I don't know if he will read this or not, but I am glad for your apology.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the quote. I am exporing in my thoughts your new, revised version of the quote.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 12:18 PM  

  • Good evening, goodnight,
    (that sounded funny)
    I so appreciate your articulation of the this!
    Faith alone justifies, and then, once it has justified the soul, (being the instrument of justification) goes on to produce good works etc., which are evidence of the justified state.

    This will help in answering my next question.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 12:20 PM  


    Is "being saved" (as in justification) a thing that happens in a moment of time... or is it a process? Do we all agree that when the Bible says we have "passed from death to life" that this was something that has already happened at a "point it time"?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 12:23 PM  

  • Rose,
    Honestly, I'd have to say I can see how it can be taken just as Daniel takes it.

    Although that brings up the issue of 'saving faith' vs. 'faith that does not save' which is a very controversial area.

    It would be very satisfying to know exactly who the author of the quote was(likely several possibly) and listen to how they would fill it out. As it is, it's constructed in a way open to various interpretations. Whereas the bible is not(Oooo?).

    Peace, grace, love, unity...Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/21/2007 12:37 PM  

  • Is "being saved" (as in justification) a thing that happens in a moment of time... or is it a process? Do we all agree that when the Bible says we have "passed from death to life" that this was something that has already happened at a "point it time"?

    Hi Rose, Justification is definately something that happens in a moment of time i.e. upon the act of faith in Jesus Christ(Romans 5:1) - the word act being significant. Justification cannot know anything of degrees - we either are or we aren't and if we are, we are 100% justified and that for ever.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/21/2007 1:01 PM  

  • Goodnight,
    Glad to hear it! I would hope that all of us "evangelicals" view that the same way. Great articulation... thank you thank you. :~)

    What do you mean act of faith? I have used that phrase before too (and have heard many others) but I want to know exactly what you mean by it, because you say the word act is significant to your understanding. Thank you again for your graciuos interaction on the subject. I thought the case was closed, but I started thinking some more, not without thanks to you. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 2:32 PM  

  • Glad to be able to help ailttle, Rose. Actually, I had in mind more of justification being an act of God's free grace and the use of this being significant in that it is not a work of God's free grace (as sanctification is)and therefore progessive.

    I have always viewed saving faith as being active - it is more than a passive acceptance of sound doctrine, but a leaning upon or a putting of trust upon. I am sure you are familiar with the old illustration of Blondin the tightrope walker who walked across the Niagra Falls. Every one clapped and whistled. He asked how many believed that he could successfully carry someone on his back and return over the falls again. Everyone signalled their belief, but when he asked for a volunteer, it was a different story. :-)


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/21/2007 2:56 PM  

  • Rose,

    #1: It is a bad quote in the sense that it confuses the simplicity of faith. There is only one kind of faith, you either have faith or you don't. There is however degrees of faith and the practice of walking by faith.

    I think this quote speaks to the area of actually walking by faith, since faith is only activated in the daily sense by the willingness to put our faith into action.

    #2: We are saved the moment the Holy Spirit indwells our spirit. This is 100% justification imputed to our account.

    We are being saved (sanctification) by the transforming of our mind, as we walk in the light and obey the Spirit's leading.

    We will be saved fully when this mortal body puts on immortality.

    By Blogger Jim, at 11/21/2007 3:12 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I’m not sure you’ll know anything from my answers but I’ll sure feel better for having fulfilled your request! ;-)

    #1 I think the quote could mean several things, for example at the moment we believe both the Word and the Holy Spirit are present. To directly answer your question though, YES. It could be taken as you suggest. I would agree with most here that this quote is not helpful.

    #2 We come to life at the instant of birth consequential to the conception of God’s grace and our faith. We grow if we live by the Word of God. We will faint if we fail to avail ourselves of that sustaining nourishment.

    By Blogger Kc, at 11/21/2007 3:49 PM  

  • goodnight,
    you said, "act of faith in Jesus Christ - the word act being significant" in your first comment, now you say "act" was meant "more of justification being an act of God's free grace", so I am getting a little confused about what you mean. Wanna help?

    You say it well. That is a great overlook at this topic. Thanks for your part in the discussion.

    Hello! If the quote was meant the way you say in your first couple of sentences, it would be great! No one is Christ's unless he has His Spirit. From what I can tell, it usually is meant the other way though, that I suggest... and I have yet to see any of those who like the quote tell me that it means what we would both appreciate it to mean about the Spirit simply being present when one believes. I also see it the way you do in your #2.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/21/2007 4:56 PM  

  • Hi Rose, you asked, "Would it be accurate, though, to your understanding, to say that the thing that differentiates "the faith that saves" from an "inferior faith" would be that it is accompanied by something?"

    I think that would be an inaccurate and misleading way to articulate the difference between genuine and counterfeit faith. It suggests that what is being proffered as saving faith is actually an amalgamation of faith "plus" something, and that what is being proffered as "inferior" is in fact the same kind of "faith" but with no strings attached. That would be twisting the thought 180 degrees, so as not only to obscure what is actually being said, but to paint it with such strokes that it says the exact opposite of what it is trying to articulate.

    Instead, the difference between genuine and counterfeit faith is not a question of accompaniment, but rather a question of quality.

    I have two gas cans labeled "gas" - one with genuine petrol, the other with some non-combustible liquid. I pour one into one car, and the other into another car. The car that runs has genuine gas, and the car that does not has "counterfeit" gas. it isn't that the genuine gas was "accompanied by" combustibility, and that the water wasn't - it is that the nature of Gasoline is that it is combustible, and the nature of water is that it is non-combustible.

    Thus saving faith produces sanctification - not because it is accompanied by spiritual life, but rather it is the nature of faith to produce spiritual life, and a counterfeit faith fails to produce genuine life because there is no life in its nature.

    One can push the water-in-the-gas-tank car around while playing a CD of "real car noise" - and even be persuaded that this is what everyone who drives a car must do, and do so for years, but it is no where near the same as the car that produces its own power.

    Saving faith produces life like a fountain of living water - that is - like an "artesian well" - you don't have to pump it, you don't have to draw it out yourself, it comes bubbling up out of you.

    Counterfeit faith has no artesian well - whatever water you draw out is drawn out in your own strength, and though the clever and the zealous may well work hard to make their efforts give the semblance of an artesian well - deep down they will -know- that they themselves are the author of their own efforts, even if to pacify their fears they tell themselves it is really Jesus doing it.

    The difference therefore is not a question of accompaniment.

    Let me know if that makes sense or not.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/21/2007 5:36 PM  

  • Hey Rose- try the link again- sometimes you have to reload it to make it work- something with the server that I'm trying to get resolved.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 11/21/2007 5:57 PM  

  • Rose,

    Faith is not enough, says Daniel.

    One must have a WORKING faith.

    How is that any different than

    faith + works = final salvation


    Why is it when we get to the realm of theology, we chuck out common sense? Faith is not some kind of esoteric, spiritual thing that takes dissertations to define.

    Faith is being persuaded that something is true.

    Does real faith always produce works commensurate with its beliefs?

    Let me ask you all out there a question:

    Do you all believe, are persuaded, are convinced that diet and exercise can save you from the deadly consequences of heart disease?

    Well why aren't ya'll getting off your rears and doing some exercise? Why aren't ya'll throwing out all the junk food?

    Maybe you only have a spurious faith...

    I believe that I have 5 fingers on my hand. What works is that supposed to produce? The sober conviction that one has 5 fingers on one's hand is as much faith as some horrible news like a relative passed away. Emotive behaviors do not define faith.

    I believe that Jesus has guaranteed my eternal well-being. What works are the necessary result of this belief?

    Gratitude is a huge factor in producing works. Faith can be also. But it is plainly and manifestly evident that just because one believes something doesn't ensure works being done as a necessary result.

    Why is theological belief some huge thing? Why have we made it any different than what everyday faith is?

    I believe that there will be family members on thanksgiving that will get drunk and make fools of themselves. What works are the necessary results of this faith?

    Must I preach to my family the dangers of drinking in excess or my belief is not real?

    To say that faith produces works is merely non sequitor.

    To make saving faith any different than everyday faith is to create a superior class of faith.

    But what makes saving faith saving is not the type of faith exercised.

    It is the object of the faith:

    Jesus the Christ of Nazareth, Son of God and King of Israel.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 11/21/2007 10:36 PM  

  • Hello everyone, jumping in on this thread for the first time.

    I do like the quote in question.

    Daniel said,

    "Thus saving faith produces sanctification - not because it is accompanied by spiritual life, but rather it is the nature of faith to produce spiritual life, and a counterfeit faith fails to produce genuine life because there is no life in its nature."

    I agree with this. In previous discussions I have used the illustration of a crayon. Let's say I pull a crayon out of the box, and the color of it is blue, it is wrapped in blue paper, and printed on the paper is the word "blue". But when I use that crayon to write my name on a piece of paper, it marks in red. Is the crayon red or blue? Obviously red. But is the crayon red because it wrote in red? Of course not. It is the opposite, it wrote in red because it is red.

    So we can apply the same to saving faith and justification. Am I justified because I did works? No, I do works because I am justified. As Daniel said above, it is my nature now (since I've been given a new one). Now, I will say that the quality and quantity of works may vary significantly from person to person. Other people (besides God) may never even know of the good works done. But they WILL be done, "somewhere, sometime, somehow", due to the nature of saving faith.

    By Blogger Rachel, at 11/22/2007 1:05 AM  

  • Not to be "unoriginal", but here is a link that might help (or might not :-) ). Food for thought, anyway.

    By Blogger Rachel, at 11/22/2007 1:28 AM  

  • Good morning, Rose!

    I can see where I might have confused you. I had two different (although related) thoughts in my mind at the same time and I was thinking along one line, while commenting on another. I was associating the word "act" with "justification" in my thoughts rather than with "faith" (in my writing) and commented that it was significant. It is true (as later explained) that act is also associated with faith ("an act of faith") but I would not normally have drawn special attention to that , taking it for granted. I hope this clears up the misunderstanding.

    Re: The presence of the Spirit when a soul believes as mentioned by KC: It is the Spirit who brings the soul to faith in Jesus Christ and if anyman have not the Spirit, then he is none of His [Christ's] - Romans 8. A man who has Christ has the Spirit. A man that has the Spirit has Christ. Again, it is not either/or. The great question must always be if we are wondering in this matter is: Am I looking to Christ alone as my Saviour? (John 3:14-15)


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/22/2007 1:59 AM  

  • Morning Rose/Antonio:

    Antonio: You seemed stuck ("bogged down" as they say in these parts) at this thought that those of us who believe in justifying faith (which is so because it looks to Jesus Christ alone for its justification, without the deeds of the law) believe that such faith produces works. I know that reducing these things to a mathematical formula seems very simplistic, but your comments suggest that the only alternative are dissertations so we'll go for the easy option.

    1) Your view of our position: F+W=J
    2) Our actual position: F=JW

    They are as different as night to day.

    You write: To make saving faith any different than everyday faith is to create a superior class of faith. A man who believes to the saving of his soul does so through grace (Acts 18:27) It is a faith that is wrought by the mighty power of God who works in us both to will and do His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:19/Philippians 2:13) I don't think that those who believe that 1+1=2 usually claim such divine intervention.

    You are right to say that the object of faith makes it saving. I agree, but the "faith in His blood" that brings remission of sins (Romans 3:25) is (as said above) Spirit wrought. Illustrations like: Those who believe that eating junk food is harmful but still indulge have a use, but only as an limited illustration rather than a full blown parallel. All the glutton has in these circumstances is mere knowledge. Faith takes knowledge and acts upon it. Millions of people out there know the facts of the gospel and believe there is eternal life in looking to Christ. But they still haven't looked and many of them won't look because they love darkness rather than light.


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/22/2007 3:55 AM  

  • Oops!

    I see my formula didn't show up properly.

    It should read:

    2) Our actual position: F=J pointing arrow to W

    Or: Faith equals justification leading to works

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/22/2007 3:57 AM  

  • One could simplify it another way too GoodNightSafeHome.

    Saving faith = indwelling of the Holy Spirit (who immediately working sanctification in the believer.)

    Counterfeit faith = no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and thus no sanctifying work (other than self-motivated outside-of-the-cup-only polishing)

    Technically speaking, I don't think it is genuine faith that "produces" works, rather only genuine faith ends in the indwelling of God in the believer, only genuine faith results in a union with Christ, and so only genuine faith enables the inevitable ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit to make believers Holy.

    No Holy Spirit = no sanctification.

    Holy Spirit = unavoidable sanctification.

    Hi Rose~
    in answer to the other question, we are justified from the very moment we are united by faith in Christ and consequently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not justified, and anyone who has, is. It is not progressive, because unlike sanctification it is not experiential but forensic - we are declared righteous in Christ, but we are made holy in the flesh over time.

    Antonio asks:
    Faith is not enough, says Daniel. One must have a WORKING faith. How is that any different than faith + works = final salvation

    Actually what I said was that saving faith always produces life, and that dead faith never does.

    If you have trouble with that, picture an olive branch grafted into a grape vine. If the graft is genuine, the olive branch will become a conduit for the vine, bearing grapes in their season: because the olive branch has become an extension of the grape vine. If the olive branch does not bear the grapes of the vine, it is because it is not really connected to the life of the vine - and it will either wither and die, or it will find root outside the vine and produce olives and not grapes.

    Those who are grafted into Christ produce the fruit of Christ - period.

    It amazes me Antonio that you don't get this.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/22/2007 8:38 AM  

  • Daniel,
    I must be confused. Do you like the quote? I thought you liked the quote and you believed it was referring to quality of faith. I assumed since you liked the quote then the "never alone" part of the quote was what changed the quality.

    Maybe you don't really care for the quote after all.

    I agree with several things you say as you explain further what you think of this subject.

    The one big thing I can't get past with your thoughts here is this idea of a "counterfeit faith."

    Here is a story: If I found myself suddenly being born again NOW, (even though in my perception I had believed in Christ 21 years ago) how would I reason that "I had an inferior faith." I may come to the conclusion that I really did not trust Christ back then, but had held onto doubts or something like that. In this way, I would end up with the conclusion that I never had *faith* at all. I see no reasonable thought process that would lead me to say that I had "mere mental assent" or some "inferior faith." I would have to conclude that there was something I didn't "get" ... something in the content of my faith that was missing... or something in my true reliance upon Christ for eternity that had been missing in my understanding.

    Does that make any sense? I don't see this "inferior faith" idea spelled out in the Bible at all. It seems to go beyond the simple meaning of these words.

    For example, say there is a brother who believed in Christ and was fully persuaded that Christ could and would deliver him to the finish line and he believed this for himself. Years later, after living in the flesh and not learning of the Lord, he commits himself to the Lord, to live for Christ. If he really trusted in Christ before, that was saving faith. Now he is adding to faith a commitment to live for Christ. As important and good as that is, it doesn't not save him or justify him any more than his simple, childlike faith in Christ did years earlier. It might be more dramatic and evident to those around him, but to say that it is superior would be adding to faith... faith in the undeniable fact that Jesus Christ is able to save him to the uttermost when he comes to God through Him.

    Do you see my concern at all?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2007 1:00 PM  

  • Goodnight,
    I will get back to this, I have Thanksgiving stuff to do.
    American. :~)

    Thanks, Antonio for your visit.

    Thanks Rachel, and Welcome!

    I have thoughts on your thoughts, but I gotta run for now. Be back later...

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2007 1:03 PM  

  • Guys, gals, of the 'different kinds of faith' persuasion.

    I'm wondering. Do Christ or the Apostles ever delineate between faith that saves and faith that does not? Sure, there are times when they describe some supposed faith as not real faith, and that would mean that it's simply not faith. Faith that Christ speaks of is one thing. A wolf in sheeps clothing is still a wolf.

    Because it seems like according to Paul, many people do not act on their faith unto performing good deeds prepared beforehand by the Lord and must be encouraged and even taught to do so, unto the immediate birth of the long sanctification process, and yet he regards them as saved.

    So the question "how does the bible itself make the distinction between one kind of faith and the other? This question plagues me when I try to fathom how there is faith that is 'saving faith' and also 'faith that does not save'. Genuine faith or not genuine faith. It's counterintuitive to my understanding of faith.

    There must be a better explanation in the bible of 'saving faith' than the presence of works, because that simply defines faith.

    Can anybody help me out here? Daniel? Colin? Or anybody?

    How exactly does the bible support any other kind of faith than the kind that saves? Maybe we could sidestep James here for a moment too.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Instead of debating this, ad nauseum, as it's already been done many times(we all been there and done that) and will be done again, I'd much rather air out some specifics and gather some impressions to ruminate on, since the topic has arisen.

    So briefly, how exactly does the bible support any other kind of faith than the kind that saves?(These earthly analogies don't seem to have what it takes).

    I like how this discussion is going but it's missing something.

    Otherwise, it's a fine day to focus on the fact that there's nothing we can give the Lord that didn't already come from Him, and break forth and shout out in thanksgiving because He's o.k. with that.

    Love to all you brethren, Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/22/2007 1:38 PM  

  • ...and tomorrow or the next day would work fine for me in any help with my last comment.

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/22/2007 1:40 PM  

  • False faith vs no faith

    If we recognise that there is such a thing as people within the confines of the Christian church professing to be saved when they are in fact lost, then it really matters little whether we attribute false or spurious faith to them or no faith at all. Maybe we should shift the emphasis to their profession, which we generally refer to as a "profession of faith." If we take Judas Iscariot as the prime example of one who must've given every outward indication that he was a Christian, yet from his description as the son of perdition etc., we know that he was lost. That he did not have saving faith is evident. Yet he must have professed something and spoke about his faith etc., But as I say, whether we call it spurious faith (a mere profession) or no faith matters little in the long run - whatever he had or hadn't - he would not come to Christ that he might have life. (John 5:40)


    P/s Happy Thanksgiving Day to y' all. Remember, America's debt (under God) to the Scotch-Irish!

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/22/2007 2:31 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I like the quote, but it is a qualified "like".

    First, I accept that it is a summary statement that attempts to articulate in a very few words a much bigger theological idea. I believe that I understand what it is trying to say, so I have no problem with the way it is articulated.

    When rightly understood, this quote concisely identifies that the faith that begins a spiritual life is evidenced by that same spiritual life it has begun. It uses the language of faith because that is the language James used in discussing exactly the same idea.

    You said, "I assumed since you liked the quote then the "never alone" part of the quote was what changed the quality."

    I find myself suddenly concerned that the word "quality" may be too ambiguous for the level of precision we seem to be drilling down to, so I am going to use more precise language, as much as I am able, to avoid any ambiguity.

    I think the "not alone" part of the quote delineates a category distinction. Not that there are two kinds of faith, but rather that there are two things that are both labeled faith - one that is, and one that isn't. The one that "is" produces Spiritual life evidenced in good works, and the other produces nothing.

    Now to answer your question regarding counterfeit faith; first let me explain a little about what I mean when I use a phrase like spiritual life that evidences itself in good works.

    I do not mean by this expression that every new believer, immediately upon receiving the Spirit, embarks upon a flawless regiment of good works. What I mean is that every one who receives the Spirit will come under the lifelong ministry of the Spirit, and that ministry is always fruitful.

    But let's be careful and biblical on that point. There is a weed that grows in Palestine (and has grown there since the time of Christ) that until it matures into full flower looks identical to wheat that hasn't yet produced grain. The two are indistinguishable. I believe that when Christ compared (in parable) the tares and the wheat, he was making a very accurate spiritual comparison - just as in a given field the immature tares look identical to the immature wheat, so too in a professing congregation the immature believer will look no different than a false convert.

    Christ said the even the angels couldn't discern which was which, so I understand the quote within the greater context - the faith that saves eventually produces genuine fruit as the believer matures. Some mature more quickly than others, but some remain in their infancy for extended periods of time. Yet the false professors never produce fruit no matter how long they wait.

    Now, about your re-commitment scenario...

    We are only ever born from above (born again) once, so if in the first scenario the person had made some confession of faith that didn't result in being born again, and wasn't really born again until 21 years later, then the person was certainly never saved in the first place. Whatever they had convinced themselves of, their conviction was not saving faith.

    It isn't that their original faith was inferior to their latter faith, it is rather that their original faith was not in fact faith, but a deceiving imitation of it. Many are going to arrive on judgment day with big smiles on their deceived faces, because they have been saying "Lord, Lord" all their lives, but they never, ever obeyed Christ. The gospel, Paul tells us in Romans 1:5 brings about the obedience of faith. Faith eventually produces genuine obedience.

    But I understand what you are getting at, which is why I began with the tares and the wheat.

    If the angels cannot distinguish spiritual immaturity from a false faith, I doubt that any of us will be able to as well, nor do I think it wise for us to bother. If someone claiming to be a believer embarks upon a course of hard-hearted sin, we are supposed to discipline that person, not examine them. If their faith is genuine they will repent, before or during God's inevitable chastening. If they are not chastened, they were not God's children, and it is unlikely they will return to that fellowship, though they may well go find another.

    As a Calvinist I am very convinced that every believer eventually produces fruit, but as one who desires to remain obedient to the teachings of scripture I am equally convinced that it is not our place to examine one another's fruit fruit to see who is saved. Our job is to discipline those in our congregations who are found to be actively rebelling against God. Maybe they are sinning because they are immature, maybe they are sinning because they were never saved in the first place - if the angels can't discern which it is, neither will we. Our job is to discipline not to decide who is saved and who isn't.

    Now, that being said, that doesn't mean that we are to embrace every heretical wacko out there. It just means that my defense of this truth (as I see it) does not result in me becoming a fruit inspector. The end of it is that I understand -where- sanctification comes from, not from men, but from God.

    Let me know if that confuses you more. ;-P

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/22/2007 3:49 PM  

  • Question #1 Yes

    Question #2 Yes, we pass from death to life the moment we believe.

    By Blogger Kris, at 11/22/2007 8:40 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/22/2007 10:46 PM  

  • I see the gray-black area that confounds many. It's not whether one has real faith or psuedo-faith, because faith is faith, but whether one simply has faith yet, or not. Because he/she tells us it's faith, and it sounds like faith, and it feels like faith, but it doesn't look like faith. It's that area of time between the time the seed is picked up by the passer-by on the road and the "evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart" because he does not yet understand. Or the time before one who recieves it and is watered unto deep roots which bear fruit can doubt and fall away. Or the time during which the one whom worries and desires and riches is choking, that we don't know how to view him--as either permanently reprobate or becoming enlightened. It's that area of time that we don't know how to define or what to call it--faith or no faith.

    So I guess that's where the whole wild goose chase of trying to determine if declared faith is 'saving faith' or 'faith that does not save'. That is if one is naive enough to propose that there is 'faith that does not save'.

    And so I guess maybe that's one of the theological doctrine building phenoms this quote illustrates the best. That is, "There are people walking around out there that claim to have faith and don't, so how do we understand and process them..."?


    By Blogger Todd, at 11/22/2007 10:52 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/23/2007 12:45 AM  

  • I really failed at stating that last paragraph effectively. I would much rather have said:

    (given the reality that faith will produce fruit)

    That is, "There are people walking around out there that claim to have faith and don't, and others that do but don't seem to show evidence of it, and so how do we understand and process them..."?"

    This seems to be a compulsion for some extra-biblical doctrine building which tends toward legalism.

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/23/2007 12:57 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    The proof is in the pudding! If there isn’t content then it isn’t real!
    This is what some of my relatives use to say. They were quite abit on the charismatic side, so they were full of something, I just haven’t figured out what. Maybe it is pudding.
    I believe these cliché’s grew out of this kind of soil.
    Phil 1:6 He who began a good work in you will complete it.
    Taken to mean: If you are truly saved people will see it.
    Shown to mean: Talking about a contribution this church had made to the futherance of the gospel (Phil 4:15).
    1 John 3:9 Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin.
    Taken to mean: If you are truly saved you will not PRACTICE sin.
    Shown to mean: You cannot sin as an expression of abiding in Christ.
    Romans 8:14 For as many are lead by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.
    Taken to mean: If you are truly a child of God you WILL be lead by the Spirit.
    Shown to mean: Every believer is a child (teknon) of God but not every believer is a son (huios) of God. It’s the sons of God who suffer with Christ and are joint-heirs. It’s the sons of God THAT Jesus says about: blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons (huios) of God. Being lead by the Spirit is not automatic it is a choice one makes. That’s why all the exhortations in scripture.
    James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead being alone.
    Taken to mean: If you are truly saved your faith will have works.
    Shown to mean: Faith without works cannot save your life.
    Matthew 7:16a You will know them by their fruits.
    Taken to mean: If you are truly saved you will have fruit.
    Shown to mean: Speaking of false teachers who are wolves in sheep clothing. You will know them by their fruit (words, Matt 12:33,34; Luke 6:45).
    These are just a few scriptures that have been taken out of context to prove if your really saved you WILL have good works.

    By Blogger alvin, at 11/23/2007 10:47 AM  

  • PART 2
    Here are some scriptures that imply a different conclusion.
    1 Cor 3:11-15 (context) 12b wood, hey, and stubble. vs.15 if any mans work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet as by fire.
    This implies a person’s works could be all burned up.
    Luke 8:5-15 Parable of the Sower
    Notice in this parable it’s only the first one that Satan snatches the seed away before he can believe and be saved. The next three it says “sprang up” meaning they were made alive. And the second one believed for awhile and then fell away.
    1 Thess 5:1-10 This is speaking of the “Day of The Lord” when He will come like a thief in the night. But notice in verse 10 that whether believers wake or sleep they will live together with the Lord. The Greek word for sleep (katheudo)here is the same one used in verses 6&7 concerning unbelievers. Paul did not use the word here for sleep (koimaomai) that is only used for believers who sleep in Jesus. Paul’s meaning is clear even if the believer is ready or not they will be with the Lord. As 2 Timothy 2:13 states: If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
    I think these cliché’s have a greater expectation then even scripture puts forth, which cannot be good.
    Blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at 11/23/2007 10:48 AM  

  • Hi everyone!

    I trust that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did.

    I would like to thank you for your exposition of Romans 8:14. I've been puzzled by what that meant.

    You said, Romans 8:14 For as many are lead by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.
    Taken to mean: If you are truly a child of God you WILL be lead by the Spirit.
    Shown to mean: Every believer is a child (teknon) of God but not every believer is a son (huios) of God. It’s the sons of God who suffer with Christ and are joint-heirs. It’s the sons of God THAT Jesus says about: blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons (huios) of God. Being lead by the Spirit is not automatic it is a choice one makes. That’s why all the exhortations in scripture.

    I'm no theologian, but I ought to get myself some lexicons, commentaries, and such. I didn't see the difference in the Greek. But I did see the context. I thought that it meant "son" in the experiential sense. It's all making sense, now.

    Hi Rose!

    Thanks for all of your comments on my blog posts. Hope your Thanksgiving went well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/23/2007 10:53 AM  

  • Hi, Rose. I hope your holiday was incredible family time!

    As I had been asking more questions than answering before my holiday, I should answer, huh?

    #1 - Since there is no reliable source on who originated this saying and what the original context is, I say it means or implies whatever we agree that it does. And I might add, to have any meaningful discussion we must agree on at least that one thing. :)

    #2 - I don't know. :D In my experience it seemed both a process and a moment - but rather hard to describe. Scripture confuses me on this, too, but I lean towards a moment because it does seem to have a definitive culmination.

    By Blogger Missy, at 11/23/2007 11:31 AM  

  • Alvin says, "Every believer is a child (teknon) of God but not every believer is a son (huios) of God. It’s the sons of God who suffer with Christ and are joint-heirs. It’s the sons of God THAT Jesus says about: blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons (huios) of God. Being lead by the Spirit is not automatic it is a choice one makes. That’s why all the exhortations in scripture."

    >spit take<

    Romans 8:14 follows verses 12 and 13, and to be sure, it follows Romans 6 and 7. We do well to understand it both in the context of the larger argument Paul is making, and again with respect to the details of that argument in the immediate context.

    In Romans 6 Paul explains that justification by faith (as opposed to earning justification by personally keeping the Mosaic laws), that is justification apart from the law does not produce law breaking believers, but rather it produces people whose obedience is motivated and empowered by faith in God's promises and not by fear of the damnation that results from failing to live up to the law's requirements.

    This genuine obedience, Paul teaches, comes about because the moment a believer believes he is united with Christ - and that it is through this union that a very real death takes place - the death of that which has enslaved the unbeliever - the person we were previously (the old man). The old man loves sin, hates God, and will never, ever change. You can call the old man you sin nature if you want, if that helps - the important thing to understand is that the sin nature cannot be made subject to God, it hates God. So God doesn't make it better, instead Christ takes that into himself and God judiciously kills it (and you with it) on Calvary.

    To do this you must be united with Christ - which is the new birth. The moment you are united with Christ you are united with his death because you died with him if you were united with him.

    It wasn't that God was pretending Christ was guilty so that he could punish your sins, it was that you were united with Christ, and God cannot set aside your punishment even though you are united with Christ - and so God punishes you, and Christ and you both die there - BUT, because God cannot keep the innocent Christ in the grave - that is, because just as it would be unjust for God to -not- punish you on account of your having been united even to Christ - yet it would be unjust of God to not raise Christ even if he was united to us who don't deserve it. Thus it is through our union with Christ that we are atoned, that is, it we look to our union with Christ, says Paul to explain why it is that sin no longer has power over us. Because we died to sin's power with Christ. That is what Romans 6:6 tells us was the purpose of our death - to free us from sin's power.

    Our whole life was put into Christ - not just the part before our salvation - but all of it. That means that the life we now live is also on the cross - with one big difference - we now know that the thing Christ took to the cross is a defeated enemy - and knowing this we have recourse to stop obeying it.

    That is what it means when Paul writes - do you not know that you are that one's slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness. He means that you no longer are enslaved to sin, so stop listening to that thing that is only producing separation between you and God (death), you are no longer in debt to that thing - it no longer owns you, you are not a slave.

    So by the time we get to Romans 8:12-14 Paul has already laid out the reason why you are no longer enslaved to sin, such that when we read: "So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." (ESV) - we are not reading about some two-tier distinction between children and sons - that's extra-biblical poppycock - a dream someone dreamed that has no foundation in scripture - especially in the light of what the text is actually saying:

    The passage in Romans 8 tells us that we are not debtors (slaves) to the flesh (the old man, the sin nature etc.) since the flesh is that which required our death in Christ at Calvary - it is only producing =that= death, it continues to produce in us (in the here and now) what was crucified in Christ two millenniums ago, and we therefore are not under obligation to obey it - having had our redemption from that thing purchased in Christ's own blood, we are told to walk according to what has redeemed us, and not what has damned us. That is the exhortation - if you put to death the deeds of the body in Christ, you will live, and if you didn't you will die, for you were never born again. That is a black and white line drawn not between tier one and tier two Chrsitianity - but between those who are united with Christ in his death and resurrection and by that union set free from sin's power, and those who are not in Christ, and have no claim to justification.

    If you are a son of God, you are saved, and if not, you are not saved, but still in your sins.

    The reason some people sorely mess this up is because they don't understand sanctification, and knowing themselves to be saved, they find themselves at odds with the sin they still struggle with, and having a fear that this sin says something about their salvation, they dream up bad theology to comfort them, (when good theology would be a far better comfort!)

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/23/2007 12:30 PM  

  • Good day, Rose!

    QUESTION #1: Can it be stipulated to that what the quote implies is that there will be works along with the faith?

    ANSWER #1 : Yes it does so stipulate.

    QUESTION #2: Is "being saved" (as in justification) a thing that happens in a moment of time... or is it a process? Do we all agree that when the Bible says we have "passed from death to life" that this was something that has already happened at a "point in time"?

    ANSWER #2: If the simple answer to the question, "Did Adam die when he ate of the fruit?" is yes, and the explanation is that separation from God is death, then being saved is knowing God, as evident in the angels bringing revelation because of Jesus' reconciliatory work (Matt 4:13-17, John 1:51).

    Hi Rachel, (In my Father's house are many mansions!)

    The tektonik article is not a valid explanation: apples and oranges.

    Baptism is an easy step, once the understanding for the necessity for obeying its command is understood. (I initially refused to undergo believer's baptism as a reaction to my Catholic upbringing, which is excessively sacramental, meaninglessly traditional and tediuosly liturgical) .

    Sanctification is not that easy: doing good works can be understood as the right thing to do (Rom 6) and it is commanded, but it is counter intuitive. We are all naturally pre-disposed to seek after pleasure, and many pleasurable things are sin.

    By Blogger Anton, at 11/23/2007 2:03 PM  

  • Colin,
    Thank you for the clarification.

    Well, it seems that you, at least, have stipulated to my two part question.
    1. Yes, the quote is saying that works and fruit will accompany the faith that saves.
    2. Yes, salvation in the form of justification occurs upon the moment of faith.

    Then... the quote as it stands is contradictory. Here's why:
    At a moment of faith we have nothing but faith. We don't have works or fruit at the moment of salvation, so the *faith that saves* IS alone, even if only for that moment. :~)

    I think this is what was really bothering me about the quote all along. Case closed?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2007 2:11 PM  

  • Rose,

    Faith alone leads to justification and the justified state leads to good works. If we were to introduce works either before faith or along with faith, then the cry would go up that we are teaching salvation by human merit to one degree or another. Which, of course, would be the case.

    However, we say that justification (by faith alone) leads to good works (as evidence) and that takes time i.e. as the soul grows in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. So, yes, technically you are right: there will be a time when the new believer will not have any good works to speak of. But the ability (under God) to produce good works has been implanted in his new born soul in seed form....something the child of wrath cannot speak about.

    If you want to limit the quote to the short time between the new birth and the appearing evidence, that's up to you. On that basis you can close the case. On the other hand, if you want to relate it to the vastly longer experience of the Christian, I suggest that you untie the ribbon round the portfolio and leave it to stand as an important observation in an age when people feel free to claim all kind of things yet without warrant.


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/23/2007 2:31 PM  

  • Daniel,
    I agree with much of what you say in your laast comment directed toward me. No, it did not confuse me further... it helped to clarify what it is that you see when you look at this salvation. Thank you again for your gracious and loving manner toward me.

    You have some good things to ask.

    If I am not mistaken, you call yourself a FreeGracer. I think you are the only FGer that says they like the quote! That just goes to show you that they can't paint us all with such a broad brush, eh? God bless and I hope you will come back again.

    Alvin, Anton and Ender,
    Thanks for your comments as well.

    Y'all can carry on and discuss this some more and I will read your back and forth with great interest, but honestly, I am tired of refecting upon this quote. I am putting it to bed for now.
    God bless.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2007 2:41 PM  

  • Colin Maxweel,
    We live...in an age when people feel free to claim all kind of things yet without warrant...

    I couldn't have said it better myself!!!! Thank you thank you.
    God bless you, my brother. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2007 2:42 PM  

  • Maxwell

    (sorry for the typo)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2007 2:42 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Happy Thanksgiving to the Cole family. Lots of good comments here.

    By Blogger Earl, at 11/23/2007 6:04 PM  

  • [Colin Maxweel,]
    Hi Rose,
    That's the official Virginny pronunciation! ;0)

    Hope you and your family had a good Thanksgiving!

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 11/23/2007 8:21 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    To be honest I have no idea if I am FG, LS, or what! I might be FG IRT justification, but LS IRT sanctification. How's that for weird? ;-) Oh yeah, and I'm a 4-point Calvinist... my youngest's middle name is Kalvin, named for John Calvin. :-)


    I'm having a hard time following you in this post. You said that the Tektonics article I linked to was "not a valid explanation" of the relationship of faith and works. Yet you didn't address its main point, that of the Semitic Totality Concept. The author's remarks on baptism were to show just one example of how a "work" can have the appearance in Scripture of being necessary for our salvation, but isn't really, and the reason it has that appearance is due to this idea of the Semitic Totality Concept. Ignore, if you must, the specific of "baptism", and focus on the author's general comments on the overarching issue of faith and works. He clearly states at the beginning of the article that:

    "We will show that in the Bible, works are to be understood as the inevitable product of a saving, living faith, and that it is not proper to say that we must perform works to be saved, but rather that we will perform works if we are saved."

    How is any of this "not valid" or comparing "apples to oranges"?

    And btw, I think I've decided to just follow Daniel around and say, "yeah, what he said". :-)

    By Blogger Rachel, at 11/23/2007 10:11 PM  

  • Hi Ender,
    A very good resource on this subject is Col. Ken Yates “Son’s of God” and the road to grace. You can go to GES Online Bookstore and get the 2006 DVD for $10 dollars. His message was a real blessing to me and I’m sure it would bless you too.

    Hi Daniel
    First of all a son of God is one who recognizes what Christ has done for him. And who he is in Christ. That Christ has set him free and he no longer has to serve sin because of the Spirit of Christ who is in him, Christ can now live through him.
    Yes as a believer I am a child of God but now I have the privilege of being a son of God with Christ living through me one who is lead by the Spirit. One in who’s life Christ is reflected.
    The context of Romans 6-8 is Sanctification. In 6:12,13,16,19 are imperatives we are commanded to do. Romans 7 shows Paul’s own struggle. In Romans 6-8; 7:21-22 is not talking about Paul’s struggle for eternal life.
    Romans 6:12 Therefore DO NOT let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts, 13 And DO NOT PRESENT your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, BUT PRESENT yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
    Paul is clear that we make a choice who we present ourselves to.
    Vs.16 Do you not know that to whom you PRESENT YOURSELF slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
    Vs.19 I speak in human terms because of the WEAKNESS OF YOUR FLESH. For just as YOU PRESENTED your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so NOW PRESENT your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
    We are to put on the new man, to rekon ourself dead with Christ which is not automatic but a chioce we make.
    A great parallel is found in Galatians 4 They were choosing to go back under the law. So Paul says: Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child (teknon), does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all

    Paul had to remind them that they were sons, they had to make a choice to be lead by the Spirit.
    Blessings alvin
    Hi Rose!

    By Blogger alvin, at 11/24/2007 3:53 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/VA Susan:

    That's the official Virginny pronunciation! ;0)

    I would like to say that's why I let it go...but honesty prevents me :-) I didn't know that. The origin of the name lies in Maccus' Well - a place in the Southern lowlands of Scotland near the border with Northern England. Maccus suggests a Nordic/Viking connection, but the Maxwell's have been in Scotland for a long time. We were reivers (i.e. cattle raiders)and top dog for a while until the Johnstones gave us a good hiding and drove us out and we fled (like many Scots) to Ulster. Other Scots moved on to the Colonies in America (including many to Virginia) but my lot stayed here.

    Sorry to probably bore you all with this. I think I have strayed somewhat off the original subject, although it was coming to an end anyway.

    Enjoyed chatting y'all. Until another posting calls...

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 11/24/2007 6:40 AM  

  • Hi rose!

    Alvin, thanks for your thoughts on Romans. You said in closing something quite revealing, Paul had to remind them that they were sons, they had to make a choice to be lead by the Spirit.

    The context is not one of "reminding" but rather of "apology" - not in the "sorry I did something wrong" sense of the word, but rather in the "this is how it all really works" sense of the word. He was defending against this idea: If a person can be saved without having to keep the law, he would immediately embark on a life of sin because there is nothing stopping him from doing so.

    The charge against sola fide was that it could only produce sinners. Pauls apology was that it did not produce sinners, it produced saints, romans six describes the union with Christ that makes this reality unavoidable - Paul's argument is that Christians do not continue in sin because they are no longer under the law but under grace, or said another way - and this is Paul's argument echoed everywhere - God changes the person through the person's union with Christ, it is therefore the union with Christ through which we are sanctified, and the logic goes that all who are in Christ are thus (progressively) sanctified.

    I see nothing in Paul's letter to the Romans that suggests that he is reminding them of anything - rather I see a doctrinal apology for the fact that the same faith that justifies, sanctifies.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/24/2007 9:51 AM  

  • Here's a general comment,

    Paul, like James, is encouraging them to be active participants in their sanctification. For how else do they know of the whole progressive process.

    James does not examine their belief as to whether it's in Christ or not, when attacking the substance of their faith, he just exhorts them to put their faith to use. He never questions the object of substance of their faith. He simply encourages them to abide in their faith in the word of Christ as effectual doers, not just brain-dead hearers. He's telling them in his letter what that faith will do for them here and now, and in turn, what's expected of them, for how else would they know. Just like Paul has to remind them of His teaching of the ministry of the Spirit for that's the only way they'll know that the Spirit is an immediate fruit producing Spirit. Reminders(forgetful hearers), instruction and encouragement against their wicked tongue and decietful hearts.

    A people's free will is constantly trying to stop them from bearing fruit. It's only through Paul and the apostles constant reminders to get back into their teachings from Christ and scripture(the law and the prophets), that they will learn the will of God.

    I also think the son vs. child theory presented earlier makes no sense and draws useless conclusions.

    I think the tektonik article is constructive and honorable but is too zealous to convict some who, because of how badly the act of baptism by water has been defiled by the church and treated as a law, they believe, perhaps rightfully, that baptism of the heart by the Holy Spirit alone is sufficient.

    Thanks, just hangin around Rose...Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 11/24/2007 12:56 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Thanks for letting us continue.

    Rachel, there are many aspects of baptism that has been focused on in different debates, and I have had long and difficult discussions with different people with different positions.Here however, I'd like to consider how the article has wrongly described believer's baptism. It states:

    Baptism, like any validating behavior, is "essential to salvation" only in the sense that if you don't want to go through with it, and there is no barrier to understanding, then it is clear that you do not possess salvation. Thought and action are expected, under the Semitic Totality paradigm, to correspond. The conversion and the baptism are regarded as one process, not because the latter is required for salvation, but because it is expected in light of salvation. (Hence it is off the mark to make much of that Peter commanded the baptism, and thereby conclude that baptism is a "necessity" rather than an inevitable result. A command is often needed simply because the person being commanded has no idea what they should do next (as would have been the case with the Pentecost converts), having no knowledge of what the process is; and it could hardly be phrased in any less demanding language.)

    Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

    Some argue that this verse teaches that Paul's sins would be washed away following his baptism, and thus indicates the necessity of baptism. But under the Semitic Totality concept, this is simply not the case. Moreover, if one wants to read this verse as a chronology, rather than as a totality expression as we would read it, one wonders why calling on the name of Jesus is done last. It is more in line with the anthropological data to read Paul's quote of Ananias as a summary of a total commitment process which involved confession, obedience, and regeneration, and the "calling on the name of the Lord" as the "overarching term" in the passage. [For points in Acts, see commentaries by Polhill (461) and Kistemaker (790).]

    IOW, it states that baptism is something a person does, an act of obedience. If you study the passages which deal with baptism, verse after verse actually describes an act that is DONE to the believer.

    Matt 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

    Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

    Acts 8:36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"

    So the force of the text is that when one believes, one is baptised.

    An analogy is if a person is a conscientious objector and wants to join a pacifistic organisation. He is interviewed to find out his views, and he is accepted based on the correctness of those views.

    Did he do anything to become a pacifist: No! He just believed war was wrong!

    Did he contribute in any way to his being accepted into the organisation? No! He just repeated what he believed. Besides, he would still be a pacifist even if the organisation did not accept him, because of, say, procedural delays!

    Similarly, a saved person who believes in Jesus is still saved even if nobody is available to baptise him (which is possible in some situations where baptism is supposed to be done only by an ordained person). IOW, baptism is a recognition BY the assembly of believers, of the person who confesses Christ, something that is necessary for the fellowship that God commands.

    Works on the other hand are the deeds done by a believer in obedience to the commands of God: Remember, the article states:

    Pushback #1: If works are the result of salvation, then why did Christ and Paul so often exhort others to maintain moral standards? Doesn't this view make such commands meaningless?

    The problem with this sort of objection is twofold. First, when appealing to the commands of Christ (like the Sermon on the Mount), they are correctly understood as commandments; yet they are not commandments alone, but a mirror that demonstrates our inability to meet up to God's standards. Romans 3:19-20 tells us, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The primary purpose of the law, and of the Sermon on the Mount, was condemnation, not salvation.

    IOW, the Law pointed out the inability of the believer to follow God perfectly. How can "baptism" be included in this category of "Law" as an example of natural outworking of faith?

    As I said, apples and oranges.

    By Blogger Anton, at 11/24/2007 2:06 PM  

  • Anton,

    You said,

    "If you study the passages which deal with baptism, verse after verse actually describes an act that is DONE to the believer."

    I think you are making too much of the fact that baptism is "DONE to the believer". It is only "done to" someone because you can't baptize yourself! But it is still a "work" because you have to make the decision to be baptized, to submit to that command, and to allow yourself to be placed in the water, etc. You seem to be portraying it as some sort of "decision" that a group of believers makes on whether or not to allow you "in", and that that decision was made independently of you. You cannot be baptized unless YOU decide to be baptized. This alone qualifies it as a "work".

    Beyond this though, my point in linking to that article was not connected to baptism specifically. As I said earlier, the point of that article IRT this topic/quote was that the quote is true, works will ALWAYS follow justification, and that this is evidenced by the Semitic Totality Concept in the minds of the Jewish authors and readers. Again, if it helps, feel free to completely ignore the baptism issue in that article and focus on his point as it relates to this topic.

    By Blogger Rachel, at 11/25/2007 12:23 AM  

  • Hi Rose! (again!)


    You wrote:
    I think you are making too much of the fact that baptism is "DONE to the believer". It is only "done to" someone because you can't baptize yourself! But it is still a "work" because you have to make the decision to be baptized, to submit to that command, and to allow yourself to be placed in the water, etc.

    I can point you to Scripture that show:

    1) Baptism is "done" to the believer!
    2) He didn't baptise himself!
    3) The Church didn't baptise him either!

    But that will open a huge can of worms and send this thread spiralling off into crazy directions! We both don't want that: we want to prove or disprove the quote Rose provided!

    You wrote:
    As I said earlier, the point of that article IRT this topic/quote was that the quote is true, works will ALWAYS follow justification, and that this is evidenced by the Semitic Totality Concept in the minds of the Jewish authors and readers.

    OK, let's make no bones about it: the law is required. The high standards are required. The adherence is required.

    The Law has a strange effect on people:

    1) Some see the Law and are quick to reject the possibility right of the bat, of ever following it adequately.

    2) Some set out to try, and stub their toe, and are not that quick, but they eventually come to the same conclusion.

    3) And some never see the light at all, and keep mounting attacks on the obstacle and keep on trying to achieve the impossible.

    The Semitic Totality Concept
    Applied to the role of works following faith, this means that there can be no decision without corresponding action, for the total person will inevitably reflect a choice that is made. Thought and action are so linked under the Semitic Totality paradigm that Clark warns us [An Approach to the Theology of the Sacraments, 10]:
    The Hebraic view of man as an animated body and its refusal to make any clear-cut division into soul and body militates against the making of so radical a distinction between material and spiritual, ceremonial and ethical effects.

    The semitic totality concept does not conflict with the theology of free grace: the FG believer falls into the first two of the above three groups.

    The thought is: one can never follow the Law adequately enough.

    The action is: one gives up on self effort.

    Luke 18: 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    In the above passage, the Free Grace position is demonstrated to be the only position that meets the requirement for justification.

    All other positions, slice it, dice it any way you want, are positions that are analogous to that of the Pharisee:

    Luke 18: 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

    By Blogger Anton, at 11/25/2007 1:27 PM  

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