Hebrews 6:4-6

A little while back, I found a post on this blog that I decided to answer. He quoted this passage in Hebrews (as I have done below) and asked if anyone had thoughts on what it meant. Of course, I did, and I felt like they were pretty well reasoned. No one ever responded to my comment, so I thought I would repost it here, to see if any of you would like to.

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away,[a] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. – Hebrews 6:4-6

This is definitely a difficult passage. Hebrews 10:26-30 is a little clearer in my opinion.

But basically, does this passage sound like Christians can fall away from God? From salvation? And if they do, does it further mean that they can never get that relationship back??

Well, I do absolutely believe that Christians can fall away and lose their salvation. Again, the passage in Hebrews 10 teaches that plainly – it talks about one who “was sanctified” looking forward to a “fearful expectation of judgment.”

But I don’t think that means we can never be forgiven. Romans 11:19-24 talks about this subject by comparing Christians to the branches of an olive tree. Those who were Jews and had rejected Christ, were cut off from God. But Paul tells the Gentiles not to be haughty, because if the Jews could have been cut off, the Gentiles could be as well, if they turned away. And then, if they repented, they could be “grafted” back in.

So even if we can fall from God’s grace, he will accept us back with loving arms when we see the error of our way. The parable of the Prodigal Son shows us exactly that.

I think Hebrews 6 is making the same point, and when it says “it is impossible to renew them to repentance,” I think it’s saying that as long as those Christians continue in sin, there’s no sacrifice for them… in other words, they can’t be saved while hanging on to that sin. Like Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, if we’ve died to sin, how can we continue in it? That’s the life that we are to put off, when we become Christians.

So as long as we refuse to give up sinful things, we can’t be “renewed again to repentance” because we mock the sacrifice that Christ made for us. As Hebrews 10 says, we “trample the Son of God under foot and count the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified a common thing.”

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156 thoughts on “Hebrews 6:4-6”

  1. This is a hard, but true lesson. So many easily discount what the bible has to say on important matters. Thanks as always for sharing.

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  2. Nate, good to see that you are presenting the fun topics 🙂

    One great rule of biblical interpretation is always interpret difficult passages by clear ones.

    With that said, an interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6 (which is clearly a difficult passage to understand) must be taken in light of other passages. So are there clear passages which deal with our eternal security? Yes.

    In John 10:27-29 Jesus says:
    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

    In Romans 8:35,38-39 Paul declares:
    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angles nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    The reason John the Apostle wrote 1 John is clearly stated in verse 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” John is stating that his entire letter was written so believers would know that their salvation is secure and cannot be taken away.

    Ok, so if these verses are clearly claiming salvation can’t be lost, what is Hebrews 4 actually saying?
    Well once again the rule of interpretation comes into play, is there another passage of scripture which discusses a similar topic… yes, Matthew 12:31-32, contain the following words of Jesus:
    “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    Wow, those are some pretty harsh words. I believe it is this unpardonable sin that Paul is getting at in Hebrews 4 and later in 10. In addition, Hebrews 4 and 10 actually help define what blasphemy of the Spirit entails. A person who is truly seeking repentance and forgiveness will never reach this state of blasphemy. It is only the person who has truly seen the work and power of the Holy Spirit and then chooses to reject said truth can ever reach this unpardonable state; the individual in question has erected blinders to anything that remotely resembles spiritual truth.

    Thankfully, I believe few people ever reach this stage of denying God. However, if you have ever met someone who is downright bitter toward God, you have met one who has chosen to blaspheme the Spirit. You can tell this person knows who God is and has instead chosen to reject His gracious gift simply because they cannot give up some worldly love.

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  3. Oops, I forgot to explain how Hebrews fit in to what I just wrote.

    Notice how the author of Hebrews uses the words tasted and partook for describing the interaction with the Spirit. He is not saying he was saved… Hebrews 4 is describing a person who saw the work of God in their lives. If this person were to fall away(that is, deny the Spirit), they have reached a point of no return… a literal harding of the heart.

    The same is true of the willful sinner in Hebrews 10; this person has chosen to reject God.

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  4. Stewart,

    Thanks for your comments; they’re very well thought out and reasoned.

    On the surface, the passages you mentioned from John, Romans, and 1 John do seem to say that once we have attained salvation, there’s nothing that can take it away from us. I completely believe that’s true, but with one exception: ourselves.

    The Bible certainly teaches that we should be confident of our salvation, and it’s a comfort to know that no external force has the power to separate us from God. However, I don’t think that means we can’t choose to separate ourselves from him.

    In Acts 8, we read the story of Simon the sorcerer, who had heard Phillip preach the gospel, believed, and was baptized. If his belief had not been genuine, I think the Bible would have told us that. But we see that once Peter and John came to that area to help impart the Holy Spirit, Simon offered to buy that power from the apostles. Peter’s response was quite severe, and he told Simon that he should pray to be forgiven of his wickedness. To me, this passage is indicative of one whose soul is in jeopardy, even though he had already been saved.

    Romans 11:19-24 is another passage that I believe deals with this subject; I’d encourage you to read it, since it’s a little to lengthy to post here. But in it, Paul tells the Gentiles not to be too haughty toward those Jews who had rejected Christ. Yes, they had been God’s chosen people once, but now they were not since they rejected his son. However, Paul tells them that if God didn’t spare the “natural branches” (the Jews), but broke them off, then he won’t spare the Gentiles either, if they depart from serving him. Perhaps the most powerful phrase in that passage is this one: “on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,[a] if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” He goes on to say that if the Jews repent, then God can graft them in again.

    I would also point out that in Hebrews 10 is talking about one who “has been sanctified,” and Hebrews 6 talks about those who “were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come.” Then it says “if they fall away,” which implies they had once been with God. I think those terms all clearly refer to one who has been saved.

    I agree with your previous statement, that we must define the more difficult passages by the simpler ones, but I think when you take all these together, it seems as though when Christ tells us no one can take us from his hand, we should understand that to mean no one, but ourselves.

    By the way, I wrote an earlier post on the “unforgivable sin” if you’d like to check it out. I look forward to more comments. Hopefully, we can come to a more complete understanding together.

    Thanks!

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  5. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (English Standard Version)

    18 “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

    Paul implies that Hymenaeus and Alexander had turned away from God. He states that they rejected the faith and a good conscience and shipwrecked their faith. So at some time they must have held the faith and accepted it.

    Our hope lies in that God is ever ready and willing to receive us again when we repent and return to following His Word.

    Good post and comments!

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  6. Nate and Lauren, excellent thoughts.

    In the Bible there are two types of people who have “fallen away.” One are those who know God/Christ is their creator, yet choose to not give their lives over. The second are those who have professed faith in Christ and afterwards backslide and reject their savior. I believe this first group is described as blaspheming the Spirit simply because than is what they have done. They know, yet deny the truth; this attitude is what Paul describes in Hebrews 6.

    In support of the opinion that salvation cannot be lost once attained, The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes that holding to a view of loosing salvation is “rejected because of biblical assurances that salvation is a work of God which cannot be reversed”(John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck).

    As for Hebrews 10, you may be correct in asserting they were saved. Yet, this does not equal loss of salvation. This would be what Paul describes in 1 Timothy 1:18-20; shipwrecked faith or willful sinning. In Hebrews, this passage is a warning against falling into apostasy, there is no mention of loosing salvation. We must always keep in mind that God alone reserves the right to judge. Christians will be judged at the Bema Seat: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). This is the judgment Paul refers to in Hebrews 10:30-31.

    The whole passage focuses as a reminder to keep our thoughts on God and his glory. Because God will remove us from furthering his kingdom, He will remove unrepentant Christians from doing His good work; God will not remove them from everlasting life.

    As for Acts and Simon the Sorcerer… the Bible is not clear either way. I personally lean toward Simon was not saved, but the text simply does not say.

    Romans 9-11 is a fantastic passage dealing specifically with Israel and the false notion that the Jews have been rejected by God. I agree with your statements concerning chapter 11. As for dealing with loss of salvation, I don’t see that at all. Paul is explaining that the Jews have only been set aside and that the initial promise was never intended to be for the entire nation as a whole (hence the not all Jews are really Jews comments). But it is due to their disobedience that the gentiles may now partake in God’s gracious gift of salvation. In the end we must always remember that in any dispensation the way individuals are saved is simply due to God’s grace… God always has, is, and will focus on the heart.

    I really need to stop responding with lengthy posts 🙂

    I also hope I am not coming across argumentative, I really am enjoying this topic. Iron sharpening iron is always beneficial even if in the end we disagree.

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  7. Stewart–I am intrigued by your post. One question that comes to mind is what constitutes being saved? Also, what about Paul’s comments in Romans 9:27? What is he refering to there? I would be interested in your views on these passages.

    Also, can I be saved if I am in apostacy? How could I teach and practice error and still be pleasing to God? If God is not pleased with me, can I still expect eternal salvation without repentance?

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  8. Again, I really appreciate your comments. And I don’t find you argumentative at all; I hope you don’t find me that way either. 🙂 I totally agree that it’s through discussions like this that we are supposed to help one another become better/stronger Christians.

    I wanted to ask how you can know that Hebrews 10 is not talking about a loss of salvation. When I read that passage, I see that all that remains to one in that condition is a “certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” That’s very strong language, and makes me think of the “lake of fire,” as Hell is sometimes referred to. You and I both know that that punishment is the same one that meets those who have never been saved, and yet, this passage says it’s the same that one who has “backslid” will receive.

    I also still think that Romans 11 refers to losing salvation; let me see if I can explain myself a little better: Obviously, at the time Romans 11 was written, there were many Jews who had become Christians. Acts 2 documents that, as well as the fact that Paul, Peter, and the rest of the apostles were all Jews, and yet still Christians. So obviously, Paul is not saying that all Jews had refused Christ, and therefore, Christ was now accessible by the Gentiles. Instead, Paul is saying that many of the Jews had given up their “birthright,” so to speak, in that they had been God’s chosen people, and should have recognized Christ for who he was. However, since so many had rejected him, salvation was now being offered to the Gentiles as well (which was, of course, God’s plan all along). Then, Paul tells the Gentiles that if the Jews have a change of heart, and accept Christ and his teachings, then they can be “grafted back in.”

    At this point, I’ll admit, it may not really be talking about someone who has come to Christ, and then turned from him. But I think Paul covers that when he tells the Gentiles in vs 22, “Therefore, consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

    Paul is addressing Christians in this letter, and he describes Gentiles who had already been “grafted” into Christ. He says that if they fall, or stop “continuing in God’s goodness,” they will be cut off. In other words, they will be in the same state as those Jews who had not yet accepted Christ as the Messiah, or as those Gentiles who were still involved in paganism. That state is “lost.”

    I think you would agree that we should be able to use the Old Testament as guide to understanding who God is. Over and over in the Old Testament, God made conditional promises to his people. If they did “blank,” they would receive “blank.” If they didn’t do it, then “blank” would happen. God always kept his promises. When Saul disobeyed the Lord, he had the kingdom taken from him and given to David. However, because David served God, the throne never departed from his line. The children of Israel were told they could enter the Promised Land, but when they listened to the 10 spies who said it was too hard, God made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

    The same thing applies to us today. If we serve God the rest of our lives, and put him first, he will save us, even though we’ll make mistakes (just like David did). However, if we turn from him, then all we have to look forward to is a “certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation.”

    And finally, if we can’t lose our salvation, then doesn’t that take away our free will? It’s like saying we have a free will until we decide to follow Christ; after that, we become automatons. I don’t believe the Bible teaches that. Sure, we can have confidence and security in our salvation, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give it up ourselves. God saves us by grace, not compulsion.

    Again, I hope none of that sounded harsh; I think this is a great discussion, and I look forward to hearing back from you on it.

    Thanks!

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  9. Getting good and deep into our discussion 😀
    Nate, once again thanks for starting this discussion.

    Well, I guess I’ll begin by answering Jim O.
    Jim, salvation is by faith alone. Specifically trusting that Christ was crucified and on the 3rd day he rose again. On the works side of things, no work on man will never get you eternal life; however, all of us will be judged by our works at the Bema Seat (see 2 Cor 5:10). Also, remember in Matthew 5:19 Jesus stated, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” He is referring to our future position in heaven… now before I get ahead of myself I’ll turn to your other question: Romans 9:27. Here, Paul is discussing the fact that God always has a remnant reserved for him. This is a principal continued from the OT; Paul is explaining that God’s promise to Israel has not changed, only due to the Jew’s disobedience it’s been delayed, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom 11:25).

    Nate, the reason I don’t believe Hebrews 10 is referring to loss of salvation, is because regardless as to who we are we will be judged at the Bema Seat. Those Christians who continuously backslide and shipwreck their faith will be the lowest in heaven. Furthermore, the warning caries an earthly consequence as well; God will remove a Christian from this world who wrecks his faith (see 1 Corinthians 5).

    As for free will, we still have it, and that is why we still sin. This is why Paul discusses the war that continuously rages within us in Romans 7.

    As for giving up our salvation ourselves, I would argue that those people were never truly saved. For if you truly profess faith in Christ, why would you ever willfully give it up? People who appear to live for Christ and then turn away were never Christians.

    Anyway, hope that clarifies my view.

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  10. Stewart, my mistake. I meant to refer you to I Corinthians 9:27 instead of Romans. (I don’t have a Bible with me, and my memory is not as good as it once was). Where do you find the scriptures teaching “Faith Alone”? James 2 teaches that is not true. Also, in John 6:29 Jesus said Faith is a work. If you are right that work doesn’t enter into the equation, then faith isn’t necesary either.

    Look at Romans chapter 6. Actually, the first 6 chapters in Romans, where grace is explained, is a good place to start, but he says in chapter 6 that they had obeyed from the heart the doctrine that had been delivered to them and were then made free from sin. They had to do something in order to come in contact with the blood of Christ which cleanses us from sin. I believe we must have faith, but I do not see where the scripture teaches faith alone.

    As for once saved always saved, II Peter chapter 2 teaches that this idea is false. Even Angels are sent to hell when they disobey God. Why would God waste His time in warning us over and over in the New Testament if it wasn’t possible for us to fall away?

    I’ll try to be better prepared to respond in my next reply, but it is obvious we have some fundamental differences to discuss. I am enjoying the discussion, and look forward to more input from you.

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  11. Great replies; this is definitely one of the most popular posts I’ve had in a while. 🙂

    Stewart, I’m not sure that Matthew 5:19 is talking about our position in Heaven. That passage is a little confusing, in my opinion, partly because of the heavy reference to the Old Law. I’ll have to study over that some more…

    Anyway, I think one of the differences you and I may be coming to is on what happens when we die. If I understand you correctly, you think that all of those who appear before Christ’s judgment seat are Christians and already saved. Therefore, Christ is merely judging them based on their “rank” or placement in Heaven.

    I disagree. Matthew 25:31-46 says that Christ will judge all nations and will separate them into “sheep” and “goats.” The sheep will inherit the kingdom, while the goats will enter into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. This judgment is something all of us will one day face; those who follow Christ and those who don’t. A reward awaits the faithful, and punishment awaits everyone else.

    Again, I look back to Hebrews 10, and the description of judgment from Matt 25 fits perfectly with “judgment and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” Those two passages obviously refer to the same thing. But where Hebrews goes further is in telling us that not only will the “adversaries” go there, but so will those who “have been sanctified,” but turned from following after Christ. They were saved, but they cast away their salvation.

    The parable of the Prodigal Son shows us the same thing. The son lived in his father’s house (in other words, he was already in a “right relationship” with God), but he chose to leave the house and live sinfully. He was separated from his father (God) during that time. When he finally came to his senses, he headed for home, hoping to even live as a servant in his father’s house. Of course, when his father saw him coming, he ran out to meet him and accepted him back gladly.

    I think the message of that parable is clear: Even though we might turn from serving God, he is willing to forgive us of anything. While we are living sinfully, we can’t enjoy that same relationship with him, because God can’t abide with sin. But if we repent, he is always willing to welcome us back.

    When I read the Bible, that’s the only conclusion that makes sense to me. I don’t believe that one who is truly saved will never turn away from God. Look at Solomon. God allowed him to build the temple and blessed him with wisdom, riches, and honor because of his dedication to the Lord. But in his old age, his wives turned him after false gods. Can we say he was never truly in a saved relationship with God? If he wasn’t, God wouldn’t have blessed him so richly.

    Look at the example of Saul. God chose him to be king, but he let his power and station tempt him away from God. We can’t say that he was never really committed to God, just because he later turned away.

    I didn’t mean to go on so long, but I also believe that there is more to salvation than just faith. I think Jim was absolutely right (and you probably already knew that based on my baptism post). And his reference to 2 Pet 2, especially verses 20-22 is an excellent point.

    Anyway, I look forward to continuing our discussion, and I’m sorry I went so long on this reply.

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  12. By the way, Jim, if you’re ever without your Bible, Biblegateway.com is a great resource. I think it has every translation of the Bible, and it has great search tools on it. You can search by phrases or important words from a passage, etc. I think the default setting is to the NIV, but you can set it to a different translation, if you prefer.

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  13. Jim,
    Salvation by faith alone comes from the following passage:

    Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    Paul directly shoots down any notion that a work of man gains us salvation. As I stated in an above comment, salvation in any age comes through God’s grace. Therefore, there is nothing we can do to acquire salvation. In fact, no man can boast of gaining salvation; it is an act of God alone.

    1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Ok, disqualified from what? Well who is Paul, an apostle of Christ… he is explaining his focus, his strive to do Christ’s will, and the reason why he disciplines himself.

    The key verse in James 2 is, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James is not saying that salvation comes through works, he is saying that good works are the manifestation of true faith.

    In Peter’s second epistle, the mentioning of angles going to hell has nothing to do with humans. We are a completely different creation, the gift of salvation was never given to angels…

    Jim, I hope that answers your questions.

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  14. Nate,
    I just wanted to alleviate some confusion.
    Revelation 20:11-15 is the Judgment, or Bema, Seat of Christ. The whole focus of this judgment (according to 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10) is on human behavior. All of us stand guilty before God and fall short of heaven, it is here where all who don’t know Christ are put out into the lake of fire. It is also were Christians are given their rewards. Read through 1 Corinthians 3:8–14, here Paul teaches believer’s works will be examined and given proper rewards. While salvation does not rest upon good works; our deeds do matter and pertain to our eternal destiny (see Colossians 3:24; Revelation 14:13).

    Hope that clears things up… or maybe it opens another discussion trail. 😀

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  15. It does seem to put the final nail in the coffin of once saved always saved. Welcome to the minority position 🙂

    As for claims that this undermines our assurance of salvation- I don’t buy it. We are discussing people here who deliberately reject Christ, not people who merely slip back into a sinful lifestyle (which are those whose works will disappear along with their rewards- but not their salvation).

    After all, isn’t free will big enough to include allowing an individual to change their mind regarding their eternal destination?

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  16. Stewart:
    If salvation is by grace only, then faith is excluded also. Further, all mankind will be saved, because Titus 2:11-12 tells us Grace has appeared to all men. Since we both agree faith is a necessarry requirement, then we either misunderstand the passage, or the idea of grace includes something else. Notice in the passage in Titus that Grace teaches us. It teaches us what we are to do and what we are not to do. Does this sound like God doesn’t require anything of us? If you look carefully at the book of Romans, you see that the christians in Rome didn’t really understand grace either. They understood that salvation came by grace, but they thought since it was by grace, they didn’t have to worry about doing anything because God’s grace had them covered. Paul tells them thatthey are wrong, and that they must obey God if they hope to reach heaven.

    Romans 15 and I corinthians 10 tell us that the old testament was written for us to learn from. In dueteronomy, Moses tells the people that God had given them a land to inhabit, but if they didn’t obey Him, He would take it from them. In Hebrews 3 and 4, we are told how the Israelites couldn,t enter the promised land because their faith wasn’t strong enough to cause them to obey God. We are warned tof the same thing in this passage.

    While Epesians 2 does say we are saved by grace, not by works we have done, it is clear, when looking at the context of the whole letter, that God gives us salvation, but we have to obey Him to meet the requirements of the gift. We don’t earn salvation, nor do we deserve it, but as the Israelites of old, we must obey God to receive the promise. Just as faith is a requirement of compliance, so is repentance, Acts 2:38; Confession, Romans 10:9-10; baptism, I Peter 3:21; and living faithfully according to God’s commands. Notice the partial list of the following passages that stress obedience to God. Romans 2:8, Romans 6:16-17, Romans chapter 10, Galatians 3:1, Galations 5:7, Phillipians 2:12, II Thessalonians 1:18, Hebrews 5:9, I Peter 1:22, I Peter 4:17.

    Also, the point of the passage in II Peter where angels are mentioned is that if God didn’t spare them when they were disobedient, then He will not spare us either. If you read the whole passage it becomes clear that God expects us to obey Him, and if we choose not to, He will condemn us to hell.

    James 2 doesn’t say we earn salvation, but we do have to comply with God,s commands to reach heaven. He says in this passage that the devils also believe and tremble-How many devils will be in heaven? Obviously none, so works have some impact on our salvation. Not our own works, but the works God requires of us.

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  17. I completely agree with what Jim has said here, and I think he’s said it so well, that I’m not going to try to comment further on it.

    I do think though that our major area of disagreement is in what it takes to be saved. If you don’t believe that actions affect it at all, then you can’t believe that one could fall away by his actions either. Until we can reconcile that difference, it probably will be difficult to come to any agreement on eternal security.

    Welcome to the discussion, TotalTransformation. I agree with your last statement, but I wanted to post some thoughts on a passage that you and Stewart both referred to: 1 Cor 3:5-15.

    Both of you said that this passage meant that one’s works will be judged, but won’t necessarily affect salvation, if they are believers. I don’t really think that’s what this passage is referring to.

    If you look back at verses 5-8, you see that Paul is explaining that the one who preaches the message is unimportant; God is the one who saves, God is the one who supplies growth.

    In verse 9, Paul says that they (the Corinthians) are “God’s field, God’s building.” Preachers, like Paul, are considered the workers. In the next verses, he takes that analogy further by talking about the builders and the kinds of “work” that they might do in “God’s building.” Some will build with gold and precious stones, which can withstand hardships; others will build with wood and hay, which can’t withstand them. What we must remember is that the “works” talked about here are the souls these builders bring to God. Some souls will become strong additions to “God’s building” and will be able to withstand the fire of persecution and trials, while others won’t withstand it and will fall away.

    Therefore, if a builder adds “gold and precious stones,” that’s great! Not only is he working for God by teaching the lost, but he’s winning souls to Christ. If another builder adds “wood and hay,” then the souls he brings to Christ may not last, but he will still be saved because he was still working.

    In other words, this section is very similar to the parable of the talents. The man with 2 talents didn’t have as much to show for his efforts as the man with 5 talents had, but both were considered good servants. Even the one talent man would have been considered a good servant if he had simply used what the master had given him.

    Anyway, I hope that observation has been clear and useful. I look forward to future comments…

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  18. Since grace has been given to all men… which we agree on.
    Then grace cannot mean salvation, since we know not all are saved.
    Therefore, grace is specifically the gift of salvation itself… hence, by grace we are saved… grace through faith.
    Yes, I completely agree grace teaches us; specifically how to act. Confused? Think about it this way, grace is the gift of salvation, but it is more than that as well; due to God’s grace humans are brought into salvation through totaling trusting (i.e. faith) Christ. We are given the Holy Spirit as a seal of that salvation (see Ephesians 1:13-14). Are we therefore supposed to squander this gift!? By no means, God’s grace teaches us to live in accordance to His will.

    Christianity is not about a law, its not about strict obedience, and I would go as far as to say this is not taught in the OT either. God has always focused on the heart. Christ came and fulfilled the Law, the Law could never save. No works can save… only by grace are we saved, and grace has come through faith in Christ. It is not about rules, but the heart; always has, is, and will be.

    When Paul talks about obedience it is always coupled with faith… notice Romans 1:5, for obedience to the faith… this statement is Paul’s missionary focus. The idea is, faith begins with obedience, but doesn’t stop there. This obedience is specifically to believing in Christ, nothing more… for anything more would not be faith. Yet, faith is more than obedience and obedience is more than just faith. Thus, the whole idea behind the title to my blog, faith has a cascading effect upon our lives which teaches us not just how to act but foster within us the reasons why we act the way we do. Simply because He died for me, I give my life to him… not as a set of strict rules that I must follow or I will be removed, but as a willful individual who will do anything for his master whom is loved.

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  19. Stewart:

    Iam confused. It souds like you are saying that Grace is not salvation, but grace is salvation. This doesn’t make sense to me. I agree that the heart is where it starts for us. In Romans 6 Paul tells the christians in Rome tha t they had “obeyed from the heart”, meaning thy had done what God required in the right way and for the right reasons. To obey means to comply with a directive or command, so the obviously did something God commanded. I agree we should serve God because of what He has done for us, and our love for Him should cause us to want to serve Him, but there are plenty of passages in the new testament that tell us to fear and warn us of the consequences of the failure to serve God acceptably. As far as there not being “rules and regulations” for us to follow, I have to disagree. I will try to make the logical argument based on what you have said. You have said (and I agree) that God requires Faith. If God requires one thing of us, why is it so hard for you to believe He requires other things of us? There are many passages that tell us what we are to do and if we can ignore them and not obey and still be saved, then why would you believe we need Faith? The same bible that tells me to believe also tells me to do other things (some of which i mentioned in earlier comments). How can I expect salvation if I don’t do all God has commanded of me? If I don’t have to do all of it, then I don’t have to do any of it.

    The term “law” typically refers to rules, regulations, commands, etc. The Old Testament is refered to as the Old Law in the New Testament, and we are told that the Old Law didn’t take away sin. However, the New Testament is refered to as the Law of Christ ( Romans 8:2, I Corinthians 9:21, Galations 6:2), which tells us there are rules, regulations, or commands we must follow. I know you really must believe this too, because you recognize that we are commanded to have faith. What you are ignoring are the other commands we have been given which are just as important as faith, and the failure to obey them will keep us out of heaven just as surely as a lack of faith will.

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  20. If grace is all that is needed to be saved then do we really need belief or faith? Believing in God and faith in God are actions or works as well. I don’t see how baptism and living according to God’s Word are any more works than belief or faith. (In fact, when someone is baptized it is the one performing the baptism that is doing the actual work, the one being baptized only confesses Christ and allows themselves to be lowered into the water.) How then, are belief, faith, confessing Christ, repenting of sins or even reciting a certain prayer any less actions or works than baptism and then living faithfully unto God? They all require us to do something.

    In Hebrews 11 the great people of faith mentioned all did something else by their faith! They were moved to other actions because of their first action of faith. How then do we separate faith or belief and other actions or works, such as baptism and following God’s Word?

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  21. I also want to mention, that I don’t think anyone here is claiming we have to live perfectly in order to be pleasing to God. Often, in a discussion of grace vs action, people seem to take polar positions. One person maintains that we do nothing for salvation, that it is completely by grace, while another person claims that we must live perfectly. Neither stance is correct.

    Look at Jesus’ ministry. He showed compassion toward many that the Pharisees and Jewish leaders of the day would have shunned: prostitutes, tax collectors, beggars, etc. But Jesus tended to be rather harsh with the Pharisees. If both groups were living incorrectly (or sinning), then why did he seem to use different approaches with them?

    I think it was because of the heart. Many of the prostitutes, tax collectors, etc that Jesus spoke to weren’t hypocrites. They knew that what they were doing was wrong, and they were looking for a cure. Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, was treated kindly by Jesus because he seemed sincere in his search for the truth. The majority of the Pharisees and scribes, however, weren’t seeking after truth. They had chosen a path for themselves and refused to turn off of it, despite all the evidence they were shown. I believe God is willing to be patient with those who sincerely seek after him.

    However, we also need to remember that Jesus never approved of sin. Those same prostitutes and tax collectors were told to repent and sin no more. Sin is never acceptable to God. Where his grace comes in (aside from offering us salvation in the first place) is in bearing with our weaknesses. He knows we can’t serve him perfectly; that’s the very reason Christ came to earth – so he could do it for us. But we must strive to serve him perfectly. When we become aware that we’ve been doing something contrary to his will, then we must change. If we don’t, we become just like the Pharisees.

    Ultimately, God has given us requirements, rules, laws, whatever you want to call them, and he expects us to follow them. He saves us by grace because we don’t deserve salvation, and we certainly can’t earn it. And aside from that, he is longsuffering with us, because he desires “all men to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). If we learn how we can better serve him, or if we learn that we’ve been practicing or believing something incorrectly, we absoultely must change to reflect that. If we don’t, we are worse than an unbeliever because we’ve seen the gift that awaits us, we’ve seen the sacrifice that’s been made for us, and we’ve seen how to serve our Lord and Master even more accurately… but we don’t do it. How can we, who understand the weight of what God offers us, be accepted into heaven, when we turn away from God? That’s exactly what Hebrews 6 and 10 are talking about.

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  22. Jim, the only requirement for salvation mentioned in the NT is faith.
    Can you please point out a scripture verse that states we must also do X?

    As for grace, I am saying that salvation is God’s gift of grace… grace itself is not salvation.

    Lauren,
    Yes we need faith, just because grace has been given to all men does not automatically mean all men have received grace. Grace has been given to us in the form of Jesus Christ, and it is faith in Him which allows man to receive the gracious gift of salvation.

    This is my whole point, nothing else is required, it truly is that simple. Baptism is not required for salvation and neither is doing good deeds. Romans 4 tells us that Abraham was justified solely by his faith (i.e. his trust in God); circumcision didn’t matter for salvation, Abraham’s willingness to obey God did.

    Nate,
    Clarification: I am not claiming we do nothing to gain salvation, quite the contrary. I am saying that we must accept Christ into our lives, it is faith in Christ that matters; this accepting him into our lives is a huge feat in itself, one that there is no turning back from. As far as works are concerned, I am saying that there is nothing we can do to keep us in His good graces… hence why salvation is called a gracious gift, fir we do not deserve it. Also, this is why I believe grace teaches us to life a life in accordance to His will. If a Christian continuously willfully sins God will often remove them from this earth (but not from salvation, there are just too many passages which teach otherwise). But if a Christian follows God’s Will and places His glory above self, then God will richly bless him in heaven (i.e. this is the storing up of heavenly treasures).

    Also, good thoughts, I see where you are heading. I’ll ask you the same question I posed to Jim though. What other requirements for salvation do you see in the Bible?

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  23. Nate: Excellent comments, couldn’t agree more.

    Stewart: Romans 10:9-10 tells us we must confess to have salvation. I peter 3:21 tells us baptism saves us. Matthew 7:21 we must do His will. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love Him, we will keep his commands. How many passages will it take to convince you? Can you find a passage that says ‘Faith only” saves? Phillipians 2:12 tells us we are to obey God and work for our salvation. James 2 tells us faith without works is dead, being alone. Does this sound like faith alone saves? I hope you will look at ALL the New Testament has to say about grace, faith, and works. If you do, you will have to agree that while God does His part thru grace to us, He also demands that we do our part thru complying with His commands to the best of our ability.

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  24. Stewart,

    I don’t think I can add much to what has already been said about the hebrews passage. However you asked for some NT scriptures that deal with salvation that mention something other that faith being required. I’d like to take some time and share some of those with you along with a breif commentary on the passages. Please take the time to study over the passages listed and get back with me. Sorry for this being so long, but there truely are a lot of scriptures that discuss God’s plan of salvation.

    BELIEF:
    We must believe the Jesus is the son of God, that He was sent to this earth to take our place, our punishment for our sins. We must believe that He lived a perfect life, was killed and on the third day arose from the grave. Verses that support this:

    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    John 1:12 But to all who have received him–those who believe in his name–he has given the right to become God’s children

    Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved you and your household.”

    There are others, but these three spell it out very simply.

    REPENTANCE:
    Once we recognize that we have sin in our life we are told to repent of it. To repent is defined as to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.

    Acts 3:19
    Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

    Acts 17:30
    Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent

    2 Cor 7:10
    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

    Matthew 4:17
    From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near

    Clearly these verse show that repentance is part of the process that leads to salvation.

    CONFESSION OF OUR SINS AND THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST
    We are told rather plainly again that we are to confess our sins and to confess that Jesus is the Christ, that is God’s chosen messiah.

    Romans 10:9-10
    9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    2 Timothy 2:19
    Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

    1 John 1:9
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

    Ok so far I’m sure you are with me. Most of us have probably heard these three things your whole lives I know I did. But there is something that has been left out from everything I was taught for some reason. Baptism is the final step in the salvation process; it is incomplete without it. Just as salvation would be incomplete without a confession of Christ or without you repenting of your sins. In fact the Bible says that baptism saves you. (I promise it does) Now I know are probably rolling your eyes right now, but please stop for a moment. Either the Bible supports this position or it doesn’t; it’s that simple and I want to show you how it does.

    Lets start at the beginning to get a bit of a back ground on where baptism gets its roots. In Judaism whenever a gentile person wanted to convert to Judaism there were a few things required of him. One if he was male he was to be circumcised, two they performed a process called t’vilah in which they would be immersed in and out of a mikveh (this was a ritual bath that was supposed to be roughly 200gals and the person was submerged and then lifted out of the water) and thirdly a understanding of Jewish laws and principles must be shown. This Mikveh was basically a Jewish baptistery. It was also used for ceremonial cleansing of things considered unclean. So even in early Judaism we see a form of baptism being used to one bring people into the faith and two cleanse unclean things. Not that the water had special power, but that is what God commanded the Israelites to do to become clean and enter into the Jewish faith.
    Fast-forward to John the Baptist. He is preaching before the start of Jesus’ ministry. John teaches a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

    Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
    Notice this baptism is for the forgiveness (that’s what remission means) of sins.

    Yet he recognizes that his baptism is incomplete, that there is one coming after him that will complete it. It is incomplete because Jesus hasn’t died and risen from the dead yet.

    Mark 1:7 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit

    Jesus comes to John to be baptized. John tries to stop him pleading that it was himself that needed to be baptized by Jesus but Jesus rebuked him with this:

    Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

    Did Jesus have any sins that needed to be forgiven, no none at all. He did it to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus is never going to ask us to do anything He didn’t do himself. That’s what makes Jesus such a personal Savoir; He went through everything we will on this earth, even baptism.

    Let us now look at Jesus’ conversation with Nichodemus. Nichodemus was a Pharisee one of the rulers/overseers/teachers of the Jewish faith. Nichodemus comes to Jesus at night with some very important questions and Jesus gets right to the point with the man.

    John 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
    Nic points out that the Pharisees realize that Jesus has come from God, but he has come to Jesus in the cloak of darkness so the others won’t see him. Jesus doesn’t even give him a chance for small talk He tells Nic: vs 3“Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This confuses Nic a little bit, and then Jesus clarifies Himself vs 5” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Lets stop here and discuss a few things. This being born of the water and the Spirit is talking of baptism. Remember Nicodemus is a Pharisee, an expert in Jewish laws and customs; he most assuredly would be familiar with the t’vilah that we discussed earlier. Also at this time John the Baptist had been making a huge fuss with the Pharisees over the baptism he was teaching. This being born of water does not refer to natural child birth. First of all it makes no sense. Jesus gave Nicodemus a sentence with qualifer and a promise. It would make no sense for one of the qualifiers to be something that every person on earth has done, then it by deffinition is no longer a qualifer. If I told you that you could be a part of my club if you were born and if you could count to 100, would that first part make any sense to you. Also look at it this way: if you have to be born naturally as part of the requirements to enter the kingdom of God, what about babies that die in their mother’s womb. Do they go to hell becauce they didn’t get to be born? Of course not, those babies are sinless and go to heaven. This is another reason that makes the idea of Jesus making natural birth one of his prerequistes to enter His kingdom not hold water.

    Lets move one to
    Mark 16:16
    “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
    Ok lets take the emotion out of this and make it a simple logic sentence:

    If ‘A’ and ‘B’ then ‘C’. BUT If not ‘A’ then Not ‘C’.

    1.) This states their are two qualifiers (‘A’ & ‘B’) that must be met to achieve ‘C’.
    2.) This also states that if ‘A’ is not met, ‘C’ cannot be achieved.
    3.) The second sentence says nothing about what happens if ‘B’ isn’t met, yet this is irrelevant due to the fact that in the first sentence to acquire ‘C’ BOTH ‘A’ and ‘B’ must be met.

    So by using simple logic and Jesus’ own words, yes baptism is required for salvation

    How many of us have sat in a church service and heard the sinner’s prayer. This set of words we are supposed to say to become a Christian. Something along the lines of

    ‘Dear God, I realize that I have sinned and that my sin separates me from you. I believe that you sent Jesus to take my punishment for my sins and that he was crucified and raised from the dead on the third day. Lord I’m sorry for my sins and ask you to forgive me and make me a new creature. I claim the salvation that you offer in Christ and commit my life to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.’

    And then bam you’re a Christian and saved from your sins. Do you realize nowhere in the bible is this example given? Nowhere do you find someone doing this and then being called a Christian? Let’s take a look at the first message that was preached to a group of people by the disciples. Lets take a look at what they told the masses that was required of them to do to be saved. Instead of quoting the whole first part of Acts Chapter 2 realize that Peter had just preached to a crowd who Jesus was, and what He did on the cross. Using some of the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Christ.

    Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

    The people were cut to the heart and Peter was very direct with what he told them to do.

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

    Please lets take it straight from the word of God and not what we have been taught our whole lives. Whose name are we baptized into? Jesus Christ. What are we baptized for? The remission (forgiveness) of sins. And what shall you receive? The gift of the Holy Spirit. Stop and compare this to Jesus’ words in John 3.

    Lets skip forward a little in Acts to the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Its is found in Acts 8 26-38 to keep things short I’m going to paraphrase the first part. Phillip is told to go into the desert by an angel of the Lord. He goes and finds an Ethiopian going down the road in a chariot reading from Isaiah. We will pick up in verse 30:
    So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
    And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
    “ He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
    And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    So He opened not His mouth.
    In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
    And who will declare His generation?
    For His life is taken from the earth.”[a]
    So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
    Now at this point all we know is that Phillip preached Jesus to him. Whatever preaching Jesus entailed the Ethiopian felt a strong desire to be immediately baptized. What was Phillips response?

    Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
    And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”[b]
    So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

    Notice that the Ethiopian Eunuch needed someone to explain to him the scriptures and give him instruction. The Bible simply says Philip “preached to him Jesus”. It does not record his actual words. But the eunuch who understood nothing before Philip taught him, responded by asking to be baptized. This directly implies Philip taught him about baptism and baptism was a part of Philip’s message in “preaching Jesus.” Notice also that both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. And they came up out of the water. Philip did not “sprinkle” him. Philip fully immersed the eunuch in physical water.

    How about Paul and his conversion? What can this teach us about baptism and what it does? Lets take a look at the story of his encounter with our Lord on the road to Damascus.

    Acts 22: 6-16
    Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
    9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid,[a] but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
    12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

    There is a very subtle truth hidden in these verses that I had looked over in the past. Saul comes face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. He realizes all that he has done has been so very wrong. He is told that he is to go into a city and wait to be told what he must do. For three days Paul fasts and prays (Acts 9). He meets Jesus face to face, obviously he believes that He is the Christ. For three days he fasts and prays blind. I’m sure he was begging for forgiveness for all the horrible things he had done as a persecutor of the Church. So here he is, he has faith, I’m sure he’s asked for forgiveness, yet what do Ananias tell him he must do? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ Don’t you see, he still had sin! And the only way to wash that sin away was to be baptized.

    Lets read a little more about what baptism does for us from Paul in the book of Romans

    Romans 6: 3-8
    Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

    Ok, another question and answer time.
    What are we baptized into? Christ Jesus and His death.
    Therefore how were we buried with Him? Through baptism into death and likewise we are raised into a newness of life by the Father through this baptism. Look at verse 5, ‘for if we have been united together in the likeness of His death (we just saw this is done through baptism) then certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” The body of sin is done away with through baptism (this death figure mentioned in verse 3 &4) that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Take a strong look at verse 8 Now if we died with Christ, (which in verses 3& 4 it says we do through baptism, not anything else), then we believe that we shall also live with Him.

    Titus 3:4-5
    But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

    How does God save us? Through the washing of regeneration, regeneration means new life. Doesn’t Romans 6 paint a picture of us dying to an old life and being buried through baptism to be raised into a new life? Doesn’t this washing insinuate baptism?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Again here is another verse that talks of this washing away of sin. The same way Paul was told to “Arise, and be baptized and wash away your sins” Very similar to the way Peter instructed to the people to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness)of sins”

    I know you are probably thinking that it would be great if the bible just said that baptism saves you. That would be a simple command that we could follow right? Well it does.

    1 Pet 3:20b-21
    in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype, which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    That’s right baptism saves us. Not by some special washing of your body, not by some work we do, but by us doing what God has told us to, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism isn’t a work we do, really someone else is baptizing you. You chose to believe in Christ, You chose to confess Him, You repent of your sin, which requires a turning around of your life, and You can chose to be baptized. All these things have to fit together or we might as well throw the bible out.

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  25. Wow! We’ve had quite a bit of typing!

    Stewart,
    I have to agree with what Matt and Jim have said on which things are also required of us to gain salvation. Faith, confession, repentance, baptism, and remaining faithful are all spoken of as having a direct relationship with our salvation, even though it’s God’s grace that actually saves us. I can give you some passages, if you like, but I think Jim and Matt have supplied quite a few for now.

    I wanted to comment on this statement that you made:
    If a Christian continuously willfully sins God will often remove them from this earth (but not from salvation, there are just too many passages which teach otherwise). But if a Christian follows God’s Will and places His glory above self, then God will richly bless him in heaven (i.e. this is the storing up of heavenly treasures).

    Your second sentence is one that I agree with strongly, although I think heaven itself is the blessing we’ll receive if we serve God and put his will above our own, not that we’ll necessarily have a better spot in heaven than someone else. The impression I have of heaven is that it’s a place that transcends “levels,” or “class,” or “station,” for lack of better terms.

    Anyway, I was hoping you could explain further your idea that God might remove one who has fallen away from the earth, but not from salvation. Could you point to some passages that might illuminate that further?

    Thanks!

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  26. By the way, I’d like to add to something Lauren mentioned when she referenced Hebrews 11. Stewart, in a way, faith is all that’s required of us. But I think that what James 2 teaches and what Hebrews 11 illustrates, is that true faith will result in obedience. That obedience will cause someone to confess Jesus as the Christ, repent of their sins, be baptized for the remission of those sins, and live their life serving God to the best of their abilities.

    Anyone who doesn’t do those things is either ignorant of those commands, or he doesn’t have true faith. As James 2 says, even the demons believe, and tremble! So if we really do have faith in God and his son, then we can’t help but obey him, and in that way, our faith saves us.

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  27. Ok, I have lots to comment on 🙂
    I hope we are getting thing accomplished, it seems as if we are moving forward to a semi-agreement.

    Matthew 7:21 – doing His will is believing in Him… the first step of obedience is faith (i.e. Romans 1:5). Doing His will is synonymous with faith, for that is what faith is.

    John 14:15 – Loving Christ and keeping His commandments are a product of true faith. Furthermore, the entire letter of 1 John was written to believers to show assurance of salvation. John’s theology of salvation must be based off this fact.

    Romans 10 – Confession is faith.

    Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” You wanted a passage that says faith alone here it is… notice Paul says not by works or else man could boast that he saved himself.

    Philippians 2:12-13, very difficult passage (remember we interpret difficult passages by clearer ones). It is clear though, that Paul is expressing obedience with the notion of working out one’s salvation. Yet, what does he mean? The key is verse 13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” This is assurance of salvation! It is God who began the good work in us, and it is God who will complete it (see also Phil 1:6). Therefore, the only answer can be that our faith–which is most definitly worked out in fear and trembling–is what allowed God to first work in us, and more specifically will continue working in us till the day we meet Him. This passage is about assurance not about works.

    James 2 – I discussed this before, our good deeds (i.e. our works) prove that we are saved. However, works do not save. James never exposes a works based salvation.

    1 Peter 3:21 – Peter is talking about that literal point in history, notice that it was the water that saved them from God’s wrath… in all actuality it was Noah’s belief in God which allowed God to use him to build an ark. Therefore, the illustration of Noah serves as truth to us as to how God saves us… not literally through baptism, but through belief which leads to baptism.

    Matt,
    I enjoyed reading your commentary, now I would like to present a different view on the facts you presented.
    First, let’s start in the OT. It is important to note the sacrificial system was for acts of sin. This is highly important: the purification system was for diseases not sin. Did you follow? Think about it this way, the purification system under the Mosaic Law was for the following: Childbirth, Bridal Purity, Priestly Service, Male Concentration, Corpse Defilement, Utensil Purification, and for Jewish Converts. Every one of these rituals involved immersion.

    Well then, if baptism truly cleanses us from sin, it must be rooted in the sacrificial system; but it’s not. Baptism is connected to the purification system, which was never set up to cleanse sin.

    Now look ahead to John the Baptist. Was there cleansing or a transformation involved? Yes, but it was symbolic; what came out was different from what went in. Specifically, the NT teaches baptism is a commitment or an identification with John who focused on the hope of the coming Messiah (we see this in Matthew 3:4-12; John 1:31-33; historically fulfilled Isaiah 61). When Jesus was baptized we see a commitment to the Father.

    Please understand I am taking a literal interpretation of Scripture.

    Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is very clear that baptism is a symbol of cleansing… in this verse Peter is expressing that they are to first repent (which is understanding they are sinful creatures, and need a savior; repentant individuals recognize they need a savior and place their faith in Him), and then be baptized… which is the first step of obedience for many Christians. At this point in history you did one and then the other to show you were truly aligning yourself with Christ. Baptism displayed the epitome of commitment.

    Acts 8:12 shows believers were baptized… they believed first!!!
    “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”

    Acts 22:15-16,”For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” Notice Paul focuses on commitment… be baptized. And then Paul states that calling on the Lord is how you wash away your sins; not baptism.

    Also, notice the Romans 6:1-5, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and Galatians 3:27 all show that baptism is an identification with Christ. These passages show an identification not with salvation, but sanctification.
    Shall we continue to sin? No… why? We have been baptized… people who know us know that we have publicly associated ourselves with Christ; therefore why do you sin, it only hurts the body and does not bring glory to Christ. Why? Because we have put on Christ! The world see this and God knows this… therefore when you sin you hurt the body that you have been associated with through your public baptism.

    Comments on the passages you brought up that I haven’t touched on:
    Mark 16:16 strongly shows that the non-believer is condemned, not the non-baptized.

    Titus 3 is talking about spiritual baptism, not water baptism. Notice Paul mentions the regenerating by the Spirit. This is what happens when we are saved on God’s end. Baptism of the Spirit is what happens at salvation; baptism by water is done afterwards to show commitment.

    BTW, good job on laying that all out. I was very much impressed by your presentation.

    Nate,
    For removal from the earth but not salvation look at 1 Corinthians 5 (specifically verse 5)… we know these people are saved because they are Christians (see Chapter 1). The delivering over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh can possibly mean two things: 1) allowing the believer to live a worldly life (and hopefully one day repent); or 2) death (i.e. literal destruction).

    Also, I would say the obedience is the result of faith… faith is not a result of obedience. Once again I think Romans 1:5 makes that clear; the obedience of faith is obedience which literally comes out of faith (study the original Greek of this passage and you’ll see what I mean).

    Not as long as Matt’s comment 😀
    Hope my thoughts are clear.

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  28. “Well then, if baptism truly cleanses us from sin, it must be rooted in the sacrificial system; but it’s not. Baptism is connected to the purification system, which was never set up to cleanse sin.”

    Christ died once, a sacrifice for all. The first part of Romans 6:3-8 specifically tells us how through baptism we come in contact with this sacrifice.

    Don’t you see it all has to fit together. There are too many verses that are phrased the same concerning salvation. Belief, Repentance, Confession, Baptism- all thoughout the NT these 4 things are talked about linking to salvation. We can’t just throw one of them out and accept the other. All somewhere are talked about leading to forgiveness, eternal life, salvation, regeneration, justification and so on.

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  29. Oh and I forgot to touch on the OT and immerison. True it was mostly used for cleansing from impure things. However it was also used in conversion to Judaism. Here is one of my older post that I think ties in well:

    There was actually an immersion used by the Jews to convert people to the Jewish faith. In Judaism whenever a gentile person wanted to convert to Judaism there were a few things required of him. One if he was male he was to be circumcised, two they performed a process called t’vilah in which they would be immersed in and out of a mikveh (this was a ritual bath that was supposed to be roughly 200gals and the person was submerged and then lifted out of the water) and thirdly a understanding of Jewish laws and principles must be shown. This Mikveh was basically a Jewish baptistery. It was also used for ceremonial cleansing of things considered unclean. So even in early Judaism we see a form of baptism being used to one bring people into the faith and two cleanse unclean things. Not that the water had special power, but that is what God commanded the Israelites to do to become clean and enter into the Jewish faith.

    I see this as a direct corelation to what believer’s baptism does now. We as non christian Hear, Believe, Repent and Confess, then we are Baptized to wash away our sin and to die with Christ in hope of being raise in Him in His ressurection, just as Rom. 6 so beautifully describes.

    We don’t have any direct quotes from our OT concerning the t’vilah in the mikveh. However there are plenty of Jewish customs and ordances that we don’t find in our verison of the OT. For further reading on the t’vilah check out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tevilah
    and on the mikveh read
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikveh
    and on general conversion to judaism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_to_Judaism

    Hope all this helps in showing some of God’s foreshawdoing in the OT what was to come through his Son in the NT.

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  30. Matt,
    You think I’m confusing things, and I think you are.
    Everything you are bringing up I place under sanctification…not salvation.
    Basically salvation is by faith (which is precipitated by belief coupled with confession) and then through progressive sanctification everything else occurs. I mean Romans 8:28-32 is not listing an order of salvation it’s listing everything which occurs AT salvation.

    I personally was saved over 12 years ago. I know this as a fact, I went to many Bible studies and grew in knowledge concerning God, Christ, etc. during this time. However I never went through believer’s baptism. At first, I did not know this was a step of obedience and didn’t realize that once you were saved you were supposed to undergo believer’s baptism. Well, eventually thought study and close friends, God showed me that I need to do this. So I joined a new church and was baptized on May 11, 2003. I know that prior to my baptism I would have gone to heaven if I died. Baptism didn’t change anything within me; what it did do was publicly aligned me with Christ. It was at that point where some of my worldly friends and family began to distant themselves from me.

    Baptism is a public declaration of association with Christ, and that is why Paul is using such strong words in Romans 6… because the world expects a professing Christian to act a differently. If you have been publicly baptized, the world people expect you to act contrary to the world.

    Also, there are two forms of Baptism: 1) water, what I call believer’s baptism; and 2) Spirit, the Holy Spirit coming upon us.

    I do agree that Baptism of the Spirit is connected to what you mentioned… but water baptism is not. It’s only an outward step of obedience.

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  31. Stewart: It’s not just the world that expects us to act different, for Romans 12:1-2 tells us God expects us to be different. Yes, obedience is sparked by Faith. (I noticed that you are now saying confession is required along with faith, so maybe we are making progress.) Faith is a work. It is something we are required to do. It is not our own work, rather it is us doing the work or will of God. I’m sorry, but your arguments , or the arguments presented by those you reference, are too convoluted for me to follow. Thankfully, the bible is simple and much easier to understand. There is no argument that Ephesians 2 tells us we are saved by grace through faith. It does not say faith only. I Peter 3:21 doesn’t say we are saved by baptism only, but it does say we are saved by baptism. Romans 6 tells us that through baptism we come in contact with the blood of Christ, which cleanses us from sin. Just as God requires us to have faith, he also requires us to repent (turn from a life of sin), confess Christ as the Son of God, be baptized for the remission of our sins, and begin our life as a babe in Christ, growing and working to become a mature Christian and servant of God. This seems very clear to me.

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  32. “I personally was saved over 12 years ago. I know this as a fact, I went to many Bible studies and grew in knowledge concerning God, Christ, etc. during this time. However I never went through believer’s baptism. At first, I did not know this was a step of obedience and didn’t realize that once you were saved you were supposed to undergo believer’s baptism. Well, eventually thought study and close friends, God showed me that I need to do this. So I joined a new church and was baptized on May 11, 2003.”

    Stewart,
    Not trying to belittle, or be condeming but there is something in this paragraph I want to touch on. You stated you were saved 12 years ago, sometime in 1995 for arguments sake. And then you go on to state that you didn’t even realize you were supposed to be baptized until 2003. Thats a 8 year span where you state that you were going to bible studies and growing in knowledge concerning Christ. How can one study the bible for 8 years and not get the impression that one needs to be baptized? Even if you don’t believe in baptism for remission of sins (though the bible states this) I find it hard to believe that you could study for so long and not see the many places baptism is stressed.

    I grew up in a southern baptist church. I was taught many the same things you have been stating here. At age 12 I said the sinner’s prayer and took part in a believer’s baptism as a public commitment to christ. 13 years latter through a lot of bible study and debate I came to realize that my salvation was incomplete. Nowhere in the bible will we find an example of the sinner’s prayer. Nowhere in the bible will we find baptism as a way to join a church, denomination or to publically commit ourselves to christ. We do find plenty of examples of belief, confession, repentance and baptism leading to salvation. Not of some work that we do, lest one should boast, but following the commands of God laid out for us in the NT. Its so simple and I really feel we overcomplicate it. Keynote passages from the NT stress its importance: the great commission, the message at pentacost, Peter said “repent and be baptized for forgiveness of sin” Anaiss told Saul to arise and be baptized to wash away his sin, Jesus told us to believe and be baptized, Paul told us that through baptism we are buried with Christ, and that if we are burried in christ we have the hope of being raised through him in his resurection. These aren’t my words, they are God’s straight from the bible. I don’t know how much clearer they could be. However I also know from first hand experience just how skilled men are at explaining away God’s clear message. Time and Time again as a teenage I was taught how god’s word really doesn’t say what it says. What great lengths people will go to, to try and explain away god’s commands to us. Its so much simpler and makes so much more sense when we let the bible speak for itself and follow its commands. I am praying for you and want to thank you for this discussion. Its very clear we have very differing oppinons, but I would encourage us to continue the conversation. I pray it continues and we all are benifit from it. One thing to keep in mind on this issue, similar to pascal’s wager. Either you are right or I am. If you are correct then we both are safe. If I am correct then we have another issue on our hands.

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  33. Matt,
    To answer your question as to why I did not feel I needed to be baptized; it’s because I was baptized as an infant, I grew up Methodist. It took a long time for me to realize I needed to undergo a believer’s baptism… I just did not understand.

    As for Pascal’s Wager… I would agree with you.
    Because if you are correct… a lot of people who confessed their sins and placed their faith in Christ while on their death bed are now in Hell. As is the theif on the cross who Jesus, declared would be in heaven with him that very day.

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  34. There are several things that should probably be touched on, but I’ll start with this last one: deathbed confessions and the thief on the cross.

    The thief on the cross is an interesting situation, and people often bring it up in a conversation about baptism. The first fact about the thief is that he understood who Christ was – at least to some degree. His faith was demonstrated by what he said on the cross. The second fact about him is that Christ told him his sins were forgiven and he would be with Christ in Paradise. Therefore, he was saved.

    Many use this passage to show that faith was all that was required of the thief; therefore, it’s all that’s required of us. But in fact, there are a few things that keep us from making a direct correlation between himself and us.

    The first, and most important, is that the thief on the cross was saved under the Old Law, where baptism was not a requirement for salvation. The Old Law wasn’t fulfilled until Christ’s death, as signified in the tearing of the veil of the temple and shown in Hebrews 9:16-17. When the thief was saved, Christ was still alive, so he wasn’t yet bound by the rules of the New Law. Today, we are. So it’s kind of hard to draw a true parallel between him and ourselves.

    The second point, is that the thief could have been baptized before. For all we know, he could have been one of John’s disciples, and been baptized.

    Finally, Christ himself told the thief that he would be saved. I doubt any of us have had a similar experience; therefore, we must obey what Christ has told us in his word, which would include the necessity of baptism.

    Now deathbed confessions are a different matter. First of all, I will say that I don’t know exactly how God chooses to judge those matters. It could be that he accepts those confessions and forgives those people of their sins. However, I also believe that we can only tempt fate for so long. Most people who deliver deathbed confessions weren’t suddenly struck by some epiphany; they knew for a long time that they weren’t living as they should. Sooner or later, we all run out of time. And if we’ve squandered our opportunities for salvation, then we shouldn’t really expect to have the chance to throw in a “get out of jail free” card. Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter if those people are truly saved or not; none of us are on our deathbeds. Therefore, if we want to serve God, we need to follow his commands. One of those commands is baptism.

    See Stewart, here’s the thing. I believe the Bible was given for our learning – that it was intended to be something we can understand. So when I read so many passages that tell me faith is necessary for salvation, then I believe that. When I read that confession is necessary, I believe that too. When I see passages that tell me of the importance of repentance – that it leads to salvation, then I have to believe that. And when I read that baptism is essential to my salvation, then I have no choice but to believe that as well. What other option is there, really? Though there are some difficult passages in the Bible, the ones that deal with salvation are pretty straightforward. Why not just accept them?

    There is no passage that tells us we are saved by faith alone. You mentioned Eph 2:8-9, but that simply says we are saved by grace, through faith. Nowhere does that passage say faith alone does anything. How could it? That passage actually lists two things as relating to salvation: grace and faith.

    As a matter of fact, the only passage I’m aware of that says “faith alone” is in James 2:17, where it says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Now, does that sound positive?

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  35. By the way, I wanted to point out one more thing. You said this:

    Acts 22:15-16,”For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” Notice Paul focuses on commitment… be baptized. And then Paul states that calling on the Lord is how you wash away your sins; not baptism.

    I disagree with this statement for two reasons. One, as Matt has already pointed out, Paul has been “calling on the name of the Lord” for three days, at this point. At least, he has been through prayer and meditation. If that’s all that’s required for salvation, why does Ananias tell him to do it again to wash away his sins?

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if you look at this passage grammatically, you will notice that “calling” is used as a present participle. A participle is a verb that’s used in a non-verblike way. For instance, if I say “I love to eat” (and I do, by the way) love is the verb and to eat is the participle, which serves as a noun in this case.

    But participles can also function as modifiers – as something that describes something else. “Please bring all the documents required” is an example where required explains what kind of documents need to be brought.

    In the case of Acts 22:16 (and also in Matthew 28:19-20), Paul is told to do three things “arise,” “be baptized,” and “wash.” “Calling on the name of the Lord” describes what he’s doing. Therefore, if any of his actions are going to result in washing away his sins, it would have to be baptism, since he’s never told to call on the name of the Lord. Calling on the Lord’s name will be one of the results of his actions.

    I hope that wasn’t too confusing…

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  36. Nate,
    As for the OT Law, people were saved then exactly how they are saved today; namely by God’s grace. Remember God always looks at the heart, and it is the heart that matters above all. No, this is not a contradiction because our faith is shown by our response to God’s pressings. If our heart is to God then we will follow him, if our heart is not open to God we harden ourselves against his pressings.

    I’ve been trying to think of a clearer way to present my view. Think about this: If we are saved solely through faith alone, then everything else is a response to that faith. Hence, good works alone do not save; however as James makes it clear, good works show we are saved. Same with baptism, baptism does nothing apart from faith; yet baptism is an outward and public profession of aligning oneself with God. Confession is the same, it’s a sign true of faith. Grace comes into play as the fact that salvation is even possible… therefore we are saved by grace through faith.

    Back to the thief and deathbed confessions… with my view you don’t have to jump through any theological hoops.

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  37. I’m sorry, but your view seems to be riddled with hoops, to me. Again, there are so many plain passages that tell us more than just faith is required to be saved. I would agree that faith is probably the most important part, because without it, one wouldn’t be inclined to do any of the other things, but that doesn’t mean that faith alone saves. James 2 is pretty clear about that, as we keep bringing up.

    Your view requires you to explain away passages like Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Matt 28:19-20, 1 Pet 3:21, 2 pet 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31, etc, etc. Why are those passages worded the way they are, if they don’t mean what they say?

    God simply requires more of us than just “faith.” Now if it’s true faith, then that’s a different story. True faith causes us to act certain ways, and the cumination of that is salvation and continued salvation.

    If our actions don’t really matter, then what about all the examples the Bible gives us? The Children of Israel come to mind: just read the book of Judges. Whenever they fell away from God, he sent persecution among them. When they turned back to him and asked for deliverance, he sent judges. That cycle repeated over and over again. Why do you think they were taken into captivity? God had promised that the Promised Land would be theirs, unless they turned away from him. First Israel, and then Judah, fell away from God, and he allowed them to fall into captivity.

    Surely you realize that the elements of the Old Testament were symbols of the covenant we now have with God? Our Promised Land is salvation, or heaven. While we live on this earth, God has promised us salvation, if we continue to follow him. If we turn away, why would he still bless us with the “Promised Land” when he didn’t do that with the Israelites?

    And one more thing: while God saves us all by grace, regardless of which dispensation we live in, the rules of the Old Law were significantly different from those of the New Law. Baptism wasn’t required of the thief on the cross because he lived and died under the Old Law. Ultimately though, Jesus told him he was saved, and he’s told us how we can be saved as well. If we don’t follow that, then we have no excuse.

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  38. Stewart:

    I agree that faith in God and His word is what causes us to repent, confess, and be baptizes, as well as perform other good works. However, they must still be done,as commanded, or we will be lost. The Hebrew writer refers to the same thing in chapters 3 and 4 when he makes the comparison that the Israelites could not enter the promised land becouse of unbelief. They knew who God was, they were His chosen people, and they had a belief in Him. Unfortunayely, it wasn’t a strong enough faith to cause them to obey Him. Therefore, they were punished because they didn’t obey Him. We are warned in capter 4 of having the same problem, insufficient faith, which will keep us from layng hold on eternal salvation. If we are to please God, then we must do as the Romans who “obeyed from the heart” in chapter 6. Notice, in verses 16 and 17 that it was only after this obedience that Paul says they were “free from sin”.

    You mentioned that faith was all that was required under the old law. Certainly faith was required, but obedience to God’s commands was demanded and expected by God. Just any works were not accepted, only those God commanded. King Saul, when told to go and utterly destroy the Amelakites, went and defeated them and destroyed all except the king and the best of the flocks. He intended to use the animals to offer sacrifice to God, which is always a good thing, right? Not in this case. Samuel tells him that obedience is what God wants. Obedience was required under the old law, and it is required under the NT as well. The point James is making in chapter 2 is that all the faith in the world is useless without obedience. Hebrews 10 tells us that those who disobeyed under Moses’ law were put to death. Does it make sense that God would not care what we do when He has given His son to die for us to redeem us from our sins? Wouldn’t it make sense that a greater degree of punishment should be expected if we don’t turn awat from sin and obey Him? Obedience is mentioned in numerous verses in the NT, and it is talking about more than faith. In almost all of the epistles, people are admonished to obey and are warned about falling away or being lost. Why would it be necessary to do this if faith only was acceptable? I admit, faith only is a comforting thought and would make things very convenient and easy. To believe in God and do what I want is certainly appealing–unfortunately it is not a scriptural concept. I must faithfully follow God’s commands or my religion is in vain.

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  39. Obedience to God’s OT Law was in no way expected to be followed. God foreknew what all of mankind would do long before the Law was even in place. Obedience was not required, it never was. Proof: King David practically broke every one of the 618 laws. Why wasn’t David then disqualified from kingship? Because his heart was right with God. Much of the historical scriptures (I & II Samuel) show this, and more importantly the Psalms prove this far beyond a reasonable doubt. God always has, is, and will look at the heart of an individual man above all else. And this is why salvation is by faith alone; it is the only spiritual barometer that matters–everything else can be mimicked (i.e. baptism, good works, a profession of faith)

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  40. If obedience wasn’t expected, why did God force the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for 40 years? Why did Israel tend to see periods of peace and prosperity when they were (for the most part) serving God? Why were they invaded when they fell away?

    And I really don’t know where you get that idea about David. There was the business with Bathsheba, and he definitely made some mistakes with his children. But he also suffered for those things. You are right in saying that he was a man after God’s own heart, and as you said, it wasn’t shown by perfect living; however, his the state of his heart was manifested by his attempts to correct and repent of everything he ever did wrong.

    If David hadn’t repented of his sins, then he would have been just like King Saul. And just like Saul, the kingdom would have been taken from him.

    Obedience was absolutely expected by God – perfection was not, and I think you might be confusing the two.

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  41. For that matter, why would God have given the law at all if He never expected anyone to follow it?

    You have all touched on this before, but I just wanted to reiterate that true faith will lead to obedience. Take Noah, for example. Hebrews 11 tells us that Noah built the ark by faith. Even though Noah had never seen rain, his faith led him to obey God by building the ark. Imagine that instead of demonstrating his faith through obedience to God’s command, Noah had sat back and told God, “I believe in you and I believe that you’ll destroy the world with water and I know that you’ve told me to build a boat, but I’m not going to… You can save me some other way.” Is that really faith? People essentially do the same thing when they read in the New Testament that we are to hear (Rom 10:17), believe (Heb 11:6), repent (Acts 2:38), confess (Rom 10:9-10), be baptized (1 Pet 3:21), and live a faithful, obedient life (Rev. 2:10) and the refuse to do so, basically telling God “You can save me on faith alone.” If God has told us to do something, we shoud do it. If we don’t comply with His commands, how can we honestly say that we believe in Him and love Him?

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  42. Ryley,
    Would a true believer actually sit back and not comply with God’s commands? No, for the exact reason you stated, ignoring God’s commands just shows that our conversion is not real. Hence, only true believers are going to follow those commands. This is why faith alone saves us, everything else is an outcropping of faith.

    Nate,
    I think your forgetting Hebrews 10:1, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Now yes, I understand this verse specifically mentions sacrifices, but the focus is on the entire law.
    The law was a shadow of what was to come… you see this throughout the Bible. For instance, the wilderness laws were set up to keep the wandering Israelites alive and to point toward a permanent temple (i.e. the tabernacle laws were a shadow of the temple laws). The same is true of the temple laws, which were a shadow of Christ who fulfilled the law. The former always paved the way for the latter.

    As for obedience, key verse: Deuteronomy 1:6, “The LORD your God spake unto us in Horeb, saying Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount.” They wandered for 40 years because God was teaching them how to follow and obey Him. They did not know nor understand, it took 40 years to teach them and even then all we see in the OT is failure after failure. The purpose of the law was not for them to obey, it was to show the Jews their need for a savior. It was not possible, even theoretically, for a Jew to keep the law; the law could never save.

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  43. Stewart: If you will read further in Hebrews 10, you will see that a remembrance was made each year of the sins of the people, and it was necessary for the animal sacrifices to be repeated until the death of Christ, as His blood is what takes away sin. We are told in the New Testament how we can come in contact with that blood. It is not through faith alone, although faith is a part of it. It is through baptism that we actually come in contact with the blood of Christ, so it too is part of what God requires of us to receive salvation from our sins. If you are saying that an obedient faith, encompassing all that God has commanded us to do, is what saves us, then I could agree. However, the bible doesn’t support a claim that faith alone, without obedience, saves anyone.

    God promised Abraham that He would give Abraham’s decendants a land of promise in Genesis 12. Whaen the Children of Israel are led from Egypt by Moses, God tells them He is going to give them a land, the same land that was promised to Abraham. Even though this land is a gift, there are requirements that had to be met in order for the promise to be fulfilled. God said he would fight their battles for them, but He still required them to have an army and to enter into the battle. He gave them the land, but they had to enter it. conquer it, and possesses it, and remain faithful to Him. The book of Dueteronimy, especilly the last few chapters, recout the promises of God and the conditions imopsed on His people in order for them to receive them. They would be punished if they failed to obey God’s commands, or Laws. Sin itself is defined as a transgression of God’s law. Therefore, if God has told me to do something, and I don’t do it, I have transgressed God’s law, I have sin, and if I don’t fiollow His law in correcting this, I have separated myself from God and I will be lost for eternity.

    The bible is simple and logical. We understand in our society that we have laws and they must be obeyed or we will receive some sort of punishment. Hebrews 10 says that those who disobeyed the Law of Moses were put to death. The rhetorical question is then asked “how much sorer punishment suppose you to be worthy who have trodden under foot the son of God”? The answer is clear. Since God has given His son for us, and is the only sacrifice whereby we can receive remission of sins, then if I do not obey the Law of Christ, or the New Testament, I can expect to spend eternity in hell. I am not earning my salvation, but like the Israelites of old, I am complying with the requirements of God as God has commanded.

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  44. Stewart, just to answer your point, I do understand that the Old Law was given as a “shadow” of the things to come; as was mentioned earlier, the blood of bulls and goats couldn’t wash away sin. The law was given to teach the Israelites (and the rest of us) who God is and how he should be treated, but you’re absolutely right in saying the law was never given to save – it couldn’t because we couldn’t follow it perfectly. It set the stage for Christ to come, who could save us by his sacrifice and the grace of God.

    But that doesn’t mean that the Old Law wasn’t given for the Israelites to follow. It was still a law. And even though they couldn’t keep it perfectly, they were required to live by it to the best of their ability. As you read through the Old Testament, you see that they were punished whenever they stopped trying to follow the law. David was a man after God’s own heart because he always tried to serve God, even though he didn’t always succeed. But when people willfully turned away (worshipping the golden calf, complaining in the wilderness, usurping Moses’ authority, engaging in sexual immorality) they were punished. That shows me that God held them accountable for their own actions, and held them accountable for what was written in the law.

    Just because we now know that God never intended that law to save them doesn’t mean that they weren’t still bound by it.

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  45. Stewart,

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of these points earlier, but we were studying tonight and ran across some passages that fit our discussion on “eternal security” perfectly.

    I’m sure you know the parable of the wise and foolish virgins found in Matt 25:1-13, but I would encourage you to read it again. Notice that all 10 virgins were waiting at the door for the wedding feast. In other words, all these people were prepared. But some weren’t prepared for the long-haul. When they were found wanting, they weren’t allowed in.

    How else can we interpret this passage, other than to understand that though some of us may be ready right now (in other words, we have salvation), if we aren’t prepared for the “long-haul,” we won’t maintain that salvation?

    The other passages concern the “seven churches in Asia” written about in Revelation 2-3. Notice the following verses:

    2:5 – “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.”

    2:16 – “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

    2:25 – “hold fast what you have till I come.”

    3:3-4 – “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”
    Notice how only those who haven’t yet defiled their garments will walk with Christ in white. Apparently, the others won’t.

    3:11 – “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
    According to this passage, it sounds like if we don’t hold fast, then we’ll lose our crown.

    Throughout those two chapters, it’s strikingly clear that only those who remain faithful to Christ will actually be saved. Hebrews 12 is another great passage to read that relates to this topic.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you…

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  46. Matt,
    I would agree with your interpretation of the Parable of the Virgins, yet that does not mean it supports either of our views either way.
    The answer one arrives at with that parable is solely based off of other passages and our interpretations there. Same is true of Revelation or any other passage in the Bible. Think about it this way, you are saying that loss of the crown is equivalent of loss of salvation. I would take a less metaphorical approach and equate the loss of the crown to the loss of a literal treasure… here on earth we are to store up our treasures in heaven… therefore, holding fast to the faith is equated with our future treasures in heaven. Basically, we have two differing views which are equally valid; the answer we personally hold to are based off our belief in salvation and the possible loss thereof.

    Anyway, instead of discussing these extant passages dealing with the subject we honestly should be only talking about the passages which specifically deal with that topic. Texts like John 10:29 and Romans 8:37-39, practically the entire book of 1 John (which we have yet to really discuss), and other passages are integral to the discussion. Passages which only gloss over salvation or are ambiguous don’t help and only clutter the conversation.

    Lastly, there are things to remember about salvation which I believe strongly lean this discussion in my favor:
    1) Salvation is a gracious act of God
    2) Salvation is an eternally effecting condition:
    3) Salvation is a past event (see Luke 7:50; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; and 2 Timothy 1:9)
    4) Salvation presently is accomplished in us (see John 17:17; Romans 6:14; 8:2; Galatians 5:16; and Philippians 2:12–13)
    5) Salvation is fully realized in the future (see Romans 13:11; Ephesians 5:25–27; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3–5; and 1 John 3:1–2).

    Therefore, salvation is assured simply due to God’s unchanging character.

    I’ll leave you with Philippians 1:3-6, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”

    We are called to be confident that God will finish what he started. If you hold that salvation is not able to be lost, there are no theological loop holes to jump through. If you believe salvation could be lost, you now need to explain away why Paul can say he is confident in something that could be taken away…

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  47. Stewart, Paul could be confident in his salvation because he knew that he had “fought the good fight.” The very fact that he refers to the Godly lifestyle as a fight should tell us something…. It is a struggle, and our actions DO matter. Even Paul would lose his salvation if he failed to comply with God’s commands and refused to repent of his shortcomings. However, after living an obedient life before God, Paul knew that he was ready and was able to look forward to his reward.

    And yes, salvation IS a gracious act of God. In fact, the mere opportunity to be saved is a gracious act of God. God is faithful and will save those who comply with His requirements, but if someone refuses to obey him and remain faithful to Him, that person cannot continue to expect God’s salvation. I guess my point is that God has already provided the means for our salvation (of which baptism is a part, as pointed out previously). Is that not enough?

    This is by no means a thorough response, but I just wanted to get those thoughts out there. Sorry if this is a bit disjointed… Those pesky customers keep interrupting me. 🙂

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  48. Ryley,
    I whole heartedly agree that our actions matter. I would say that we are to bring glory to God through our actions (1 Corinthians 10:31 is the key verse), but that does not mean we can loose our salvation. A shipwrecked faith is possible, lost salvation is not; and that is the struggle Paul refers to.

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  49. Stewart’

    I agree with most of what you said about salvation, however you have a couple of premises that do not agree with scripture. Paul, in I corinthians 9, is saying that he could be lost if he didn’t struggle daily to serve God acceptably. Phillipians 1:3-6 is telling us that God keeps His promises and we can obtain them if we obey Him. Hebrews 5:9 tell us that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY Him.

    You said that “a shipwrecked faith is possible, lost salvation is not, and that is the struggle Paul refers to”. What? Haven’t you been saying that faith only saves you? If shipwrecked faith and being lost is not the same, then how can you claim faith has anything to do with salvation? I timothy 1:19 talks of some who had made shipwreck of their faith, and verse 20 says they were to be turned over to satan. Jesus said in Matthew that we cannor serve 2 masters, yet you seem to be saying that we can.

    It is interesting to note here that the only passage in the NT where “faith alone” or “faith only” is talked about is in James 2. Here it says plainly that faith alone doesn’t save. As a matter of fact, if you read the chapter carefully, you will see that verse 22 tells us that works are required to make faith complete. We can say confidently then that without works to accompany my faith, I cannot receive salvetion. Logically we can also claim that if at some point I stop serving God acceptably, I will lose my salvation (because I am no longer meeting the requirements of it).

    Fortunately we don’t have to rely on human logic, but God has told us this very thing. 2 Peter is a chapter that is addressing Christians, and notice what is said here. Specifically, in verse 15 the comparison is made to Balaam, and he says there are those who have “forsaken the right way, and are gone astray”. Obviously, to forsake and go astray means we have left the service of God. Verses 20-22 tell us that we can become entangled in the world again after leaving it, and the results will be worse than if we had never obeyed God to begin with. 2 Peter 3:17 talks about “being led away by the error of the wicked”. How can we be led away if we cannot lose our salvation?

    You make the claim, and rightfully so, that God’s character doesn’t change. However, your views are not consistant with your statement. In the old testament, God punished the disobedient among His children. If His character remains the same, He will punish the disobedient among His children today. I Corinthians 10:12 says we should be careful–we can fall from favor with God, thereby losing our salvation.

    Stewart, it seems to me you have accepted a couple of erroneous premises and are examining the scripture from them. If you look objectively at the NT you will find that it teaches compliance with the commands of God, and our salvation is dependant on obedience to God.

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  50. Jim,
    Never does James say that works are required for salvation… the closest he comes is stating that works justify a man. Justification is not salvation, they are two unique terms.
    Being justified means that we are a new creation… hence, our works prove, or work out, our salvation.
    Being justified means that we are made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) and are perfected forever (Hebrews 10:14).

    “Justification causes no one to be righteous. It is not the bestowment as such of righteousness. It rather proclaims one to be justified whom God sees as perfected in His Son. Therefore, this may be stated as the correct formula of justification: The sinner becomes righteous in God’s sight when he is in Christ; he is justified by God freely, or without a cause, because thereby he is righteous in His sight.” – L.S. Chafer.

    I find Romans 8:29-30 an interesting passage: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

    At the point of salvation, every aspect of the above passage is true. It is an all encompassing package… one cannot be predestined without also being glorified.

    My point is, there is no where in the entire Bible where you see that this package is lost or taken away. Justification is never lost, one cannot ever be unpredestined, or loose glorification.

    There is a reason why faith is the only necessity to salvation; faith embodies selflessness. Works are all about what I can do, my motivation behind a good work could be anything from pleasing my God (which would be proper) to looking good to the world (which would be improper). Faith is the only selfless measure of a person possible.

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  51. Look,
    It comes down to this: if God did choose faith alone as the only measure of salvation we must ask ourselves why? The answer is simple, faith is the only way to measure selflessness; everything else is rooted in self, our abilities, and our pride. Faith alone IS the only viable measure of true conversion.

    Second, Romans 8:29-30 is highly important to our discussion:
    “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

    Each of the above aspects are true at the point of salvation; there is no order of salvation, if you are glorified you are undeniably called. It is impossible to be predestined without being justified. There is no place in scripture where we find a predestined person not predestined anymore… never is one uncalled, or unjustified. There is no scriptural foundation for loss of salvation.

    I will state it again, a shipwrecked faith is not the same as loosing salvation.

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  52. Stewart,
    I believe that IF God had chosen faith alone as the only measure of salvation, He would have plainly told us so. I also believe there would not be the emphasis on obedience that we find throughout the Bible. If we are saved by faith alone, then obedience to the Commands of God (other than having faith) is not required. Where does the bible teach that ignoring God’s commands is pleasing to him? Does this even make sense?

    You state that a shipwrecked faith is not the same as losing salvation. What is it then? What are the NT passages that support this?

    Why can’t you just accept what the Bible plainly states about being saved? In comment #22 you asked for a single scripture that required something in addition to faith for salvation. A multitude of scripture has been pointed out by several commenters, yet you still hold blindly to the premise that “Faith only saves”. Faith saves, but saying “faith only” saves is no more correct than saying “baptism only” saves or “confession only” saves. Matthew 7:21 tells us we must DO the will of God, not just belive in it.

    What it really comes down to is this, we must OBEY from the heart what God has told us to do, which begins with faith, and proceeds on with obedience to all of God’s commands (see Romans 6).

    I implore you to look at the NT with an open mind. I have been enjoying the dialogue on this issue, but the intent is for us to all come to a better understanding of what God would have us do so that we can make it to heaven. Hopefully this process will help us to examine our beliefs in light of what the scriptures say and act accordingly.

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  53. Well, I typed up a long reply only to have it disappear. 😦

    Stewart, first of all, I think you and I might hold some differing opinions about predestination and being “called out.” I think I’ll do a post about the subject, so keep an eye out for it if you’re interested.

    I think you’d agree that for Christians, the Old Testament was given to teach us about God (Gal 3). In it, we see where God demanded sincere service, where he deserved and demanded the best, where actions had consequences, and where disobedience led to punishment. But it seems to me, that you think that God doesn’t act that way today. If so, how does OT serve as an example for us? And wouldn’t that mean that God is NOT the same yesterday, today, and forever?

    Think about the Israelites. Moses led them to inherit the “Promised Land,” but when they turned away – when they refused to enter because they lost their faith in God – God sent them away. They all wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation passed away. What a fantastic example for our relationship with God today! We are God’s people (Christians), and we can expect to enter our “Promised Land” of heaven. But if we turn away from God – if we put something else before him – then we forfeit our chance of inheriting our “Promised Land” just like the Israelites did.

    You’ve impressed me as being someone that holds extreme reverence for God’s word, as someone who longs to do the right thing no matter what it might be, simply because “God says so.” But to be completely candid with you, I don’t think you are looking at this issue as clearly as you do some of the other ones. God’s plan of salvation was meant to be understood simply. Just think about those who tended to follow Jesus: fishermen, farmers, peasants, etc. Most of them were not extremely educated, and they didn’t have to be. The message is simple. If we will put away whatever preconceived ideas we might hold about God’s word and simply read it for what it says, then the truth will be evident.

    What does his word teach?

    Is there any passage that says faith alone saves us? No; however, there are plenty that teach us faith is definitely required for salvation. Some passages teach that baptism is necessary for salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21), but none of them teach baptism alone. Other passages teach about repentance (Acts 2:38, 2 Pet 3:9) and confession (Rom 10:9-10) are necessary for salvation, but neither of them are said to do it alone.

    In truth, all of those things are necessary. God’s grace is what actually saves us (Eph 2:8-9) through Christ’s sacrifice. But before he will give it to us, we must have sincere faith in Christ. And that sincere faith will cause us to repent of our past sins and live a life of service to him; therefore, we’ll gladly confess our belief and then subject ourselves in baptism to wash away our sins, allowing us to rise (as Christ rose from the grave) to live a new life in service to him (Romans 6:3-4). At that point, we receive the salvation that Christ has already paid for and that God offers to all who come. We didn’t have to work for it; we merely had to accept it.

    And if we later fall away from service to God – if we decide to put other things before him, then we can no longer hope to live eternally with him in heaven. As he told the Children of Israel long ago, “you shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). God won’t accept second place, and we shouldn’t expect him to.

    Please, look at those things. Think about the whole message of God’s word.

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  54. Stewart,

    I’m sorry, all your comments didn’t show up when I typed my response, but let me address one other issue. James 2:14 introduces the idea of faith, works, and salvation. From the context of the passage, salvation and justification are definately related, and appear to be the same. I don’t believe the bible teaches that I can be saved without being justified or vice-versa. We are either servants of God or servants of sin. There is no middle ground.

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  55. I agree with that. The Bible has only ever talked about two types of people. Those who are saved and those who are lost. Salvation, justification, sanctification, etc, are all things used to talk about Christians, God’s chosen people. Every one else is lost. If you aren’t sanctified, or set apart by God, then you aren’t saved, and vice versa. If you aren’t justified, then you aren’t saved, and vice versa.

    There is no 3rd group that’s somewhere in between.

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  56. If you agree with those last couple of comments, then what conclusion does that bring you to on “once saved always saved”? Because as we’ve all seen, Hebrews 10:26-31 says that one who has been sanctified, but turns away, will be lost?

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  57. As for the rest,
    Just briefly I’ll comment about my beliefs and the God of the OT.

    Nate, you stated:
    “I think you’d agree that for Christians, the Old Testament was given to teach us about God (Gal 3). In it, we see where God demanded sincere service, where he deserved and demanded the best, where actions had consequences, and where disobedience led to punishment. But it seems to me, that you think that God doesn’t act that way today. If so, how does OT serve as an example for us? And wouldn’t that mean that God is NOT the same yesterday, today, and forever?”

    1) Yes, I would agree that the OT was given to teach us about God.
    2) Yes, I agree with your overview no how God acted; however I disagree on WHY God acted that way (see below)
    3) No, I believe God did act the same as He did then (see below)
    4) The OT serves as an example in multiple ways, the historical account of Israel’s continuous disobedience is only one aspect of the greater whole.
    5) God is unchanging, we do agree here as well.

    Ok, where my view differs from yours is specifically on why God acted the way He did in the OT. I would say that God’s Law was not about obedience… it was all about grace. The Law according to Romans 7 was to teach about sin, in fact Paul says that it made sin abound.

    So why do I say the law is grace? Think about it this way, we know the difference between right and wrong regardless if someone has told us… this is our conscience. It is an aspect of humanity that we all have (granted some have seared consciences). I can prove this by a simple illustration, if a young child is jumping on a sofa and their parent walks in the room, they will stop; even if they have never been told not to jump on furniture. So the parent now lays down the law, a rule that has always had a consequence even if not previously known. Not jumping on furniture is good for many reasons, one of which is protection of the jumping child. The same is true of the Mosaic Law, even before the Law was given the Israelites knew they were not to do certain things. The Law was given for their protection (among other reasons). For this reason the Law is a manifestation of God’s grace to His chosen people.

    A child follows their parent out of love, a disobedient child is still loved. The same is true of Israel and their relation to God. And this is exactly why faith alone saves… selfless love for God is the purest form of faith; and this is why we obey His commands. Not because we have to, but because we love Him. The same was true of Israel… God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. All He has ever asked of us is to place Him first in our lives; and this is why not all Israel will be called Israel (the whole point of Romans 9-11).

    I think that might clarify my view better than before.

    Oh and Ephesians 2:8-9 yes teaches that we are saved by grace; but grace is on God’s side alone… faith is the aspect we add in. Therefore, saved by grace (what God does) through faith (what we do)… is the only way to heaven. Lastly, verse 9 does say not through works… and physical water baptism undeniably is a work of man; which is why I believe baptism is what a believer does after salvation, it is a step of trust and obedience rooted in love of the God who has now graciously given you a new life.

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  58. Not everyone’s conscience works in the same way. Some people feel things are sinful that others think are perfectly fine. Just look at the different cultures in the world today. That’s why 1 Cor 8-10 and Romans 14 talk about considering one another’s conscience – the things listed there are things that offended some people, but not others. And having two small children, I also have to disagree with you on your point about jumping on the couch. Very young children do all kinds of things, whether their parents are there or not, that they shouldn’t do, and they won’t understand that they shouldn’t do it until they’ve been told.

    And the Old Law was definitely something that was supposed to be followed. You’re right in saying that all God really wanted was to be loved and placed in the highest priority, but if the Israelites had done that, then they would have followed the law more closely than they did. Galatians 5:3 and James 2:10 both point out that the Old Law was something that was supposed to be kept perfectly. That the only way to be justified through the law was perfection.

    Obviously, that’s something that is impossible for us, and that’s why Christ’s sacrifice was so necessary. The Old Law was given to point toward grace, not be grace. The Old Law was given as a contrast to what we have now, in that God knows we won’t live perfectly. However, that doesn’t give us free reign to live as we’d like now; the NT is very clear about how we are to live our lives serving God. His grace covers us in the areas that we lack.

    God is the same because he wants to be given first place in our lives, as you said. But he’s also the same in that he expects sincere obedience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking obedience is optional under either law.

    Finally, I understand that you think baptism is a “work” performed after salvation based on Eph 2:8-9, but there are many other passages that say that’s not the case. In order for the Bible to keep its harmony, those passages must be considered.

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  59. Could the Israelites be justified by the Law?

    Also, I strongly agree that grace does not give us free reign to do what we want. In fact I would claim that grace teaches us not to do that which is contrary to our fleshly desires.

    Also, I would agree that obedience is not optional. But people obey due to their love of God. What I am saying is that the giving of the Law was not about obedience, I’m saying there is a bigger picture; i.e. grace.

    How does Romans 10:9-11 fit in to your theology of salvation, for neither baptism or good deeds are mentioned?

    “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

    Seems to me that the sole requirement is faith… believing on Him.

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  60. Sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to you.

    But to answer your question, Romans 10:9-10 fits in fine with my beliefs. I absolutely believe that confession and faith are necessary for salvation.

    Where you and I differ is in my acceptance of passages that teach repentance and baptism are just as necessary. Your view doesn’t allow for that; therefore, a contradiction occurs.

    The goal is for the Bible to make sense in a cohesive whole. The stories we read about God in the Old Testament teach us that he expects reverence and that disobedience brings consequences. Those lessons apply to us today. Furthermore, it makes sense that God would have given us some things we must do (baptism, etc) to illustrate our faith in order for us to receive salvation. Again, we have many Old Testament examples that teach us that: Abraham offering Isaac, Naaman dipping 7 times in the Jordan, etc.

    You said, “Seems to me that the sole requirement is faith… believing on Him,” and yet the very passage you quote actually lists two things: faith and confession. While one is dependant upon the other, they are still separate things.

    As James 2 tells us, “faith without works is dead.”

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  61. Nate,
    Good points; also I believe we are beginning to understand each other’s points of view.

    Therefore, I have a question:
    Can a person repent of their sins without first trusting Christ as their personal Lord and Savior?

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  62. Not truly. In a worldly sense of the word, someone can “repent” in that they feel sorry about something, and might even change their behavior.

    But repentance in the Bible refers to a decision (and follow-through) to change based on a faith in Christ. I imagine that’s something you’d agree with me on…

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  63. Exactly, I completely agree that in repentance as defined in Scriptures is not possible without faith in Christ. Also, you are correct in distinguishing the different connotations connected to the word, while most people do take repentance to infer agony of sin or wrongdoing; the actual definition of the word reflects a change of mind. This in no way removes the often accompanying grief; but grief or sorrow is not the focus — the reversal of mind is.

    I would state 1 thessalonians 1:9-10 as a great illustration of repentance:
    “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

    Anyway, this theological truth makes repentance an outcropping of faith. Repentance occurs as a result of faith; therefore, repentance is not a requirement for salvation. Whenever a text refers to repent and be saved, faith must be assumed to have taken place prior to salvation. I assume you would agree with this, but feel free to correct me.

    My point is, certain aspects (such as repentance) are outcroppings of faith placed in Jesus.

    Would you place obedience to Christ as a result of faith? Or is it possible to obey Him apart from salvation? What about good works?

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  64. Maybe you’re right; maybe we are finally getting down to the basic elements of what we both believe.

    I agree with you that true repentance is an outcropping of faith. But I think you have to be careful with conclusions like this one: “Repentance occurs as a result of faith; therefore, repentance is not a requirement for salvation.” To clear up my meaning, let me illustrate it in the following way:

    Without gasoline, you can’t start a car (well, most cars anyway…). When you turn the ignition switch, the spark plug ignites the gasoline, and your car starts. So, if I make the statement, “You must turn the ignition switch in order to start your car,” we shouldn’t take it and say that since the car must have gas in order for the ignition switch to work, then it’s really only the gas that starts the car. After all, if you have a full tank of gas, but don’t turn the switch, that car’s not going to start.

    In the same way, if we have passages that tell us we must repent in order to be saved, we can’t look at them and say, “Well, it’s really only the faith that matters,” since we know that faith is what causes repentance. Instead, we must understand that both are necessary.

    Take the example you gave in 1 Thess 1. I agree that true repentance is shown here in that the Thessalonians turned from idols. However, if they had faith, but had never turned from the idols, would they have been saved? I don’t think so. However, if we deny that repentance has anything to do with salvation, then they would have been.

    My belief is this: We are afforded the opportunity for salvation solely based on God’s grace. That’s what saves us, and what enables salvation at all. But he’s also told us that to receive that salvation we must have faith. And that faith drives us to repent, confess Jesus as the Christ, and be baptized for the remission of our sins. While God’s grace gives us that opportunity, and while our faith is what drives us to do it, the Bible teaches that all of those things are necessary to receive salvation.

    To answer your last questions though, yes, I do believe it’s possible to do good works without faith. And the individual who does that has no hope of eternal salvation, because “without faith, it is impossible to please him.” But that doesn’t mean that one who has faith but no works is any more pleasing to God, because “faith without works is dead.”

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  65. Nate,
    Your last paragraph hit the proverbial nail right on the head. I would say that good works weeds out true faith from merely claimed faith.

    Anyway, how can you agree with me that repentance is a result, or outcropping, of faith and at the same time claim both repentance and faith are required for salvation? It can only be one or the other.
    Placing faith in Christ causes you to realize your sinful nature and in response repent. Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit who works in us to create a new creation.

    As for your comment on 1 Thessalonians, you are completely forgetting about progressive sanctification. If the Thessalonians did not turn from idols they still would be saved and God would be working in them to repent–reverse their minds–and turn away from that sin. This happens all the time, a Christians’ walk with God strengthens over time. Many of our habitual sins fade away, some take 20 years, and others never do. But that is the life of a Christian, and God’s glory is shown through our weaknesses and His help in overcoming sin and sanctifying our lives.

    Under your theology we cannot ever know if we are going to heaven or not; for I could possibly loose my salvation. 1 John was written so that we may know we are saved!!! and that we may comfort in that fact!!! (see 1 John 1:1-4 and 5:13)

    Lastly, being assured of my salvation does not mean that I can abuse God’s grace and do whatever I want; for Scripture does not teach that. Grace teaches me not live a worldly life; and being assured of my salvation makes me want to go out and proclaim it to the world.

    The good news has come to all, and no one (not even myself) can remove me as chosen child of god.

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  66. “Anyway, how can you agree with me that repentance is a result, or outcropping, of faith and at the same time claim both repentance and faith are required for salvation? It can only be one or the other.”

    Why do you say that? Where are we told that God requires only one thing from us? I can point you to many passages that talk about faith, repentance, confession, baptism, living a godly life, being kind and hospitable to one another, etc. And all of them speak as though whether or not we do those things will affect our eternal status.

    “As for your comment on 1 Thessalonians, you are completely forgetting about progressive sanctification. If the Thessalonians did not turn from idols they still would be saved and God would be working in them to repent–reverse their minds–and turn away from that sin. “

    No, I do understand that we are not perfect and never will be. I know that God only expects us to do our best (which includes growing). But idolatry is not the same thing as someone who has dedicated themselves to God, but still struggles in some areas. Someone engaged in idolatry hasn’t tried to put God first.

    In Acts 2, Peter told those gathered at Pentecost that to be saved they had to do two things: repent of their sins and be baptized. If they had not repented, their salvation would not have been genuine (and remember, they were repenting of putting Jesus to death – their repentance was absolutely necessary). Their faith had already been realized, since we’re told they were “cut to the heart” and then asked Peter what they should do. Those who were really convicted would have obeyed Peter’s commands and been saved. Those who didn’t obey weren’t. It’s really that simple.

    “Under your theology we cannot ever know if we are going to heaven or not; for I could possibly loose my salvation. 1 John was written so that we may know we are saved!!! and that we may comfort in that fact!!! (see 1 John 1:1-4 and 5:13)”

    I agree with you that part of the message of 1 John was to give Christians confidence in their salvation. Some of Paul’s epistles did the same thing. But being confident of something doesn’t mean you’re irrevocably in that state.

    For instance, I’m confident that I’m 28 years old. But I won’t be forever. I’m confident that I’m a Jimi Hendrix fan. But my tastes could one day change.

    As long as we are truly serving God to the best of our abilities, we can be confident that we are saved. But if we aren’t doing our best, or if we’ve turned away after something else, then we lose that confidence, because we’re no longer upholding our end of the covenant that God has established with us.

    20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,”[e] and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” – 2 Pet 20-22

    26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[e] says the Lord.[f] And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”[g] 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Heb 10:26-31

    15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. – Heb 12:15-17

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  67. God expects service. He shows us that over and over again. When the Children of Israel turned their nose up at the Promised Land, they were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. God didn’t accept sacrifices that were blemished – they had to be the best. When Nadab and Abihu offered something other than what God had wanted, they were killed for it.

    God loves us. But he is also just. He has given us a way to be forgiven of our many sins; he has given us a way to be pleasing to him. But that doesn’t mean that he will save us regardless of how we treat him or the sacrifice of his son. As Christ said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Our Savior must come first. If he doens’t, then we can’t expect to receive the reward he offers. We don’t have to give perfect service, but we have to serve (and strive for perfection), nonetheless.

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  68. [I] As for your comment on 1 Thessalonians, you are completely forgetting about progressive sanctification. If the Thessalonians did not turn from idols they still would be saved and God would be working in them to repent–reverse their minds–and turn away from that sin. This happens all the time, a Christians’ walk with God strengthens over time. Many of our habitual sins fade away, some take 20 years, and others never do. But that is the life of a Christian, and God’s glory is shown through our weaknesses and His help in overcoming sin and sanctifying our lives.[/I]

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  69. Stewart,

    I meant to quote you in the above post, i’m not sure what happened. Anyhow, on to my point.

    Where do you get this idea of progressive sanctification? What scripture do you have to suggest that one can go on sinning turning their backs on God, worshiping idols and still be saved? Not to sound mean, but come on, that doesn’t make any sense at all. That contridicts so much scripture that deals with our walk with God its crazy.

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  70. Think about it this way,
    When you were saved did you stop sinning? No.
    Do you still sin X years later? Yes
    Why? Because sanctification is a process we are slowly moving from point A to point Z.
    In the technical sense there are three distinct aspects to sanctification:

    1) Positionally through Christ’s shed blood Christians are sanctified. This does not mean we are perfect only in a positional relationship with God we are seen as Holy. This aspect of the doctrine of sanctification is found in passages such as Romans 12:1, Ephesians 4:1, and Colossians 3:1 among others.

    2) Yet sanctification carries with it another aspect which I’ll call experimental. Where our positional sanctification is associated with a one time event (namely our salvation), experimental sanctification deals with our everyday walk. On one level it is our willingness to follow God Paul mentions this also in Romans 12:1 when he notes, “it is your reasonable service.” Also in Romans 6 and 7 where Paul discusses the war going on with in his very flesh. Why else would John write “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:1-2) to a church of saved individuals. Basically both these apostles are getting at the fact that Christ died to free you from sin… so why are you still sinning? That question leads us directly into the final aspect.

    3) Sanctification is the result of Christian growth. We are to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and approach God with an “unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This transformation is the result of progressive sanctification; a Christian may be blameless before God, but he is sure not faultless.

    Sanctification is not complete until a believer is in glory with Christ.

    As for your other question, I am not saying that a person who continues to worship false Gods is saved. Remember that an idol is anything that one places ahead of God in their life, an idol could be anything that draws proper attention from God. In this respect we all have idols in our lives and turn our backs of God; for some its money, for others its blogging instead of reading the scriptures (for this very reason I try and limit my internet time). What I am saying is that God continues to work in a believer from spiritual baby steps till perfection in glory.

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  71. I basically agree with your last comment. Simply put, it’s this: God expects our best. We are not perfect, but we are to continually grow in knowledge and behavior. We’ll never reach perfection, but that should always be our goal.

    Included in that is repentance of sins when we err, and changing our behaviors when we gain better understanding of what God wants of us.

    The difference between us, is that I believe (and believe the Bible clearly teaches) that failing to do our best can have eternal consequences. You don’t seem to agree with that. You think that once we’ve become Christians, God will accept any degree of service we choose to give him – but the Bible just doesn’t teach that.

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  72. I do not believe that God will accept any degree of service.
    Deuteronomy 11:44, “Be ye holy for, I am holy.”
    All I am saying is that as believers we have eternal security.
    Therefore, as I’ve stated above our treasures in heaven are being stored up by our good works here on Earth.

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  73. If believers have eternal security, then God accepts any degree of service. There’s really no way around that.

    However, believers can and should have confidence and “security” in their salvation, if they are honestly doing their best. And if they repent and ask for forgiveness when they know they’ve come short. The example of Simon the sorcerer shows us that, Acts 8.

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  74. Granted, but our treasures in heaven are based on that service; even Christians face a future judgment.
    Our good works here on earth give us greater treasures in heaven, this is why Jesus proclaimed the least on earth will be the greatest in heaven and vice versa. However, those works mean absolutely nothing without faith and I believe that is what James was saying.

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  75. Stewart,
    While it is true that works without faith are meaningless, James is telling us that faith without works is worthless also. Of course, these works must be the works God has authorized us to perform, or they will be worthless too.

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  76. Jim,
    I would disagree. All of the scriptural correlations between faith and salvation explicitly show that works do not matter for salvation; therefore James must be saying something else. Note exactly what James says “…and I will show you my faith BY my works” (James 2:18b). In other words true faith is demonstrated through deeds which bring glory to God. Doing good works only acts as a barometer of progressive sanctification, good works (or even the lack there of) never proves salvation. James is saying that saved people outwardly manifest their faith through good works.

    Furthermore, I strongly believe that there were misunderstandings concerning works and faith during the early years of the Church. James was correct in what he was saying, but James was not combating this philosophy. His epistle was written to combat a different problem in the church and that is why he worded things the way he did.

    A few years later another Apostle wrote on the exact same matters, except he was focusing on this problem of misunderstanding. Paul wrote, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:5-6). He continues hammering the point home that salvation comes through faith alone by making it very clear that Abraham was credited righteousness through faith prior to any good work; even prior to circumcision (Romans 4:9-12). Paul further explains that this portion of Genesis was written so we may know the truth, “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:23-25).

    In conclusion, since Paul was writing specifically on this topic and since James was actually focusing on the practical side of faith, Romans takes priority over James; hence, any interpretation must take this into account. James and Paul were saying the same thing, salvation by faith alone; James was just saying that one who is saved should show the fruit of that salvation or their claim may be false.

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  77. Stewart:

    The New Testament does not contradict itself. I agree that Paul was addressing the idea that we can’t earn salvation on our own merits. Abraham’s faith WAS counted for righteousness. However, if you will continue reading in Romans, you will find that in the 6th chapter Paul tells the Romans they had been saved by obedience to God’s commands. The 6th chapter also explains how baptism works in bringing about salvation. NEVER DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT TALK ABOUT FAITH ALONE EXCEPT TO SAY IT ISN’T SUFICIENT FOR SALVATION. The writings of Paul don’t trump the writings of James, but they agree with them.

    To use the argument that James does, let me ask you this: Where does the New Testament say that “Faith alone saves us” ? I can show you (James 2:14-26) where Faith alone doesn’t save us. Who am I to believe? You or God? I don’t read anywhere in the New Testament that belief in Stewart will do anything for me, yet you seem to want me to ignore what the Bible plainly says to accept an unsupportable claim that you are making.

    If you do have a new testament scripture that plainly says faith alone save us, then I will admit I’m wrong and will repent and ask God to forgive me for teaching a false doctrine. If you can’t supply a scripture that plainly says faith alone saves us, then, in light of what is plainly said in James 2, will you do the same?

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  78. First off Jim, I did not mean to strike a nerve.

    Second, I very clearly stated above that the two passages WERE NOT contradicting each other but were talking about different aspects of faith, one practical and the other doctrinal. Paul was explaining how faith is directly related to salvation; James on how faith was to be lived out.

    Third, scripture:
    Habakkuk 2:2-3, “The LORD answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Ok, here God is talking about a future time to come. Notice what He says next: “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Granted this doesn’t fully support my claim, but it is a step toward it.

    The gospels: Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 9:2,22,29; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; 21:21; 23:23; 25:21,23; Mark 2:5; 4:40; 5:34; 10:52; 11:22; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:48; 12:28; 17:19; 18:8,42; 19;17.
    These verses all show that Jesus specifically focused on faith. He did not focus on whether the person was doing good works; He directed everything to faith. In fact on a few occasions He explicitly made it clear that faith alone was all that mattered, “Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace'” (Luke 7:50). Also Jesus makes the directed comment, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). When Jesus returns He will be directly looking for those people of true faith placed in Him. The entirety of Matthew 25:114-29 (The Parable of the Talents) is focusing on the faithful servant; not only is Jesus referring to the tribulation, but at faith itself. God gave all of us the ability to accept His gracious gift but there is a difference between believing God and placing your faith in what He has, is, and will do: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!” (James 2:19).

    “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).

    In addressing the Gentiles as believers: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Hold Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).

    In Jesus own words to Paul, He states sanctification only comes through faith: “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 28:17-18).

    Then of course there is the classic passage which Dr. Martin Luther used to declare separation from the Catholic church; that salvation comes through faith alone, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). Furthermore, the reason why I mentioned Habakkuk 2 above was because this was the vision Paul was referring back to in this passage; God foretold a time when faith alone allowed entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

    Romans 3:21-26, “But now uthe righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law wand the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    Also, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law” (Romans 3:28).

    There is also Romans 4, which I mentioned in the previous post.

    Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

    1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” Coupled with, “And if Christ is not risen, tour faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Notice the correlation between faith and being still in sin, it is faith in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ which releases us from the bondage of sin.

    Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

    Once again harkening back to Habakkuk, “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith” Galatians 3:11).

    Also, in Galatians Paul explains that the Law’s purpose was to teach the Hebrews that a savior was needed… that justification through faith alone has now come: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:22-26).

    Additionally there is the previously mentioned Ephesians 2:8-9, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    Ephesians 3:8-13, explains grace in greater detail and states God has done everything in accordance to His eternal purpose and that access to the throne of God has now come through faith: “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12).

    “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).

    I found this passage interesting (honestly never noticed it before), “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). Paul refers to our discussion an elementary principle of doctrine, lol. Boy that makes me feel incredibly smart right now 😀

    Habakkuk 2 is mentioned once again in Hebrews 10:37-38 (for full context start reading in verse 32.

    Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a window into the heart of man, it is where our hope is placed, hence why it is the only barometer that can be measured apart from self.

    Of course all of chapter 11 of Hebrews discusses faith and how God even in Old Testament times focused on man’s faith. Verses 13-16 are essentially important to our discussion. Here, it is clear that these men were saved through faith; for they died in faith (v.13) and God prepared a city for them (v.16).

    1 Peter 1:3-9, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

    While this list of verses is not exhaustive, each passage presented notes strongly supports my belief that salvation comes through faith alone. Once again I believe James IS saying the same thing, but from the angle that good works prove/complete/make perfect faith. The Biblical data concerning faith, works and salvation lie heavily on the side that faith alone saves.

    I pray that all this information sinks in and that you see I am not making an unsupported claim.

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  79. Stewart,

    I appreciate your reply. Just a couple of points in reply. I believe that all the passages you quoted point out how important faith is in our lives. Without faith, nothing else matters in pursuit of salvation. However, none of these passages say that faith only saves. As a matter of fact, in Hebrews 11, these great characters of faith were all obedient to God’s commands. Notice that they all, by faith, did something. You even made the point that the deeds done make faith comlete. I agree with that statement, which shows that faith by itself is incomplete.

    Christ tells us in Matthew 7:21 that to be saved we must “DOETH the will of the Father”. Paul , in Acts 9, 22, and 26, in the telling of his conversion, tells how he had to OBEY what God told him. This included baptism. Paul had faith in God even when he was persecuting christians, yet he was not in a saved state. Obviously something else was needed.

    In Romans 6:17-18, we read that they had obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that had been delivered to them, and were then made free from sin.

    All of these examples (and many more) tell us how we must render obedience to God’s word in order to obtain salvation. Certainly faith is an integral part of this, just not the only part.

    Stewart, I am going to put the “dead cat” on the table here. You have started with a false premise, which is comforting and sounds good, and you are looking at the scriptures and trying to make them fit with this premise. If you will look at the scriptures with an open mind, you will have to come to the conclusion that God expects obedience out of us. Salvation is not of faith only, as is plainly stated in James 2. Faith is the foundation upon which our works of obedience must rest, but by itself it is incomplete and ineffective.

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  80. Stewart, I was about to make the very same comment. All the passages you listed do indeed show the importance of faith. In fact, they are all passages that I very much agree with. But none of them teach that salvation is by faith alone.

    I don’t think this is anything new to you. It’s really the same argument that I and the others on this thread have been making, and the Bible makes it very obvious. After all, can’t you think of several passages that talk about salvation coming through God’s grace, repentance, confession, and even baptism? The only way to rationalize all of that is to understand that they are all related, and all necessary.

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  81. Interesting,
    I would agree that works complete faith, but works do not complete salvation. Furthermore, the entire reformation is based off the idea that salvation comes through faith alone. I mean all Baptist and Protestant denominations today are based off this fundamental belief. Furthermore, the writings of the early church Fathers strongly lean in the same direction.

    I fully admit that my interpretation of the scriptures could be wrong. The scriptures themselves must correct, refine, and either confirm or disprove our understanding of doctrine.

    We all would probably agree that we are under the age of grace. And I believe that understanding must be our starting point. Christ and the gospel saves, right? Everything must be interpreted in light of these truths. This is a major thrust in all of Paul’s writings: God promised a time that the Law would not be necessary, and that time has now been realized in Christ.

    My point is, if Christ is the completion of the law and Ephesians 2:8 clearly states, “for by grace you have been saved through faith” (once again, grace is what God has given us and faith is all that is required according to this verse)… then why are works necessary for salvation?

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  82. “then why are works necessary for salvation?”

    Well, cliche as it may sound: because God said so.

    Yes, we are under the age of grace; the Old Law’s authority has been done away with. We are no longer justified by works, but by grace through faith. But James 2 and the examples in Hebrews 11 (and elsewhere) all show that faith is completed in works.

    Now, if that’s all the information we had on it, then Stewart, I’d agree with your position: that faith is all that’s required of us, but in order for us to please God, we should try to live according to his word.

    But there are other passages that must be taken into account. Like we’ve said before, repentance, confession, etc are all talked about in the scriptures. And of course, the one we seem to really struggle with, baptism.

    Once again, I would be inclined to think that baptism was merely another “work” God wanted us to do once we had been saved. But we have passages that tell us there’s more to baptism than just that.

    Many passages tell us that baptism washes away sin (Acts 22:16), or is for the remission of sin (Acts 2:38), or is involved in the process to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20), or is how we enter into Christ (Gal 3:27, Rom 6:3-17), or is how we are saved (1 Pet 3:21).

    Do you see my point? If we weren’t given these teachings, then I would be right there with you, proclaiming that all a man needs to do is have faith to be saved. But I can’t do that in light of these other passages.

    I’d like to answer a couple of your other points too:

    “Furthermore, the entire reformation is based off the idea that salvation comes through faith alone. I mean all Baptist and Protestant denominations today are based off this fundamental belief.”

    This is why I don’t consider myself to be Baptist or Protestant. The Lord told us that his church would always stand. I don’t believe that it disappeared for hundreds of years until Protestants came to the scene. I believe there have always been small congregations of faithful Christians throughout history, and it’s this group that I strive to belong to.

    “Furthermore, the writings of the early church Fathers strongly lean in the same direction.”

    Then some of these “church Fathers” may be suspect. I’m not trying to be beligerent; I think it can be useful to study those writings to see what people at the time thought about certain issues. But I can’t let their stance lead me from plain passages. They may have misunderstood something.

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  83. Faith completed by works does not mean works are required for salvation.

    I hold to progressive sanctification, and I believe passages like Romans 12:1-2 and others show that we must strive to keep our faith strong, pure, and refreshed or else we will not grow in Christ.

    Therefore, works are rightly relegated to a byproduct of salvation, not a requirement of.

    Every time I read through James trying to grasp your presentation and I just don’t see it, this is the only place in the New Testament were works is even mentioned with faith. All those passages I listed show how important faith is to salvation, and none of them mention works. Furthermore, when you study what God’s grace is and couple that with faith, the logical conclusion is that salvation comes through faith alone. James, therefore, must be interpreted in light of all the other evidence.

    Since I obviously am interpreting James in light of other passages (i.e. Ephesians 2:8-9) and you are starting with James… I guess my question would be, why do you place James as your primer for interpretation of salvation requirements?

    Please don’t misunderstand, we are both using scripture to interpret scripture (as we should). I am just wondering why you are starting with James.

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  84. Stewart,

    I am not starting with James, I just give it as much importance as I do the rest of the New Testament.

    Let me try to explain it this way. In Genesis 12, God gives promises to Abraham. These promises include a land that the people of Israel would be given. These promises are repeated to all the patriarchs and we find the fullfillment of this land promise in Joshua’s day when the land of Canaan is invades, conquererd, and settled. Notice that even though this land was a gift from God, they were required to enter the land, drive out the nations inhabiting the land and possess it and remain faithful to God. God helped them conquer the land, and could have driven out the nations without any participation of the Israelites. However, they had to put forth the effort to fight for the land in order to receive it. In the same way, we have a promise of a promised land today, which is that home in heaven that is promised to all who obey God. It is a gift, we don’t earn it, but we must comply with the requirements or conditions of the promise, just as Israel had to in the old testament.

    Furthermore, James isn’t yhe only place in the new testament that refers to works that we must do, or commands we must keep. All throughout the book of Acts we find people being told to do things to obtain remission of sins and receive salvation. Faith, repentance, confession of Christ as the son of God, baptism, and remaining a faithful servant of God are commanded of those in Acts, as well as being taught in the epistles.

    There are works we are to perform in our daily lives after we become Christians, but there are works God has commanded us to perform in order to become a Christian (or to be in a saved condition). Failure to obey these commands can only result in our soul being lost.

    Besides, if James was the only place where works were commanded, would that make them any less important? If one passage in the new testament said “faith only saves”, would I be justified in ignoring it or explaining it away? I Corinthians 11 tell us how to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Since it is the only passage that gives us detail on this, can I ignore it? I don’t read of God telling Adam and Eve “not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” more than once, but He held them to it. King Saul was only told once to utterly destroy the Amelikites in I Kings, but was rebuked because he left the king and cattle alive. He was told he had disobeyed God, even though He had faith in God and did some of what God commanded.

    My point in all this is that I only know what is pleasing to God by what I am told in the scriptures. In the new testament He tells me I must have faith (Hebrews 11:1), I must repent of my sins (Acts 2:38), I must confess (Romans 10:9-10), be baptized(I peter 3:21), and live faithfully (Revelation 2:10). These are not the only passages that tell me these things, but wouldn’t you agree that even if they were, God would expect me to do what He has Commanded?

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  85. Stewart,
    I’m sorry, but I made an erroneous reference. The reference to King Saul and the Amalekites is in I Samuel 15, not I Kings. Sorry for the mistake.

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  86. You stated,
    “There are works we are to perform in our daily lives after we become Christians, but there are works God has commanded us to perform in order to become a Christian (or to be in a saved condition). Failure to obey these commands can only result in our soul being lost.”

    Honestly, I think you are confusing dispensational distinctives.

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  87. Also, I am not saying James is not important… it very much is.

    What I am saying is that Ephesians along with Romans (and others) contradict James. On a literal word-by-word reading they do not agree. Therefore, I am positioning that James is actually discussing the practical side of faith not what one must do to gain or keep salvation.

    My argument has always been such and has never changed. I know that it is hard to understand but we are not under the law, we are under grace.

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  88. Honestly, I think you are confusing dispensational distinctives

    What do you mean by that?

    Stewart, James is not the only place that talks about “works.” It is true that Romans and Ephesians talk alot of faith and grace, but even they mention necessity of obeying God’s commands. Romans 6:3-14 talks about the importance of baptism and of avoiding sin. In Romans 10:9-10, confession is talked about in conjunction with belief. In Ephesians 2:8-10, the importance of works is mentioned in conjunction with faith and grace. Ephesians 4:4 talks about baptism, and Ephesians 5 talks about putting away works of the flesh to pursue works of the spirit.

    All of it is required; how I wish you could see that! You can’t say that salvation is won solely by faith any more than I could claim it’s won solely by works. The thing is, both are required. And once God sees by our faith (made evident through our works) that we’re trying to serve him, then his grace will save us – just as Abraham had to go to the point of bringing the knife down toward Isaac before God accepted his faith.

    Paul wrote constantly about faith and grace, but go read the book of Acts. How many times do you see Paul stressing the importance of baptism? And he also stressed it in Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:27, and many other places besides.

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  89. Stewart,
    I don’t think it is hard to understand at all. I too believe that we are under grace, not under the old law. It is thru God’s grace that we have been given the gift of salvation. We don’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, and it is only thru the grace of God that He has given His son to die for our sins, while we were yet sinners. Since I do not believe that the NT contradicts itself, then I must conclude that God has placed requirements on me that I must meet to be able to receive the gift. Certainly, we agree that faith is one of these requirements. Further, what I believe the NT teaches, is that there are other requirements also. We are plainly told to repent, confess, and be baptized. Colosians 1:14 tell us we have redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins. Galations 3:27 tell us we are baptized into Christ. Romans 6 tell us that we were baptized into Christ, and we must be His servants. Without baptism, we do not come into contact with the blood of Christ, which is what cleanses us from sin. Yes, faith is an important part of this, for without faith we are just wet. Therefore, faith and baptism work together.

    It is obvious that the faith called for in the NT is an obedient faith. Faith, without obedience, is not true faith. It takes compliance with the requirements of God to be pleasing to Him.

    Also, I don’t think I have confused dispensations. My use of old testament examples was to try to prove a point. Romans 15:4 tells us that we are to learn from the old Testament. I Corinthians 10:11 tells us that the stories of old are for our examples. I was just trying to show that in the past God has demanded compliance with His requirements for people to receive His gifts. I believe the analogy fits with NT scripture.

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  90. Dispensations:
    In essence a dispensation is a period of time (often translated as an “age” throughout the Bible). A prime theological passage for explaining the idea is Hebrews 1:1-2, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the ages.” This is a declaration that Christ has arranged and programmed successive ages or dispensations of time. The term dispensation comes from Ephesians 3:1-2, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles–If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you.” A literal translation carries the idea of stewardship, a responsibility which God has given to man during a specific period in time.

    What I meant by my statement is that under the dispensation of the Law God revealed His purpose for His chosen race through the Mosaic Law. They were supposed to obey God, during this period of history. His purpose was to teach them about their need for a savior. Currently we are under the dispensation of Grace, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17). Often this is considered the demarcation line separating these two dispensations. As the Law was grace now is…
    There are tons of passages, many of which I have previously mentioned, which shows grace has replaced the law. What I was getting at is that under the Law there were works, under grace there is grace. By the very definition of grace, the idea that works matter at all is contradictory to God’s purpose for this age.

    –When I have more time I’ll respond to the rest–

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  91. Stewart,
    The definition of grace as found in the bible is “Unmerited favor”. As I have attempted to point out already, we don’t earn salvation, we merely are required to follow the conditions of receiving the gift. For example, if I told some one that I would give them $100.00 if they would walk with me across the street, then they would certainly have to comply with my requirement to receive the gift. They have done nothing worthy of receiving the money, it is a gift from me, but the had to follow the conditions I set forth in order to receive it.

    I have never said that we earn salvation by performing works. What I have said (and provided many passages to support) is that I must comply with God’s commands in order to receive the gift of salvation. The passages you use to support your theory of faith alone prove that faith is necessary for salvation. They do not prove faith alone is all that is needed for salvation. Not a single passage tells us that. There are passages that tell us just as plainly that other things are required for salvation. How can you ignore them or explain them away? Why is it a problem to obey God? In Romans 6 paul tells the romans that they had at one time been servants of sin, but they had OBEYED from the heart what God had told them to do. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus said that not everyone that called on the name of the Lord would be saved, but he that DOETH the will of the Father. If, by your own definition, faith is not a work, how can you then say that faith alone is all God requires of us? Why does it seem impossible to you that God could require one thing of us (faith), and not require other things of us, especially when so many NT passages tell us plainly that He does?

    I agree that “faith only” is a comforting and non-threatening doctrine, but it is a false doctrine. There is no biblical support for this. The bible plainly tells us what saves us, and nowhere does it say “faith only” is sufficient.

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  92. Stewart, thanks for explaining your previous post. I knew what “dispensation” meant, but I hadn’t caught exactly what you were referencing with it. Thanks for clearing that up.

    That said, I agree 100% with Jim’s comments above.

    In talking about the Jews, you said this: “They were supposed to obey God, during this period of history.”

    I agree with that statement, but why in the world would God not require obedience today? As Jim mentioned, Galatians tells us that the Old Law was given for our learning – why would God’s nature change b/t the Old and New Testaments?

    Plus, you have to consider all the other passages Jim just mentioned. The New Testament does in fact teach us that our obedience is important, yet the doctrines of “Faith Only” and “Eternal Security” contradict it. If we can put away all the rhetoric and concentrate solely on what the Bible teaches, the answer is clear.

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  93. I agree with you that God does not change. In support of my view, I have stated all along that the Law in the Old Testament was to teach us and the the Law showed the need for a savior because there was not way a person could follow every minutia of the Law. The Law, which the Jews tried to follow, was enacted to protect them from the pagan world around them and to keep them safe while in the wilderness. In essence that is a gracious gift.

    I know that its hard to understand, but the Law was God’s grace to His chosen people. The Law is now perfectly completed in Christ. Hence the Law is not required anymore. Furthermore, there are plenty of passages in the Old Testament which comment directly to the point I am trying to make, that God always looks at the heart (Ezekiel, et al). I am not attempting fancy rhetoric then when I state that it is solely by His grace anyone has ever been saved.

    I believe that is point of Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved…” the focal point of which is faith in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and return of the Messiah.

    Which is why Jesus said to the woman who anointed Jesus with the fragrant oil in Luke 7:44-50, “your sins are forgiven” & “your faith has saved you.” Remember she did not do a single work to receive this gift, she just believed in Him as her savior and showed it through worship.

    Jim, you have taken Matthew 7:21 completely out of context:
    First of all, the issue Jesus is confronting false teachers, not what saves you. The whole passage begins with verse 13, where Jesus is teaching His disciples about the two ways to live… one leads to heaven the other hell. He continues further noting that false teachers/prophets will come to lead them astray. Notice verse 20, “Therefore by their fruits your will know them.” Wait a minute, that’s what James was talking about!! James 2 correlates perfectly with what Jesus just stated… (I’ll get back to that in a second). So now that we know Jesus is talking about false prophets, we see the proper context of verse 21, Jesus is not saying that it is a bad thing to say to him “Lord, Lord,” but that it is insufficient. He has just made emphatically the point that a person’s deeds show what the person is, and he is now saying that words are not the significant thing. It is easy for anyone to profess loyalty, but to practice it is quite another thing. Says stands in contrast to does; words are not enough. A profession of faith in Christ means nothing unless the person’s life reflects this profession. Hence James and Jesus are in agreement that the deeds of a person show salvation, but the deeds of a person are by no means a requirement of salvation. Neither text says that.

    Faith and deeds/works are distinct elements relating to salvation… One is the requirement, the other proof. And that is what Jesus and James are saying. In fact Jesus is specifically going after the person who standing in judgment defends himself in claiming the good deeds he has done in Jesus name. The response Jesus gives is “I never knew you.” This is not about loss of salvation, these people never had it to begin with.

    Lastly, I do believe obedience is important. In fact, the first step one takes in an obedient life is placing faith in Christ.

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  94. I was just thinking that our issue which needs to be resolved is the meaning of justification in James 2, especially in comparison with Paul’s use of this concept. It is here that Paul and James seem most at odds with each other, since parallel verses can be found that appear to say exactly opposite things.

    So please follow me here:

    “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of Law” (Romans 3:28). “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” (Romans 4:2). “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (James 2:21). “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

    Even though these verses seem difficult to reconcile, the foundation for a proper understanding has already been laid in the earlier discussion of faith and works. The distinction of pre-conversion works versus post-conversion works is significant in this regard, and this suggests other differences between the two writers. Writing in forensic terms, Paul denied that works can have any merit in God’s initial act of declaring a sinner righteous. Such justification is completely a gift of His grace apart from works for all who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20–26). James spoke of works being done as the fruit of faith by those whose initial justification is already accomplished. This is seen in the double reference to Abraham’s justification in James 2:21, 23. He was justified by works when he offered up Isaac (v. 21), but this was the fulfillment of the truth that Abraham had already believed God and his faith was reckoned as righteousness (v. 23). But the nature of this justification must be clarified further.

    One way to interpret the justification of James 2 is to read it as final justification, “God’s ultimate declaration of a person’s righteousness” which occurs at the future judgment. This perhaps alludes to Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 12:36–37), “I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it on the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” In the judgment God will confirm the righteousness attained by His people, who were justified initially and sanctified by His grace. This interpretation suits the general statement in verse 24 quite well, but it does not fit the descriptions of Abraham and Rahab, who “were justified” in a particular historical situation. This can hardly be read as final judgment, and James said nothing to connect it explicitly with final justification.

    The better way then to understand justification in this passage is to see it as the demonstration of a righteous standing before God. The verb dikaioō is sometimes used in the sense of “vindicate, show to be righteous” (e.g., Romans 3:4; 1 Timothy 3:16). In this sense Abraham’s obedience and Rahab’s hospitality demonstrated their righteousness for anyone to see. This fits better with these historical illustrations. It also suits the general statement of James 2:24.

    A person’s righteous standing cannot be seen only from his or her faith, but is shown by one’s acts of love and obedience, which others may witness. This interpretation also reinforces the theme of demonstrating the genuineness of faith, which runs through 2:14–26.

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  95. Stewart,
    There are many things to respond to, and I will do so in a couple of days, but let me say one thing quickly.

    I recognize that the context of Matthew 7:21 is talking about false teachers primarily, as Jesus is addressing those who seemed to believe that almost everyone would be saved, whaen in reality only a few would be (verses 13-14). When He gets to verse 21, He is saying that those who think you can be saved without obedience to God’s commands are teaching false doctrine. Sound familiar? John 6:29 Jesus says faith is a work. If works have no bearing on our salvation, then neither does faith, because it is a work. Also, as you have pointed out, we are saved by God’s grace, so whether I believe or not, it doesn’t matter, because God will save us all anyway. I know this last statement contradicts what God has told us, but it is the logical result of your arguments.

    No matter how you try to explain your view, you cannot escape the fact that the New Testament plainly tells us what saves us. These passages have been given to you repeatedly in this discussion. Rather than accept what they plainly say, you are coming up with convoluted reasoning and twisting what is said to fit your belief. It is through God’s grace we are saved. Faith is necessary for salvation. Repentance of sin is necessary for salvation. Confession that Christ is the son of God is necessary for salvation. Baptism is necessary for salvation. The New Testament plainly states this. How then can you state that faith only saves? You have yet to show one passage that plainly says this. The false teachers Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7 obviously had the same idea you have, that works(obedience to God’s commands) are not necessary. Doing God’s will leads to salvation.

    There obviously were those in Rome who wanted to hold to the old testament. Paul tells them in the early part of Romans that there is not salvation in the old law, that the new law that Christ died to establish is based on faith. He is not saying faith only, but he is saying that they could not keep the works of the old law and receive salvation. As you go through the book of Romans, you find that the idea of faith is expanded to include baptism (chapter 6), confession (chapter 10), and obedience in general. He never gives an indication that faith only saves us, so we don’t have to worry about doing anything else if we don’t want to.

    I fail to see the logic in saying that God expects me to have faith and it is a requirement of salvation, but the other commands He gives us are optional. Either God requires me to obey Him or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t require it, then faith is not required either. If faith is required, so are the other commands. They go hand in hand. This is the point James is making.

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  96. Also, I think you are misunderstanding me when I state faith is the sole requirement for I completely acknowledge that repentance and confession and faith all play a role in salvation (not baptism or works); they are so closely related that talking about one apart from another is impossible. I recently ran across this quote that states this better then I could:

    “The individual’s responsibility, which is always portrayed as preceding baptism, involves repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord.” Did you catch that? Salvation takes place prior to baptism and any good work.

    The author continues, “The interrelatedness of this single, three-fold, response to the gospel message is such that often only one of these components of the individual’s responsibility may be described in a particular account. Yet repentance always assumes the presence of faith and confession; faith always assumes repentance and confession; and confession always assumes repentance and faith. The intimate relationship of these three components are not understood in Acts as separate and isolated responses to the gospel but integrated parts of ‘the’ needed human response for becoming a Christian” (Believer’s Baptism, “Baptism in Luke-Acts” by Robert H. Stein, p. 64).

    In other words, when I say salvation comes from faith alone, I completely acknowledge (as I have stated in prior posts) that repentance and confession are part of faith. I am by no means neglecting these aspects… for me they all fall under faith, for you cannot have faith without repenting and confessing your sins; they are mutually inclusive. Just as the NT writers use these words interchangeably in discussing the human response to the gospel message, I do. Therefore, what I am stating is that a correct response to the gospel saves. I am calling that response faith because that is the primary word used throughout the entire NT to describe that response. Hence salvation comes though faith (a humans response to God’s truth spoken in Scriptures) alone, which is realized through God’s gracious gift given to all in the form of His Son Christ Jesus.

    A claim to salvation means nothing (Matthew 7, James 2). Salvation is proven though our good works, hence the notion that works completely perfect faith. Neither passage states works are required only that they prove faith.

    And I have showed plenty of scripture which holds to the view that salvation comes by faith alone. And Ephesians 2:9 does say “not of works lest you might boast.” This further pushes the idea that James must be talking about proving faith through works, not a requirement of salvation.

    Lastly, Romans is all about the fact that faith alone saves. The topic sentence of the book states it as such: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” In fact Paul doesn’t stop there he continues, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). Yes, Paul does bring in baptism in chapter 6, but notice that he is confronting their behavior and the constant war which is going on in their members. He is not coupling salvation with baptism, he is stating that the world sees you as a new creation because of your baptism and therefore you better start acting like it.

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  97. Stewart, you quoted an author on his views of what part (if any) baptism plays in salvation. I’d like to take some time and quote what the bible says about it. I kinda trust it over folks I don’t know.

    Romans 6: 3-8
    Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

    Ok, a set of question and direct answers from God’s Word:

    What are we baptized into? Christ Jesus and His death. (vs 3)
    Therefore how were we buried with Him? Through baptism into death (vs4) and likewise we are raised into a newness of life by the Father through this baptism.
    Look at verse 5, ‘for if we have been united together in the likeness of His death (we just saw this is done through baptism) then certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” The body of sin is done away with through baptism (this death figure mentioned in verse 3 &4) that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Take a strong look at verse 8 Now if we died with Christ, (which in verses 3& 4 it says we do through baptism, not anything else), then we believe that we shall also live with Him.

    Acts 22: 6-16
    Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
    9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid,[a] but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
    12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

    There is a very subtle truth hidden in these verses that I had looked over in the past. Saul comes face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. He realizes all that he has done has been so very wrong. He is told that he is to go into a city and wait to be told what he must do. For three days Paul fasts and prays (Acts 9). He meets Jesus face to face, obviously he believes that He is the Christ. For three days he fasts and prays blind. I’m sure he was begging for forgiveness for all the horrible things he had done as a persecutor of the Church. So here he is, he has faith, I’m sure he’s asked for forgiveness, yet what do Ananias tell him he must do? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ Don’t you see, he still had sin! And the only way to wash that sin away was to be baptized.

    Titus 3:4-5
    But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

    How does God save us? Through the washing of regeneration, regeneration means new life. Doesn’t Romans 6 paint a picture of us dying to an old life and being buried through baptism to be raised into a new life? Doesn’t this washing insinuate baptism?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Again here is another verse that talks of this washing away of sin. The same way Paul was told to “Arise, and be baptized and wash away your sins” Very similar to the way Peter instructed to the people to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness)of sins”

    I know everyone is probably thinking that it would be great if the bible just said that baptism saves you. That would be a simple command that we could follow right? Well it does.

    1 Pet 3:20b-21
    in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype, which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    That’s right baptism saves us. Not by some special washing of your body, not by some work we do, but by us doing what God has told us to, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism isn’t a work we do, really someone else is baptizing you. You chose to believe in Christ, You chose to confess Him, You repent of your sin, which requires a turning around of your life, and You can chose to be baptized. All these things have to fit together or we might as well throw the bible out. The same verbage that is used to say faith, repentance, and confesion saves us is used to say that baptism saves us as well. Why do you want to accept some of the bible and not all of it?

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  98. Matt, I am not accepting only part of the Bible.
    The Holy Spirit seals us at the point of salvation… this is called Spiritual Baptism.
    “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in out hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
    “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, your were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13).
    Both of these verses speak of the Spirit sealing us and neither mention water baptism. It is very clear in these texts that sealing occurs at the point of conversion when believers receive the Spirit. Furthermore, there is no reference to water baptism in either text.

    Additionally, in Romans 4:11 Paul states Abraham’s seal of righteousness was circumcision. However he takes this one step further and is actually saying that circumcision was not required for salvation… take all of Romans 4:9-12 into account… because Abraham believed and was right with God (Genesis 15:6) before he was circumcised (Genesis 17). The seal of Abraham only ratified, or authenticated the faith and righteousness he already had.

    The exact same is true today, water baptism authenticates faith. It expresses to the world that this person is now God’s. Hence the term believer’s baptism. Only believer’s are to be baptized. If faith is the first step of obedience, I would claim baptism is the second.

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  99. But Stewart,

    What about the verses that list only repentance leading to salvation,
    Acts 3:19
    Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

    2 Cor 7:10
    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

    or the ones that only mention confession

    1 John 1:9
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

    Romans 10:9-10
    9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    ok that one does mention two seperate things, but both are equally tied in to salvation in that verse, you believe unto righteousness and your confession leads to salvation.

    How can you ignore pauls writting in Romans 6 where he tells us that baptism is how we are burried in christ death and raised in His resurection to a hope of salvation. Or my comments on acts chapter 22 where after having faith and confession Saul still had sin needing to be washed away.

    There are many verses in the NT that only mention one thing leading to salvation, they say nothing else of the others. Unless we are to view the bible as contridicting itself we must take them all into account and put them together.

    If salvation is our desired destination we will have to start on the road of faith, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have to go through the fields of confession, take the path of repentance and cross over the bridge of baptism to get there. They are all marks on God’s roadmap he left us in the bible. Faith is what starts us down that way, but unless we follow God’s directions we will never get where we want to go.

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  100. I have already addressed the issue of repentance and confession in another post; they are mutually inclusive with faith.

    As for Romans 6, it is all symbolic. “Just as” (v. 4) is a key phrase to comparing something with something else… Paul is using symbolism to express a truth. In this case he is comparing the rite of water baptism with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is a symbolic act declaring to the world that a person is committed to following Christ.

    Please read Acts 22:16 very carefully for you are drawing a concussion the text does not lead you to, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” This verse is comprised of three clauses “arise and be baptized” is a separate clause from “wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.” If you understand Greek go over to http://opentext.org/texts/NT/Acts/view/clause-ch22.v16.html and you’ll see what I’m talking about. My point is, calling of God’s name is connected to washing away sins not baptism. Baptism and faith are exclusive of each other, one is a public confession the other an inward confession.

    Furthermore, I don’t believe the Bible teaches a progressive view of salvation. Salvation is a singular point in a person’s life which has eternal consequences in both directions (Romans 8:28-30).

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  101. I’m honestly been thinking though what you all have been writing, and I have a question that will hopefully allow me to understand you position better.

    I assume you would all agree that a person must be righteous to enter into heaven, correct? It goes to say then that this same person must also be justified, with me so far?

    My question therefore is by what process are we justified and made righteous?

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  102. Stewart,
    Bear with me please. I will answer your question about justification, but let me adderss an earlier post more fully first. Please excuse the typos, as I suffer from “fat finger disease”, and am not very proficient with a computer.

    First of all, let me try to explain what I perceive to be a difference in views on works. When you say works, I believe you are thinking about anything we would consider a good work. I am not talking about that. I agree that we do not earn salvation. God doesn’t look at us and determine if He will save us if we have done enough good works to earn our way to heaven. When I am talking about works, I am talking about the doing of those things God has given us to do as a condition of salvation. Just as you believe that repentance and confession are required for salvation(which I also believe) in addition to faith, I also belive that God has required baptism for salvation. I do not believe that the bible teaches that faith and repentance and confession are all the same thing, but it does teach that they are all required, so I would say that you don’t really belive “faith alone” is all that God requires of us for salvation. Having said this, allow me to go on to prove that baptism is also required.

    The book of romans does not teach faith alone. Notice in Romans 1:5 Paul says”… received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith…” which tells us at the very beginning that faith must include obedience, which is obviously not alone if obedience must be included with it. In verse 8 he comments onthe fact that their faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. How would anyone have known about their faith if there hadn’t been some action to demonstrate it? Faith had to be seen by their works of obedience. Therefore, there is a clear inference early in the book that “faith alone” is not what is being discussed.

    Allow me to digress for a moment, and I will return to Romans shortley. Lets look at some of the examples of conversion in Acts. In Acts 2:37 it is obvious that those present recognize and believe that they have put to death the son of God. It is also obvious that even though they now believe that Jesus is the son of God, they recognize the need to do something in addition to their faith. They have evidenced their faith by asking the question of Peter “what must we do?”. In verse 38 Peter tells them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Obviously, even though they had faith, they do not have remission of sins unless they repent and are baptized. What an opportunity Peter missed here in not telling them that their sins had been forgiven already because they had faith. I hate to keep using the term “obviously”, but obviously faith alone was not sufficient.

    In Acts 3:19 the peolpe are told to repent ans be converted that their sins might be blotted out. They obviously already had faith, but they still needed to do something to have their sins blotted out.

    In Acts 8:11-12 Simon hears whar Phillip preaches, believes, and is baptized. How would he have known to do that unless Phillip had preached it to him? Why would he have done it if it was not necessary?

    In Acts 8:35-40 Phillip preaches to the Ethiopian Eunuch. The eunuch recognized the need for baptism after Phillip preaches to him, and Phillip asks him if he believes. He does, confesses Christ as the son of God, and is baptized.

    In Acts 9:1-18 Saul recognizes that it is Jesus, whom he has persecuted, who is talking to him. He is instructed to go to Damascus where he will be told what he must do. In Acts 22:16, as Paul retells this event, he says that Annanias told him to repent and be baptized and wash away his sins. Obviously, baptism has something to do with removing sin.

    In Acts 10 Crnrlius is commanded to br baptized.

    In Acts 16:25-33 the Phillipian jailor in the same hour of the night is baptized after being taught by Paul. Why the haste? Obviously he understood that it was something necessary for him to do.

    All of these examples of conversion include more than faith, and I believe the pattern is clear that these folks all understood baptism to be a part of the plan of salvation. As a matter of fact, I peter 3:21 tells us explicitly that baptism saves. It doesn’t get much plainer than that.

    How, then, can i belive that faith alone saves? Of course you seem to have modified your original stance to include repentance and confession. I would submit that repentance and confession are works which we must do to receive salvation. I know faith is involved in all of this, but that is not the same as faith alone. It is faith, repentance, and confession. Three separate things which are related in that we must have sufficient faith to be motivated to do them, but more than faith alone. I believe that baptism is also commanded, and I believe that those conversions in Acts include it. The evedence appears to me to be logical, overwhelming and conclusive in support of the fact that baptism is commanded by God and we must be baptized in order to obtain salvation.

    Now, allow me to go back to romans.Specifically, lets look carefully at chapter 6. Verses 3-8 speak specifically to the idea of baptism. Verse 4 tells us we must walk in newness of life. There is no newness of life until the old man of sin has been buried with Christ through baptism, and we are raised from that watery grave as a new creature. A similar passage in Galations 3:27 tells us we put on Christ through baptism.

    Colosians 2:11-13 compares baptism to circumcision. I am sure you are aware that circumcision was the part of the covenant the Jews were to keep in the old law. Baptism, in the new testament, is a similar thing. By it we symbolically shed the old man of sin and are regenerated. We are buried with Christ in baptism, and are raised through the faith in the operation of God. Just getting wet doesn’t save us, but must be coupled with faith that God will forgive us of our sins when we complete His commands by having faith in God and His dear Son, repent of our sins, confess Christ as the son of God, and are baptized in obedience to God’s command. All these things fit together logically.

    You have mentioned the faith of Abraham. Yes, he was justified by faith, not by works of the old law or works of his own righteousness. However, his faith had to be of suffiecient magnitude that he rendered obedience to god’s commands.(Hebrews 11:8). All of these characters of faith in Hebrews 11 DID simething. Faith alone was not sufficient. Obrdience is brought about by faith, but faith without doing what God has commanded is a dead faith. This is what James is saying in chapter 2.

    Also, when the book of Romans refers to works in the first few chapters, it is referring to the works of the old law, which did not bring salvation. It was only through obrdience to the gospel of
    christ that salvation could be obtained.

    Now, you asked the question about what justifies us. This is an easy question. Matthew 12:37 says we are justified by our words. Romans 3:24 says we are justified by grace through the redemption that is IN Christ (Galations 3:27 says we are in Christ through baptism). Romans 5:1-5 tells us we are justified by the blood of Christ. Romans 8:30 tells us that those who are called are justified. Galations 2:17 tells us we are justified by Christ. Galations 3:24 tells us we are justified by faith. Titus 3:7 tells us we are justified by grace. James 2:24 tells us that works justify, and not faith only.

    The sum of all this is that we are justified by god’s grace when we obeyed in faith what He has told us to do.

    Honestly Stewart, you cannot avoid the fact that God has commanded that we are to have faith, we are to repent, we are to confess, and we are to be baptized. This is not some requirement made up by man, but it is plainly stated in God’s word. Remember, Romans 3:4 tells us “let God be true, but every man a liar”. I’m just trying to relate to you what is plainly stated in the New Testament.

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  103. Jim,
    Thanks for the extended response, it was very insightful.

    Also, thanks for explaining what you hold ‘works’ to be (for that was my next question). I do not see faith, confession, or repentance as a work. I believe that there is a difference between what we as humans do, and how we as humans respond. Faith, confession, and repentance are responses to the good news of Christ resurrected; they are selfless by their very nature.

    You mentioned that my claim to faith alone has changed… not really. Look back over the posts fairly early on (once people started mentioning confession and repentance) I explained how that all fits together (starts around #25).

    Would you agree that confession cannot happen apart from faith?
    How about repentance apart from confession?

    I’m not trying to create a circular argument, but the fact of the mater is you can not have faith without the other two. When I say faith alone saves, repentance and confession are implied; they have to be… the NT writers even used the words that way.

    Romans 1:5… yes faith must include obedience, but don’t forget obedience also includes faith. These two aspects should not be equated, compartmentalized, or broken up into separate stages of our walk with God. For to obey Christ we as believers must present ourselves in faith; in the same way, to have unwavering faith in Christ we must obey, the terms mutually interpret each other. Lastly, when properly understood, the notion of bringing “obedience of faith” to all nations if focusing on the change that occurs in a saved individual due to placing one’s faith in Christ. This verse is Paul’s missionary focus to the world.

    Ok, do you see why I would not call faith a work?
    For me, when James mentions works… I believe he is referring to the fruits of the Spirit; i.e. proof of one’s salvation. Person A claims salvation, person B proves it by their works (the manifestation of the Spirit working in their lives).
    Your thoughts?

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  104. Saying ‘faith alone’ is all that is required and then stating ‘faith alone includes repentance and confession’ is illogical at best.

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  105. ? really…

    Can you have repentance without faith… no, for why would you repent if you didn’t believe you needed to.

    Can you have true confession of your sins without faith… no, for there would be no reason to confess unless you trust the one you are confessing to.

    True faith does include confessing yours sins, and repenting of your sins. When I say ‘a person has faith in Christ’ that should automatically signal to you that a particular person has confessed and repented of his sins.

    Nothing illogical there 🙂

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  106. Stewart,
    I understand what you are saying, and I agree that faith is involved in all of it. However, they are not the same. I could lie and say that I believe Jesus is the son of God, and there would be neither repentance nor faith in that. That is why I say that faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are separate things. I believe the bible often deals with these things separately. Also, even though you may not consider faith, repentance, and confession works, the bible speaks of them as works. John 6:29 calls faith a work. James 2 seems to include evrything other than faith a work. The point is, If God requires it of us, then we must obey, which means we have to do something.

    I think our difference on viewing what is a work is subtle, but it is very important none the less. If God tells me something or some action on my part is required for salvation, then it doesn’t really matter what we call it as much as it matters that we do it. We only know what saves based on what God has told us. He has separately named faith, repentance, confession, and baptism as requirements for us to meet to receive salvation.

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  107. Ok, Yes John 6:29 says faith is a work, but not a work we do… see my point? God has placed faith in us. That means its not something we do, faith is a work of God not of man. Placing my faith in something is a selfless act of trust; not something I choose to do, but that which I allow.

    Where in the bible do you ever see faith separate from repentance? Or faith separate from confession? When they are not mentioned they are most definitely implied. Additionally, when they are mentioned together in a passage that just shows how connected to one another they really are.

    In the realm of theology, yes we could separate them and discuss them individually… but seriously, can you really discuss one without the others?

    As for baptism I’m choosing to leave it out of the discussion until we arrive at an understanding of what a ‘work’ actually is. Because baptism is something we do, it is a work (which I think we would both agree on).

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  108. Ok, I’ve been really busy lately, and have only just read through these last posts.

    In response to Stewart’s assertion that we are saved by faith alone because faith motivates confession, repentance, etc:

    My car won’t run without gas. Nevertheless, I would be in error if I decided to use the word “gas” to refer to my entire car.

    Remember, in mathematics, the whole is equal to the sum of its parts; the whole is not equal to one part. The Bible makes a distinction between faith, repentance, and confession; therefore, so must we. I happen to agree with you that the other things are worthless if we don’t have faith – and I even agree with your point that no one would do the other elements if they didn’t have faith. But that doesn’t make them synonymous.

    And even if you could sum them all up into “faith,” why do you stop there? Why not include baptism. Surely you can’t deny that the Bible does speak of it as though it saves (we’ve listed quite a number of passages that say that). So why not include it in your list? I think baptism qualifies as “responsive” and “selfless,” as you mentioned in comment 110.

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  109. In reply to your last post, why would we need to separate faith from repentance? Or confession? Or even baptism? The point of the Bible is to get us to put them together. As you have said, confession w/out faith is useless. Repentance w/out faith is useless. And as James has pointed out, faith w/out obedience is also useless.

    The point of our discussion should not be to separate these things, because alone, they do nothing. But when we put them all together (including baptism), then we get the whole “salvation package” that God has offered us. Each one hinges upon the others.

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  110. Finally, I’d also like to reply to the posts around # 107. There, you and Matt were discussing Acts 22:16, and you offered the Greek for it. Well, I don’t know Greek; although, I can get my hands on an interlinear Bible, and will do so soon to recheck this. I do know English, however (I have sort of a natural affinity for grammar, scary as that may sound…). And I’d like to explain a little about the grammar used in this passage. The NKJV says it this way:

    16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

    Here, Paul is told to do 3 things: Arise, be baptized, and wash. That’s all he’s told to do; those are the only verbs used in that command. The word “calling” is a verb form, but it’s not used as a verb. If Ananias were telling him to do something, he would have used the infinitive form, like he did with “arise, be baptized and wash.” Instead, “calling” has an “-ing” at the end of it, and that’s important.

    This is an example of a participle, or maybe a gerund, which can be used as an adjective or a noun. In this case, “calling” describes what Paul is doing. Something in the actions Ananias commands can apparently be described as “calling on the name of the Lord.”

    Now, saying that “calling on the name of the Lord” was how Paul would wash away his sins doesn’t make sense. After all, Ananias never told Paul to “call on the name of the Lord.” What he told Paul to do was “arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins.”

    Personally, considering its symbolic nature, I’d say baptism is what Paul was being told would wash away his sins. We’re told in several passages that the remission (or removal/forgiveness) of sins is acheived in baptism. It seems pretty obvious to me that baptism is what washes away sins and, through this, we “call on the name of the Lord.”

    That’s a lot more complicated than I like to get, but I think it’s an important point to understand. You probably disagree with the conclusion I come to on it, and that’s fine. But either way, I am absolutely certain that “calling” is not what’s being commanded here. It can’t be because of the “-ing” at the end.

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  111. Stewart,
    If faith is not something we do, then who does it? Why does God tell us to have faith if we don’t have a choice? John 6 tell us faith is a work that is required by God. Hebrews 11 tells us that without it we can’t please God. Now, I agree, faith is a mental work that leads to physical work, but it is still something God requires of us.

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  112. Nate, you stated:
    Now, saying that “calling on the name of the Lord” was how Paul would wash away his sins doesn’t make sense. After all, Ananias never told Paul to “call on the name of the Lord.” What he told Paul to do was “arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins.”

    Actually yes it does make sense, for we are washed in the blood of Christ. You also forgot the word ‘and’… “arise and be baptized” is a clause … and … “wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” is the second clause. You are correct that the subject verb is not ‘calling’ it is ‘rise up.’ However note one more thing about the word ‘calling’; this word epikalesamenos literally means “calling for an appeal to one higher than you for help.” Additionally the verb is in the Aorist tense, a one time in the past ‘snap shot’ event. Therefore, the calling is referring to something that has already happened. In other words the text literally reads: “Since you have called upon the name of the Lord who has washed away your sins, now rise up and be baptized.” So you are right, that ‘calling on Christ’ is not what is being commanded… that has already happened in the past.

    Jim, good question.
    Yes, God does require us to have faith. However, it is God who grants us faith. Once again John 6:29 tells us that faith comes from God, it is a work He does in us. Romans 3:10-12 tells us that no one seeks God, no one chooses Him. Faith is not something we choose to have. Remember we are chosen by God, we don’t choose God; Romans makes that clear.

    I realize there is a tension here between human free will and God’s irresistible grace. I honestly believe we must leave finding an answer to that tension up to God. The Bible gives us just enough for me to realize that however that works it is beyond my understanding.

    Do you see what I’m getting at though? Faith can not be considered a human work at all. Faith is a divine work of the Lord… “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Furthermore, he is continuously perfecting that which He has begun (Phil 1:6). Faith comes from God. Confused? Think about it this way, God chose us… without that choosing we could not have faith in Him. Its not a circular argument either because everything is rooted in the Creator.

    Which I believe leads us to Baptism.
    Question: Since you hold to baptism as being a requirement of salvation, can you please explain why baptism is necessary for entrance into heaven?

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  113. Stewart,
    You make it sound as if I have no choice in whether I am saved or not. There is no evidence to suggest that God expects nothing of me. Romans 12:1 tells us we are to present ourselves as a “lining sacrifice” which is our “reasonable service”. Why? If God saves me without me doing anything, then why have a bible at all? God will choose to save me or not, and there is nothing I can do about it.

    Obviously, I cannot believe this in light of what the bible says. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Our faith comes from considering the evidence presented in God’s word. Faith based on anything else is not the biblical faith that is required. I am surprised you would make this argument, for it contradicts so much that we read in the New Testament.

    You ask “Why is baptism necessary for entrance into heaven?” The short answer would be that God commands it. Probably the best answer is Romans 6. Additionally, how can we enter heaven without being saved? it is only logical that what we must do for salvation is the same as we must do to enter heaven.

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  114. I’m not saying we have no choice, because we do. What I am saying is faith begins with God, specifically the Holy Spirit pressuring us. It’s when we allow him into our lives as a mark of faith / a step of obedience that salvation occurs. We don’t choose God, He chooses us; its whether or not we allow Him into our lives that shows faith/trust/belief in Him. This is why I start with faith… and yes faith does come by hearing, etc. yet without the Holy Spirit working within a person, all the hearing in the world will amount to nothing.

    On baptism, I agree that we cannot enter into heaven without being saved. But Romans 6 does not reference baptism as a requirement of salvation. Paul is using their public baptism as smack in their face as to why they should quit allowing repetitive sin into their lives. Simply they are now a new creation and the community knows this because they were baptized… so stop taking the grace of God in vain and start living contrary to the world.

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  115. First of all, I disagree with your breakdown of Acts 22:16. In the English versions, it’s plain to see that “calling on the name of the Lord” is the description of what Paul would be doing by arising, being baptized, and washing away his sins. Those things don’t come about because he’s already called on the name of the Lord, but by doing the things Ananias commanded him, he would, in effect, be “calling on the name of the Lord.”

    I don’t know much about the Aorist tense, so I’m going to research it more before I comment further on this issue. However, what I have found about it points out that the Aorist tense can be used in several different ways, so your description of it being “a one time in the past ’snap shot’ event” may be a little presumptious. It could mean other things.

    Anyway, I also wanted to comment on your last response.

    According to your first paragraph, it sounds like we pretty much believe the same thing. You think that God is appealing to us to answer his invitation, but that salvation still requires a response from us. So really, bringing up the “faith is of God” argument is fairly moot – we still both believe that faith is up to us as well.

    And on baptism, how can you say Romans 6 doesn’t reference salvation? It states that we put to death our “old man” through baptism, and when we rise from the waters, we rise to walk in newness of life (and of course, it’s heavily compared to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection).

    Other passages also tell us that baptism removes our sin. Therefore, how could it not reference salvation? That’s been our point all along! If sin is what separates us from God, and baptism removes it, then baptism is obviously part of the salvation process! I don’t need to worry about whether that constitutes a “work” or not. The simple fact is, God has commanded we do it (you even admit that), and the Bible shows that it washes away our sin. The conclusion should be clear!

    I would also like to point out that the one thing Romans 6 doesn’t point out, even obliquely, is how people shouldn’t be sinning because their baptism was so public. If the whole point of baptism is to publicly show people that you’ve already been saved, why was Paul only baptized in front of Ananias? Why was the Ethiopian eunuch only baptized in front of Phillip (at least, it doesn’t seem like anyone else is around…). If these accounts of conversion were relatively private, what was the point of baptism? Why not either skip it all together, or wait until it could be performed in front of a larger crowd?

    Numerous passages tell us that baptism’s purpose is in cleansing us of our sin (very reminiscent of Naaman’s washing in the Jordan); I don’t know of a single one that states the real importance of baptism is in making a public confession of your salvation. I thought that our verbal confession already did something like that…

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  116. Sorry its taken me so long to respond, this week has been busy.

    Um concerning Acts 22:16, yes the aorist tense has multiple usages. Any use, still leads you to the conclusion that the ‘calling’ is an even which has already happened prior to the rest of the clauses. Furthermore, ‘washed’ is also in the aorist tense… which means that prior to baptism he was saved.

    Romans 6, very difficult passage. Most scholars hold that Paul is referring to Spiritual baptism and not physical… and if you go that route, you points become moot. However, I hold to water baptism in this passage as you do. You are right that a public viewing of their baptism is not mentioned, yet it was public. Even in the case of Philip and the Ethiopian, his conversion was public knowledge… we have it recorded for us. Think about it this way, today when a person gets saved word spreads to others (even if they do not know him) and God is glorified through this news. Same is true when a person is baptized. Why should we think that it is any different back then? God is glorified through the good news. In fact back then I would assume this is most likely how word spread, I don’t think they had huge public baptisms (like they do in S. America) back then. My point is their baptism was public knowledge.

    Why I stated Romans 6 doesn’t connect salvation with baptism is because it doesn’t.

    Romans 6:1-4, the focus is on how we present ourselves to the word; how we walk. Yes salvation is inferred, but the focus is on our testimony being connected to baptism.

    Romans 5-11, Once again there is an inference to baptism… but the focus is still on the concept of their baptism being an example of how we are to live. Paul is not saying that baptism causes us to live a certain way, he is saying that their baptism illustrates what has been spiritually done in us. Notice verse 10 contrasted with verse 11 and you’ll see the illustration. Verse 10a – “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all…” verse 11a – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin…” the same is true for the second half of these verses: “…but the life that He lives, He lives to God” (10b); and then us, “…but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (11b). Paul uses their baptism to illustrate Christ’s death and to further explain why their baptism is an illustration of their new conduct. He doesn’t stop here though.

    Romans 6:12-14… “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body…” Christians are to presents themselves as righteous because they now are… this is all about conduct not about salvation. Salvation is already assumed to have happened and Paul is illustrating to the Roman church that their conduct matters and that they do not need to sin anymore.

    He continues further attacking a question before they can even answer it, Romans 6:15-23. Shall we sin cause we are under grace? No. And notice Paul says nothing about loosing salvation… he goes after the fact that sin slaves you to sin. The fact of the matter is, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). He is not saying that Christians don’t sin–because we do. Paul is saying that we can actually chose to live a righteous life now.

    Along the same lines I believe this is why Paul states in 1 Corinthians “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (6:12) and again in 10:23. He is saying that under Christ we can do anything, you cannot loose salvation once attained; yet, does what you are doing glorify God? If not, don’t do it. Additionally, the Corinthian church had many sinful issues going on, yet Paul refers to them as believers (see 1 Cor 1:4-9). If the most defiled church of early Christianity was still considered blameless (1:8), I think the notion of loosing salvation is moot.

    Ok lastly 1 Peter 3:18-22
    Yes, Peter is comparing saving 8 members of the human race by the flood waters with baptism. Notice exactly what he is saying:
    1) This baptism is referred to as an antitype, meaning opposite; i.e. not by water.
    2) This baptism saves through Christ’s resurrection.
    3) This baptism does not remove sin, but instead brings the person into a state of communion with God.

    The only answer is that this baptism of salvation is Spiritual in nature.. Peter is saying that as save once came to 8 individuals by the flood waters, now Christ’s resurrection has brought the offer of salvation to all through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Peter is referring to Baptism of the Spirit, not the physical water baptism.

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  117. Stewart, I’m afraid you’re simply trying as hard as you can to see only what you want to see. There are many, many passages that tell us what baptism is for, yet you refuse to see them for what they are. We’ve also listed numerous passages that teach us if we turn from God, we no longer have a hope for salvation. Again, you refuse to see it.

    I really don’t know what else to say. If your interpretation is right about Acts 22:16, then perhaps you should write a new translation of the Bible, because every English version I’ve ever read is in contrast to what you’ve said.

    The word “antitype” does not typically mean “opposite.” Just look it up. It’s usually used in making comparisons (and makes much more sense that way in 1 Pet 3:21).

    In your exegesis of Romans 6, you’ve inserted the idea that baptism has nothing to do with salvation, even though the text there doesn’t indicate that. In fact, it seems that Paul is appealing to the fact that they’ve been baptized to remind them (and prove to them) that they have in fact been saved. There’s also absolutely no grounds for your belief that turning back to sin won’t affect your saved status – the passage in Romans 5-6 certainly doesn’t make that claim. You quoted where Paul told them they are “slaves to sin” if they live a sinful life, but you somehow don’t think that has anything to do with their salvation. Where are we told that?

    The subject of Holy Spirit baptism is an interesting one, but the Bible teaches that it was never used for salvation. In Acts 1, Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would come upon them to give them the knowledge they would need now that he was leaving. It came upon them in Acts 2, and it had nothing to do with salvation – the apostles has already been saved. If you’d like to look into it further, check out this link.

    I’ll continue to answer your comments on this thread, but I feel like we’re just going round and round in circles. I hope and pray that both of us will open our eyes to God’s word and read it for what it says – not what we already think it says.

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  118. Let me ask you a question. Let’s look at Acts 2:38:

    38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Now, I know you don’t believe this passage teaches that baptism saves us, or washes away sin. But in your opinion, for it to teach that idea (that baptism is needed for salvation), what would it need to say? How should it be written to support that idea?

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  119. Stewart,
    I think you are making a mistake whaen you say Romans 6 is a very difficult passage. It seems to very plainly show us how baptism works and why it is necessary. It is only difficult if you try to make it mean something it doesn’t.

    I have one more thing for you to consider, but I can’t recall the passages right now. I will look them up and respond back soon.

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  120. Stewart,
    Ephesians 1:7 says that we have “redemption in Christ through His blood, the forgivness of sins”. He is saying here that we have to be “in” Christ to come in contact with His blood and receive the forgiveness of sin. Galations 3:27 tells us we are baptized into Christ. Therefore, to be “in” Christ we must be baptized. If there is no forgiveness of sin without being in Christ, then it necessarily follows that there is no forgiveness of sin without baptism.

    Also, notice in Romans 6:17, Paul tells the romans that they didn’t receive freedom from sin until they had obeyed from the heart what they had been taught. Now, per your earlier post, you claim that God does it all for us, and that it is not necessary for us to do anything in order to receive salvation. If your claim is true, why did Paul make this statement? If God tells us something saves us, how can we in good conscience say it doesn’t? It is a convoluted and illogical argument to say that baptism does’t affect salvation.

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  121. Nate, may I bring your attention to verse 41 of Acts 2, which explains the order that events occurred after Peter’s sermon. Notice only those who received, that is accepted the gospel were baptized. And that is the whole point I’ve been trying to make, only after faith does baptism occur. This is the Biblical modal: first faith, then baptism. Believer’s (or more precisely confessor’s) baptism occurs after salvation.

    Jim, I never stated we don’t have to do anything… what I said was faith starts with God and that faith is a response we have. There is a difference between a work that gains salvation and an unselfish response which credits us salvation.

    Baptism is not a magic rite which somehow credits us salvation. It is the expression of God’s saving work in our lives. This is precisely why it is important, not because it literally saves. But because it expresses the inner personal reality of what Christ has done for us. And Romans 6 in my opinion clearly projects that assertion, as does 1 Peter 3.

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  122. Nate, sorry I didn’t finish answering your question on Acts 2:38.

    As for what would be needed I would say nothing, because it does on the surface appear to say what you claim. So for me to see that verse for what you see it as, verse 41 would have to be removed.

    You see Acts 2:14-40 as you know is Peter’s sermon… and we could spend all year going back and forth trying to say “he means this” and “no he means that.” But 41, tells us of the order the events occurred. regardless as to why Peter said, his actions interpret what he meant by verse 38.

    So if you remove verse 41, which explain that the reception of the words matters, then I would gladly switch views. But since you can’t (cause that would be heresy) I won’t.

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  123. Stewart,
    No one is arguing the order of events, rather the point at which salvation occurs. I am asserting (and the scriptures teach) that salvation occurs when sins have been washed away. If you look at Acts 9, 22, and 26, you find that paul was told by Christ to go to Damascus where he would be told what he must do. Paul says annanias told him to be baptized and wash away his sins. If salvation occurs before sins are washed away, then Christ died for nothing.

    If I get in my car and back out of my driveway and drive to work, at what point do i get to work? At the point when I get in the car? No, I have to back out of the driveway, follow the road and travel in the proper direction to get to work. It is only then that I have arrived at work, and can then get down to the business of pleasing my employer. This is just common sense. To say that I must be baptized, but I am saved at the point of Faith makes as much sense as saying I arrived at work when I got in my car.

    It is obvious that faith has to come before repentance, confession, or baptism, but it doesn’t lessen the importance of any of these things in the plan of salvation. God has told us all these things save, so it is obvious that all these things must be taken together. Leaving any of them off would result in our being lost for eternity.

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  124. By the way Stewart,
    I didn’t mean to misrepresent you, but it has sounded to me that you ARE saying we don’t have to do anything. In post 121 you stated “…Faith begins with God, specifically the Holy Spirit pressueing us. It’s when we allow Him into our lives as a mark of faith/ a step of obedience that salvation occurs. We don’t choose God, He chooses us; it’s whether or not we allow Him into our lives that shows faith/trust/belief in Him.” In post 119 you stated “Faith cannot be considered a human work at all. Faith is a divine work of the Lord…”. If we are saved at the point of faith, and faith is not a work that we do, then we do nothing to receive salvation. God sent His Son to earth to die for us, He inspird the Apostles and writers of the New Testament, and supplied us with faith and saved us, and requires nothing of us (in your view). This view does nor follow the bible pattern. All the conversions in Acts show the people involved did something. I find nothing in the new testament that supports your view. as a matter of fact, there are many passages that plainly state we must repent, confess and be baptized to receive salvation. You choose to ignore ar explain these away. If you look at them honestly and openly you will have to arrive at the conclusion that faith only will not save us.

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  125. Stewart, I’m surprised at your argument for the verses in Acts 2. Let me repost v 41:

    41 Then those who gladly[g] received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that this somehow disproves baptism. If you notice, the passage here says that the people received his word (including the instruction he had just given them) and were baptized. Then it says that they were added. If they had been saved before baptism, don’t you think this verse would have said something like “they gladly received his word and were added to the church. And that day, about 3000 of them were baptized.”?

    Let’s think about this logically. In the preceding verses, Peter has preached to them about Jesus and has actually convinced them that they murdered the Messiah they had been waiting for. Remember, these are all Jews – their entire lives (and throughout all the previous generations) they had longed for the Deliverer that they believed would rescue them from bondage and reestablish David’s kingdom. And now Peter tells them that they killed their Savior! How terrible!

    And you see their reaction when it says they were cut to the heart and they pleaded with Peter “What shall we do?!” At this point, I think we’d all agree that their faith was evident. And these people are in anguish! So Peter says, “Don’t worry! Your faith is evident, and you have been saved! God has forgiven you this wickedness! Now, be baptized as a symbol of the cleansing God has given you!”

    But no, that’s not actually what Peter says. But don’t you think, as horrified as these people are at what they’ve done, that if they had already been saved by their faith alone, Peter would have told them that? Instead, when they ask what they need to do, Peter tells them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Stewart, it simply doesn’t get clearer than that.

    I hope you’ll go back and read that account and think very carefully about the conclusions you come to. This isn’t simply about winning an online debate – your soul depends on what you decide.

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  126. Stewart,

    You wrote:

    “Baptism is not a magic rite which somehow credits us salvation. It is the expression of God’s saving work in our lives. This is precisely why it is important, not because it literally saves. But because it expresses the inner personal reality of what Christ has done for us. And Romans 6 in my opinion clearly projects that assertion, as does 1 Peter 3.”

    I’m sure you believe our salvation is only through Christ’s Death Burrial and Ressurection. Why then do you ignore a plain passage that tells us it is through baptism that we contact that Death Burrial and Resurection? Also 1 Pet 3:21 that plainly tells us it is baptism that saves us. As you said not some magic that we or someone else does, but just obeying God. He chose baptism not us, its up to us to simply follow his word. I really pray that you start to take the scriptures for soley what they say, and not what someone else explains them away as. Don’t you see you have to continually come back and give explainination on why the bible doesn’t say what it reallys says to support your side of the argument. Please step back for a second and realize you are basicallying staiting:

    I know that 1 Pet 3:21 says baptism saves you, but it really doesn’t.

    I know that Romans 6 says it is through baptism we contact christ’s D,B&R, but thats not really how we do it.

    Acts 2:38 says repent and be baptized for forgivness of sins, but thats really not how its done.

    I could go on and on, but please just let the bible talk, thats how God wants it.

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  127. Ok, lots to respond to:
    First Jim,
    I know you are not arguing the order of events but they do matter. We all agree that baptism does not confer faith and that faith must come prior to baptism. What I am positioning is that salvation comes at the point of faith not baptism. Which is why the order very much matters. For instance if you were baptized first and then found faith (regardless to the time frame) that baptism is meaning less. The thief on the cross of instance, even if he was baptized prior to his crucification that baptism means nothing. Yet Jesus told him that he would go to heaven purely on faith. Which is why Nate, that verse 41 is such a key verse for me. Only those who received Peter’s gospel message were baptized. Not everyone who was there was baptized, only the believers. Hence the order: 1) repent; and then 2) be baptized.

    As for the other aspect you mentioned, I think we have to create a dichotomy between a work and a response. Because there are clear passages which tell us that there is nothing we do to gain salvation. For this reason I claim faith is a response and not a work. Also for that reason (and Matt I hope this explains certain things) I see baptism as a work. Why? Because we actually go through a rite. And since baptism is a work and nothing we do credits us for righteousness… salvation must occur at the point of faith. That is my logic and that follows scripture. Therefore, you now can see why I hold to what I do.

    All of the sacraments teach that one must first have faith before you may take part in said sacrament (Acts 2:38-41; Colossians 2:11-12; and 1 Corinthians 11:23-29). This is by baptism,, by its nature of being a sacrament, provides confidence of our standing before God. It does not provide standing.

    Nate you stated, “I hope you’ll go back and read that account and think very carefully about the conclusions you come to. This isn’t simply about winning an online debate – your soul depends on what you decide.”

    Wow that is harsh… The willful rejection of baptism after learning that one is now supposed to take that step of obedience is an unconscionable act for anyone how claims to follow Christ Jesus, for it smacks the authority of the gospel in the face. The same is true of anyone who regards baptism as the effectual act of salvation, for they lack faith in the only one who can save. I am not focusing on “winning an online debate.” While I wouldn’t go as far as you just did claiming my soul is on the line… I do understand the significance of our discussion.

    Matt, 1 Peter 3:21. First of all, the flood was not an ordeal of water for Noah… it was a test. God was judging the world. Peter, in calling the flood baptism was illustrating that as Noah was saved from the flood waters Christians are saved from God’s wrath. But baptism isn’t a test and that’s another indication that Peter is using baptism as an illustration. Because there isn’t a 1 to 1 comparison here. The flood was a test of Noah’s obedience, baptism is not a test of obedience it is proof of obedience. Big difference. I know you think I’m splitting hairs here but it matters. Baptism represents the cleansing of sin, not the actual removal…

    Ok, Specifically on the “Baptism now saves you” statement.
    First of all 1 Peter 3:18-22 must be seen in its larger context. Peter’s comments on Noah are an excursus within a larger discussion on suffering. We see that Noah’s family of eight were waved through water as Christians were saved through the water of baptism. Notice that Peter has set up an analogical relationship between the family of Noah and Christians… he links the nouns “through water” with “baptism” and then links the verbs “they were saved” with “baptism saves”… you see at this point your argument makes the most sense… except Peter says more. The parenthetical explains everything. He creates a negation… “not the removal of the filth of the flesh” There is no allowance for anyone to suppose that water effects salvation, for it does not remove the filth from the body; the Greek word sarx is referring to the physical flesh on the body. And Second Peter continues explaining that baptism is a cleansing ritual integral to accepting conversion… it is not conversion but the first step of obedience. Hence it is faith which saves and baptism functions at the pledge.

    Once again that is the wording of Romans 6. Those who were baptized have pledged to live a Christian life. “How shall we ho died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3-4). Paul is drawing the same correlation… “You pledged to not sin so why are you!? Or did you not realize you made this pledge?” (my paraphrase) Do you see the comparison? This is why Paul continues to discuss their water baptism in those terms.

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  128. Baptism is a means of Grace.
    As we have discussed prior, we all agree that God in the end saves us. I would take it further then you all would (it seems) and say that God only saves those whom he foreknew/predestined/chose before the foundations of the world. From everything I read in the Bible, I believe that baptism is important. It functions as a pledge that one is committed to God, but it is by no means the effectual cause of salvation. Now, I will graciously grant that I may be undervaluing baptism, and that I am divorcing it too far from the conversion process. I concede that I may very well be over-reacting to many of the initial statements made by many of you all. With that said I do respect your views, I just feel (as you do toward me) that you are misguided. I am by no means trying to suppress the significance of baptism in the conversion process… I am trying to present a Biblical view of it. Baptism is commanded and therefore a requirement of true conversion. I believe we are pushing each other towards unhealthy extremes (I was thinking this about two weeks ago). My point is though, that we are all on the agreement that one who has not placed their faith in Christ should not be baptized… do you agree that baptism in this case means nothing? It can’t save and it certainly can’t create faith… so if one was to say first baptized then came to faith what would happen? Do they need to be rebaptized? or was the one which meant nothing now acceptable in God’s eyes? You see the problem? For me that’s an easy one… baptism is for believers, if you were not a believer then, and are one now… get baptized, because now you are making that pledge to publicly follow God. Now I do find it sad when people come to faith and then choose to not get baptized. But I would never say they weren’t saved. The thief on the cross proves as much. Well, maybe he was baptized prior to faith… problem: even if that were the case, that baptism, as we just covered meant nothing/and did nothing. Lastly, have you ever noticed people you come to faith that are Jewish or Muslim and don’t get baptized right away? Their family/friends don’t bother them too much until they get baptized… why? To the outside world nothing has changed… they don’t know nor care if baptism results in salvation. To them this person has now changed allegiances, to the outside world baptism means a commitment to following the Christian religion. And that is how I believe the NT presents baptism. Faith saves… but Baptism results in a commitment to that faith.

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  129. Jim, Matt, Nate and Stewart,

    I am new to this discussion but I would like to put in my two cents.

    The eternal destiny of a soul is decided upon one fact alone, that soul’s relationship to God. It is only God’s point of view that matters at that point. What I think or want is irrelevant. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life NO ONE comes to the Father except through me.” (emphasis mine) Christ is the only way to salvation. It is not anything we do. Period. End of Story. Christ’s death burial and resurrection are the means God intended for salvation. If this is not the case God was merely abusing His only Son. Baptism is a symbol of what we believe. It is a testimony to the fact that by belief in Christ we have been taken from death into life. Baptism cannot save you or remove sin, only Christ’s death on the cross can do that.

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  130. Ok, A lot of things being mis-understood here.

    Stewart, I too believe that the order matters. Baptism without faith is just getting wet. And yes, Peter does say that it is not the removal of the filth of the flesh that is being talked about. He says it is the answer of a good conscience toward God. Why is it an answer of a good conscience? Because we have obeyed what God told us to do. You see Stewart, I too believe that we don’t earn salvation, and I agree that faith is a response. However, in the same manner, being baptized is also a response to a command of God.

    The question is whether or not we can get in Christ in some way other than baptism. Galations 3 tells us we are baptized into Christ. If salvation is in Christ (and we all seem to agree it is), then baptism is part of the process. Notice in Romans 6, around verse 17, Paul says that they had been servants of sin, but they had obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine delivered to them. From the heart indicates faith, and the obedience indicates some type of action. This is said in the context of describing what baptism is. He says that after this obedience is when the became free from sin. Nowhere do I recall the flood being referred to as a test, rather judgement being brought upon the earth because of the extreme wickedness of the inhabitants. The same water that killed everyone else saved Noah and his family. The only reason he was saved by it is because he was righteous and had constructed the ark as commanded by God. Peter says it is in the same way in which baptism now saves us. When we are baptized we have obeyed what God told us to do to come in contact with the blood of christ which washes away our sins. Certainly, I can’t leave off faith, because without it, I wouldn’t care what God told me to do. I can’t leave off repentance, because without turning away from my life of sin I can’t turn toward God. Sin separates me from God. I can’t leave off confessing that Christ is the son of God, or my name will not be confessed before the Father. Neither can I leave off baptism, or I will not have my sins washed away. Are the literally washed away? Do I see them swirl down the drain? Obviously, it is through faithful obedience to the commands of God that culminates in my salvation. Too many NT passages plainly state that more than faith alone is required for salvation.

    You bring up the thief on the cross. My first response is that Jesus could save anyone he wanted to any way He wanted to. And I suppose, if I saw Jesus in the street, He could spesk it and I could be saved then as well. Instead, He has provided His word to me in the New Testament, and in it He has graciously laid out what He expects from me. Therefore, I have no choice but to do what He has told me to do. Also, Christ had not died at the point He told the thief he would be in paradise, so the Old Law was still in effect. The New Testament, the law of Christ, would not come into effect until Christ’s death. So, consequently I am under a different requirement than the thief would have been anyway.

    I think I need to respond a little more, but I need to look up some passages and say a little more a little later.

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  131. Jim,
    I think you and I basically agree on everything except what baptism is. I’m curious why you refer to baptism as a response. Because while I agree that baptism is a response of obedience… it is not a response as faith is. Baptism regardless as to how one words it is a physical act I do. And as Peter expertly explained it, our salvation is based solely on the one who saves. Tacking on baptism as a requirement adds in an element that I control. My salvation is partially in my hands… and if it is in my hands (even partially) it is not by grace that I am saved, but of works.

    I cannot in anyway hold to a doctrine of anything apart from belief accredits me salvation or the removal of sin. The scriptures never allow me to take it that far.

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  132. Stewart, does that mean that God will save me against my will? Are you saying that I have no role whatsoever in my salvation? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that I can earn it in any way. All I’m saying is that I have to choose to be saved, and the way I do that is by faith (Heb. 11:6), repentence (Acts 2:38), confession (Rom. 10:9-10), baptism (1 Pet 3:21), and living a faithful life before God (Rev. 2:10) as Nate and Jim have repeatedly pointed out. No one deserves salvation; it’s by God’s grace that we even have a way to be saved. It’s up to me to find that way and follow it.

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  133. Ryley,
    You hit upon one of the most difficult aspects of theology. God’s choice to save me V my choice in coming to him. The Bible tells us that God chose us before the foundations of the world. But it also tells us that faiths saves and that we have to choose to accept or reject Him. So what do we do now? Personally, I believe this is a tension that no theologian can fully answer. On the one hand, we have God’s irresistible grace; and the other, free choice. Its best left as an unresolved tension, for to move the pendulum to far in either direction results in answer that the Bible doesn’t support.

    Also, we don’t choose to be saved… that would place salvation under the category of ‘something I can earn.’ We accept God’s pressings in our lives and allow Him to lead us. And that is the most difficult thing in the world to do. Why? Because I want control of my life. And salvation requires placing myself on the complete dependence of my Creator. That is trust, and that is faith in His gospel. When you do that you have no choice but to acknowledge that you are a sinner and confess/repent of your sins. At that point, you are made righteous; the scriptures tell us that.

    Baptism is the next step, it is a public confession of faith to follow the ways of the Lord. It illustrates not only what Christ went through on the cross, but what we have literally gone through in becoming a new creation.

    Obedience and faith are too well connected throughout the entire NT to create a dichotomy and say either I follow His commands or I go to Hell. Remember every sin that was, is, and will be committed for all eternity was taken upon the Jesus at the cross. Once I have placed my faith in Christ I am eternally saved. Yes, it is by God’s grace that we are saved… but He has already told us how to find it… through the faith that He has already given us. Everything lies in faith alone. Why did God choose faith? Because it is the only human quality that displays selflessness. Anything less is not saving faith.

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  134. Stewart,
    Why is faith a different response from baptism? Isn’t a response something that is done because of some stimulation received? God has commanded faith as a requirement of salvation. We both agree on that. I disagree that my doing something in order to obtain salvation in any way lessens the grace involved. You say that the scriptures won’t allow you to take the idea of doing something so far as to say it influences salvation. Where does this come from? The new testament is full of passages telling us what we are to do. Why did the apostles suffer the things they did if their actions didn’t affect their salvation? Why didn’t they just quietly have their faith and rest upon the fact that God was going to save them? You say that repentance and confession are a part of the response of salvation. How can you reconcile this with Faith only? Does God handle repentance for us? Does He make confession for us? Where in the New Testament do we find a passage that shows the conversion of someone who didn’t do anything? If faith is provided by God, why are we told to believe or perish, because by your argument it is God doing it all. And, if God requires ME to have faith, and my faith is a response to Him telling me that, then why would you limit the response to just faith when God has told us to do other things (i.e. repent, confess, and yes, be baptized)? To say that “faith only” is what saves us takes all responsibility off of us, and in effect is saying that God is a respecter of persons and only saves those whom He gives faith to, and condemns the rest. This is an arbitrary, unfair, and illogical approach.

    How can I be confident that grace or faith saves me? I know the bible says so, but it also says baptism, repentance and confession saves me, and if it doesn’t mean what it says in regard to those activities, why should it be believed in regard to faith and grace? It ssems to be cherry picking the scriptures.

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  135. Very good points Jim,
    I’m sure you would agree that once a person is saved, they are to “work out [their] salvation with fear and trembling.” You see that is why the Apostles did not just sit back and quietly enjoy their new found faith… you see it is at the point of salvation that obedience comes into play, not before. We are supposed to follow His commands, because we have now placed our eternal security in the hands of someone whom we trust and love… with all our “heart, soul and might.” We don’t obey because we can loose our salvation, we obey because we want others to acquire that same joy that we have; that same security. Of course the NT is full of what we are supposed to do? why, because that is what brings glory to our savior. Furthermore, God is the author of our salvation and the perfect completion of that salvation (Hebrews 5:9, 12:2). Salvation does begin with God and ends with God. Also, I am not saying that we passively sit by and do nothing. Salvation, which is of faith, can only come when you allow God to lead your life. It is a response completely rooted in faith. Baptism is something you do, it is a rite you go through. Yes, I will agree that it is precipitated by faith and that baptism shows your obedience to the one who has saved you. The notion of believe or perish fits snugly with what I am saying. You see while yes while specific individuals are predestined, or chosen. We don’t know who they are. Furthermore, the gift of salvation is given to all because God does not wish any to perish. Through His foreknowledge He knows who who accept that invitation and he has already predestined them to do just that. And that is the marvel of it all, we do not fully understand His ways and I would make no claim to even try 🙂 All I do know is that everything works for His glory, and that is something I can take full comfort in.

    Lastly, you stated, “To say that “faith only” is what saves us takes all responsibility off of us, and in effect is saying that God is a respecter of persons and only saves those whom He gives faith to, and condemns the rest.” Well yes, in essence that is what I am saying. however, that does not make God a respecter of persons. That makes God have no respect for persons. It clearly shows instead that God created an untested perfect being and Sin corrupted that creation. God understands this in ways we cannot. It does not in anyway remove responsibility from us. In the end it points to the fact that I can do nothing to attain salvation apart from the author of that salvation.

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  136. So Stewart,
    Let me get this straight. Are you saying we are saved, and THEN we are required to obey? If this is what you are saying, then do you not see how illogical this is? Can you not see that your argument demonstrates a lack of faith? Look at Acts 26:27-28. Paul is talking to Agrippa, who was knowledgable about the scriptures, he knew the prophesies, and Paul says that he knew agrippa believed, yat it is evident that Agrippa knew he wasn’t a Christian. Why not? He obviously had faith in God, and that obviously wasn’t enough. Look at Acts 10 and 11. Cornelius was a devout man who feared God and did much good, yet he obviously wasn’t saved. Why? What was he lacking? In chapter 11:14 Peter recounts the events, and says that Cornelius was instructed to send for Peter who would tell him words by which he could be saved. What is the result of these words? Cornelius and all his household were baptized, leading to the conclusion that it was part of the salvation process. James 1:22 tells us God begat us with the word of truth. He also tells us in James 1:22-25 that we are to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Matthew 7:21-27 tells us basically the same thing. If, by your own argument, faith is a response, not reaslly us doing something, but God doing for us, then how can that be sufficient for salvation? It is plainly stated that obedience is necessary for salvation (see Romans 6,2Thessalonians 1:7-10, Hebrews 5:9, etc).

    I believe you are hoding to a premise, that while it is comforting and sounds good, is false. If you look at the scriptures with an open and clear mind, it becomes obvious that God DOES expect us to render obedience to his word, and that obedience includes more than faith.

    I am not addressing predestination at this time, I want to stay on the subject of salvation until we reach some resolution, to say God is not a respecter of persons while saying that he arbitrarily chooses to save some and not others, regardless of an individuals actions, is a lie. If God chooses to sve you and not me before we are even born, regardless of our actions, then He has shown preference to you without any basis, and that makes Him a respecter of persons. More on this later.

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  137. Stewart’
    I got a little off track, sorry. I started off by saying that the argument of faith only demonstrates a lack of faith. Let me attempt to explain.

    If I have faith in God and His word, I will do what He has told me to do. Look at James 2 again. The point is being made, in context of the 1st chapter, that God expects us to do something (follow His commands), and if we don’t, our faith is not suffivient to save us. When God tells us repentance saves us, we have to believe it enough to repent. When God says confession saves us, we have to believe enough to confess. When God tells us baptism saves us, we have to have streong enough faith to be baptized. When god says to live faithfully and follow the teachings of the new testament to be pleasing to Him, we must have strong enough faith to do it. It is this strong faith, coupled with our obedience to the requirements of god that will save us. Faith by itself is weak and ineffective, and will not save, being alone.

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  138. I see…
    Jim, you mentioned, “to say God is not a respecter of persons while saying that he arbitrarily chooses to save some and not others, regardless of an individuals actions, is a lie.” It not a lie at all, in fact that is the Biblical standpoint… remember there is nothing we can do to merit us salvation. Nothing. “All our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

    In fact let’s look at that whole passage (Isaiah 64:6-7):
    But we are all like an unclean thing,
    And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
    We all fade as a leaf,
    And our iniquities, like the wind,
    Have taken us away.
    And there is no one who calls on Your name,
    Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
    For You have hidden Your face from us,
    And have consumed us because of our iniquities.

    Isaiah, states it much better than I. We are unclean, our righteousness is worthless, we will fade as a leaf due to our iniquities which toss us around in the wind. The truth comes out in verse 7, Isaiah calls out that no one calls on God’s name anymore… that is the whole key. God saves, period. There is nothing, not even baptism, that I can do to gain salvation.

    Also, I am not saying that we are to follow God’s commands once we are saved. We are always supposed to obey God’s commands, and it is the sheer fact that we don’t on a daily basis which arises the need for a savior. If baptism saves me, then every time I sin (i.e. a lie, an impure thought, a brief notion of anger, etc.) I would then have to be rebaptized. And the point is, I don’t. Faith in God is all that matters because He is the author of my faith. Once again I point to the thief on the cross.

    Lastly, if faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain… the amount of faith that one may or may not have makes no difference.

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  139. Stewart,
    Isaiah was prophesying to Israel and Judah. They had turned their backs on God and were worhipping and performing works of “righteousness” in accordance with their own will and desire without any consideration of God’s commands. Isreal was sent into Assyrian captivity and Judah into Babalonian captivity because of their failure to repent and turn back to God. You should notice that tese people knew God, were His chosen people, and obviously had faith. However, God was displeased with them and punished them, removing them from the promised land because of disobedience.

    Also, you seem to misunderstand the purpose of baptism. You stated that if baptism saves, then we would need to be rebaptized almost daily because we often sin. The bible doesn’t support this statement. What the bible does support is the fact that by obeying God (thru faith, repentance, confession, and baptism) we enter a covenant relationship with Him, and become part of the family of God. As such, we have the opportunity to turn from our sin and ask for forgiveness (see Acts 8 and Simon the Sorcerer). If you understand Romans 6 and what is said there in describing how baptism works, then it becomes apparent that Baptism is not something that is done repeatedly.

    1 Corinthians 10:11, making reference to the old testament, tells us that those things that happened are for an example to us that we might learn from them. What do we find there? Obedience to God was demanded and those who were not obedient to God were punished. 2Thessalonians 1:8 tell us that God will take vengence on those who do not obey Him.

    There are numerous passages in the New Testament (which have been pointed out to you several times already) that plainly state what saves us. How can you ignore these passages? Nowhere is faith only mentioned as saving us. Your view is like me saying I can be saved without faith because a passage says I can be saved by repentance. It all works together, and yes, I can impact my salvation, not by works that I have done, but by obeying the commands of God. This obedience is not “my” works, rather it is me doing the works of God, which is simply complying with His requirements. God is the author of my salvation. It is His plan, He sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice, without which there would be no salvation. James 2, which you chose to ignore, tells us that we have a responsibility to DO what God has said. If faith is all we need, then the devils are saved also, because they believe. This simply is not enough.

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  140. I’ve been away for awhile and am just now catching up on the latest responses. Though this may have been answered already (I haven’t read them all yet), I wanted to point something out to Stewart:

    In 1 Peter 3:21, I think you are misreading something. When it says “not the removal of the filth of the flesh”, it means that baptism is not the same as taking a bath. In other words, the purpose of baptism is not to physically remove whatever dirt you might have on your body at the time; instead, it’s the “answer of a good conscience toward God.”

    That statement doesn’t mean that it’s talking about something other than water baptism. In fact, I think that when Peter says in the preceding verse that “eight souls were saved through water” and then compares it to baptism, it shows that water baptism is definitely what’s being talked about here. But Acts 8:38-39 shows that definitively.

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  141. Sorry, I know I’m rehashing old territory, but Stewart, I agreed with a lot of what you said in post 135.

    I wholeheartedly agree that baptism is a means of grace. Incidentally, I do wonder if our differences on predestination is one of the root problems here. If you believe that God chose only certain individuals before he created the world, then yes, there’s nothing we can do for salvation. I’d say our faith is even moot. If God chose us, that’s it.

    Of course, I think that’s in direct conflict with the passage that tells us God wants everyone to be saved, and I fail to see the need of the Bible at all, if everyone’s already slated to go to either heaven or hell. But I suppose those are points for another thread.

    Anyway, I also don’t quite understand why you separate conversion from salvation. Will God save us before we commit ourselves to him? Paul especially talks about being a “living sacrifice” quite often, so it’s hard for me to see how we can be reconciled to God without committing to him. This is another reason why I think baptism is necessary – we both agree that it’s part of the “conversion process,” only I think that we aren’t really saved until we’ve been converted.

    Finally, I think we have to be very careful about going back to the thief on the cross for our example of a proper salvation. You are right that baptism prior to faith is meaningless (although I think Jim’s argument is that the thief may have had faith in Jesus before his crucifixion). But let’s assume he was never baptized at all. Jesus had already demonstrated that he had the power to forgive sins while he was on earth, so if nothing else, the thief’s salvation seems to have been a special case: he was nailed to a piece of wood and speaking directly with Jesus. None of us will ever be in that situation. More importantly though, the Old Law was still in effect, since Jesus hadn’t died yet. The New Testament teachings of baptism were still irrelevant at this point.

    These points may have already been made, but I’m still playing catch up.

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  142. Again, this may have been covered already, but I want to throw something in here.

    Stewart, you’ve said that you can’t accept a doctrine that would have you do anything for salvation – that since we’re saved by God’s grace, salvation can’t depend on us at all. But in the same breath, you say that we must have faith. Isn’t that something that depends on us for salvation?

    I’m having trouble understanding this concept.

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  143. I think Jim’s last few points have been excellent. Stewart, I think (and I could be wrong) that the foundation you have has been heavily influenced by a lot of Calvinistic doctrine. Obviously, you’re not alone. I’d say most of the mainstream denominations today are in that same boat. And as long as you hold to that foundation and refuse to question its authenticity, then you’ll always be forced to explain away passages that deal with baptism, or anything other than faith.

    However, if you’ll take some of those beliefs that I’m sure you’ve held for many years, and kind of “go back to square one” with them, you might come to some different conclusions.

    Ideas like faith alone, eternal security, predestination, total hereditary depravity, etc are very prevalent today. And I’ll admit that they all seem to have some basis in scripture. But if you’ll let yourself question those things, you may see some holes in their logic.

    As has been shown on here several times, there are passages that seem to contradict those ideas. I would encourage you to study through them carefully. Perhaps there’s a way for the entire Bible to fit together a little more cohesively with fewer contradictions.

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  144. Jim,
    The reason that Isaiah, or any other prophet for that matter, prophesied against Israel was completely due to their lack of faith. Just because they were God’s chosen people (i.e. nation) did not make them God’s chosen (i.e. individuals). Paul says this in Romans 9. Those who were disobeying God were faithless and therefore went to hell.

    On baptism, the reason I stated what I did about the necessity for rebaptism is strictly toward your view. I do not believe in rebaptism at all, nor do I believe that baptism regenerates us in any way. My purpose in that statement was to show you how your two views don’t line up. You and Nate have both presented the view that eternal security is a wrong view of the gospel. That we can loose our salvation… my point is if you can loose your salvation through sinning/disobedience then every time this happens and you need to be resaved… you would also have to be rebaptized. Furthermore, where is the line drawn? Each little sin, or only the big ones? And for that matter who decides what sins constitute loss of salvation? I mean on a human level individual sins have varying consequences, but to God sin is sin; they are all an affront to God and carry the same consequence: “the wages of sin is death” one sin = eternal damnation. My point in the rebaptism statement was to show you that your two views don’t align well together.

    When it comes to salvation, I agree that everything works together. I am not denying that. I am saying faith, repentance, and confession are all part of the process which I am labeling faith. What I am also saying though is that baptism is NOT part of the salvation process. I am not ignoring the Biblical data at all. I am interpreting it differently, that is all. My interpretation comes from a clear reading of the text and weighing the various statements in light of their context. For instance, Romans 4-8 is one big topic where Paul focuses on Grace verses Law; or on how righteousness is obtained. Romans 6 is found directly in the center of that topic, it is not a new topic only an aspect of the greater whole. So when Paul mentions Baptism we have to understand why he brought it up and its significance to the argument at hand. Only when you understand that, can one then go deeper and dissect and individual statement. This is why I interpret Romans 6 an expression of an internal truth. Paul is focused on righteousness and obtaining it. He never states that baptism makes you righteous. He says that since you have been baptized why are you acting this way! In other words: you obeyed Christ in one aspect of your life, why aren’t you obeying Christ in ALL aspects of your life? Now, Paul goes on to answer that in greater detail, but my point stands that the focus of that passage is not what baptism has done for us (for Paul uses that rite to express a greater truth), but you have been made righteous though Christ.

    Nate,
    With 1 Peter, I agree with your statement that the “filth of the flesh” is not referring to dirt. If I made that unclear my apologies. What Peter is saying is that Baptism doesn’t remove sin. Throughout the NT, the flesh, or fleshly desires, is a reference to sin. Peter is saying that baptism does not remove sin, it does not make you righteous. Instead it answers a good conscience toward God; this is obedience.

    Also, I don’t separate conversion from salvation… they are synonymous. If you thought that I have, I didn’t mean to. Don’t remember saying that either…

    As for the thief on the cross, I would say that he’s a vital point to the argument. Because God does not change. So regardless as to which dispensation we are in at that point (under Law or under Grace) the fact of the matter is how one is accredited righteousness. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that salvation comes through God’s grace. I would strongly argue that this statement transcends all time. OT Salvation came through grace in the form of the Law and looking forward to the coming messiah; and NT salvation comes through grace in the form of our savior. Which leads me to your thoughts on predestination. It is so hard to wrap my head around that I normally don’t try, I mean seriously the Bible does not tell us everything on it. All I do know is that, yes god desires all to be saved. But due to our choices (which he has foreknowledge of) certain individuals are predestined to heaven and the others aren’t. So while I know it is not a moot point, I just don’t have any further information given to me. God has chosen only so much to tell. It’s like a blind person trying to understand the difference between the color blue and the color green. He can’t see so he can only understand so much; I would say the same to true of us, we as humans can never understand predestination to the level of God. It is not possible.

    Good question on faith verses us not doing anything. Think about it this way, we are sinners. A fallen race which has no redeeming qualities (I am not being pessimistic, this is a realistic statement which the Bible affirms). Therefore, there is nothing I can do to gain entrance into heaven. If my good deeds were to out weigh my sins that would not matter. I have sinned, am eternally damned. Nothing, absolutely nothing I can to will provide salvation from Hell. But you see faith, is not something I do. Faith is not a work. Faith is a belief. Faith is placing my complete trust in another. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This distinction is a biblical distinction, there is a huge difference between a work and faith. Paul states in his letter to the Galatians: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

    Good point on the heavily Calvinistic, but I’m a Fundamental Dispensationalist not a Calvinist (there are major differences, but as you’ve assertained there are many similarities as well). Also, I do question my beliefs. If a passage contradicts a belief I must study it out and discover whether-or-not it actually does. In some cases I have changed my standing on a point, on others I have discovered that there is an underlying harmony that at first glance I missed.

    I believe the hermeneutics we each use are where our differences are found. That is why you claim the scriptures say one thing and I claim the scriptures say another.

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  145. Stewart,
    I too believe that God’s displeasure with Israel is a result of a lack of faith. My point, however, was to point out that they still had faith in God–they believed He existed, and that He had done great things for them and that they were His people, but their faith was not suffivient enough to cause them to obey Him as He commanded. This is in answer to your statement that there are no differences in degrees of faith, and that if you have faith at all, then you are saved by that alone. As you say, God’s character hasn’t changed, which actually proves my point that God expects us to have enough faith to obey Him, and less than that is not sufficient. As for your statement that repentance and confession are a part of the salvation process and that you are referring to that as faith, I don’t understand. If repentance and confession are necessary, then faith alone is not sufficient. Also, if God requires me to have faith, then that is something I must do. Whether it is a physical work or as mental work, it is still work. Seems like common sense to me. Also, Romans compares the law of grace with the old law. But the law of grace, meaning the New Testament, the law of Christ, is still a law and must still be obeyed. Yes, after complying with God’s requirements (faith, repentance, confession, and baptism) we must continue to serve Him. We will sin, and we are told that sin separates us from God. Does this mean we have to repeat those first requirements? No, we are given a way to receive forgiveness through repentance and prayer. Look carefully at the examples of conversion in Acts. Look also at what Simon the sorcerer is told to do after he has become a christian and commits a sin. He is told to pray and ask God to forgive him. Other epistles, written to those who were already christians, are told the same thing. Romans 6 is plainly telling us how baptism works. It is through God’s grace that He has provided the means whereby we must be saved, but that tells us we must comply with what God, through His grace, has told us to do. It is only through this that we can have the hope of entering heaven.

    There have been numerous examples of how people were converted after the death of Christ. The thing about the thief on the cross is that the example occured before the death of Christ, so he was not under the same law that we are under (according to Hebrews, it takes the death of a testator before the testament goes into effect). I think I will rest my salvation on what is plainly stated in the NT verses what Jesus told an individual before His death. He could chose to save someone any way He wants to, but His word tells me what I must do, and unless He were to stand in front of me I don’t think I should assume He will save me in some other fasion than what He has proscribed in His word.

    How can you say that 1 peter 3:21 is telling us baptism has nothing to do with salvation? The passage plainly says “baptism doth also now save us”. How can this be interpreted to say anything other than what it says? You are right about one thing here, it is an act of obedience to God’s commands. Where do you find the suggestion that disobedience results in salvation? If your “interpretation” results in making something mean the opposite of what it says, then I would suggest that something is wrong with the interpretation. 1Peter 1:20 tells us that the scriptures are not of any private interprtation. In other words, they mean what they say. Yes, they must be harmonized, for they all have to fit together, but your view twists things that are plainly stated, so I don’t see how it can be the correct view.

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  146. Stewart, I don’t think you got my point on 1 Pet 3. When it says “not the removal of the filth of the flesh” I do think this is talking about physical dirt. In other words, Peter is explaining that even though you are being baptized in water, the purpose is not to wash your physical body. The purpose is to wash you spiritually. Peter is basically saying that there’s nothing special about the physical water that you’re being submerged in; instead, this process saves you because of your faith (ie, your “answer of a good conscience toward God”). Really, that fits in perfectly with James 2, which tells us our faith must produce action, and Hebrews, which shows so many examples of that very thing: faith producing action.

    My point about separating baptism and conversion came from my understanding of a few of your points. You’re right, I don’t think you ever said that exact thing, but the end result seems about the same to me. You’ve said that baptism is a public recognition of your salvation, and coupled with some of these other things you’ve said (which are below), it caused me to think you saw a separation between salvation and conversion:

    “Baptism is something you do, it is a rite you go through. Yes, I will agree that it is precipitated by faith and that baptism shows your obedience to the one who has saved you.”

    “Baptism is the next step, it is a public confession of faith to follow the ways of the Lord. It illustrates not only what Christ went through on the cross, but what we have literally gone through in becoming a new creation.”

    I want to point out something about this last quote. According to Romans 6 we only become that “new creation” when we’ve risen from baptism. It’s repeated in these next verses:

    11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins[c] of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. – Col 2:11-14

    1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Col 3:1-3

    9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. – Col 3:9-11

    I only pasted excerpts from that entire passage, but I recommend that you read the whole thing. As you can see, it starts off in Colossians 2 by comparing the Jewish rite of circumcision with the Christian one of baptism, and it’s through that that we “put off the body of the sins of the flesh.” Then he tells us that we’ve now been made alive with Christ through that same act, and our trespasses have been forgiven.

    In Col 3, he refers back to baptism again when he says “if then you were raised with Christ…” Colossians 2 and Romans 6 both show us how we are “raised with Christ;” it’s through baptism!

    Why is baptism so important? Well from the passages we just looked at, the symbolism is pretty evident. But I think I can also answer this question by commenting on another of your recent points:

    “Why did God choose faith? Because it is the only human quality that displays selflessness. Anything less is not saving faith.”

    Well said. Faith is letting go of the reins in our life and handing them over to God. But in order to do that, we have to submit to God in the way he has told us to. If my wife tells me that she trusts me with the checkbook, but refuses to actually let me hold it, then how much does she really trust me?

    As you said, anything less than than a full committment to God is not saving faith. So if someone refuses to do the things God has asked them to do, how much faith do they really have? That’s the idea of saving, Biblical faith. And that’s why true faith requires repentance, confession, baptism, and sincere effort to be pleasing to God and receive his grace.

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  147. Jim,
    Do you recognize a difference between faith: “I believe in God” and faith: “I believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ”? There are no degrees to faith. But there is a difference in having faith and claiming faith… the Jews claimed faith, they did not have faith.

    Also I am not twisting scripture to fit my view. Its the hermeneutic I use. You see I hold to a literal translation of Scripture (just as I believe that you do). However there is a difference, I interpret scripture based on the literary devices found contextually around the passage. So if the author is using an an illustration or an analogy, I have to understand that is what he is using and why. In the case of Peter, he is clearly using the flood waters to express a greater truth concerning baptism.

    Nate,
    Never in the Bible do you find dirt or filth when coupled with flesh to mean a dirty body. Peter is most definitely referring to removal of sin. That is what filth of the flesh means, its a reference to fleshly desires. Peter states baptism does not remove that.

    I believe to are interpreting Colossians 2:12 wrong. “Buried with Him in baptism” is obviously not literal. Its a symbolic representation of a truth. I mean when we undergo baptism we go under the water to symbolize the death of Christ. We are symbolically buried under water as he was literally buried in the earth. The act is a representation of a truth to symbolize the new life we now live in Him.

    Also baptism has not replaced circumcision… Romans 2 and 4 tells us that circumcision was always supposed to be a matter of the heart and it was symbolically represented though the physical act.

    While I like your statement about handing our reins over to God and the whole checkbook illustration. Can’t your actions prior to baptism show just as much ‘faith’ as afterwards? Why do we always think there is some action that we must do to be accredited salvation? Honestly isn’t that arrogant on our part? By the grace of God you are saved through faith in Christ Jesus… simple and direct, no works lest any man should boast. Salvation at the point of baptism, is boasting in the baptism and not the grace of God.

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  148. Stewart
    Saying baptism is required for salvation in no way says or boasts that I have worked my way to heaven. As has been stated over and over in this discussion, baptism is fullfilling the requirement God has set forth. It is plainly stated in scripture that baptism saves. No one in this discussion has claimed that baptism only saves, or that by coming up with some meritorius wok on my own that I can earn my salvation. Yhe point all along has been that faith only doesn’t save, but it requires fulfilling all the requirements God has set forth. Even having done all I can in service to God, I still don’t deserve salvation, but God through His grace has promised to save me anyway if I am obedient to Him.

    Yes, there is a difference in claiming to have faith and having faith. If I have faith that saves, then it is sufficient to cause me to OBEY all God has told me to do. Keep in mind also that james 2 tells us the devils also believe and tremble. He doesn’t say they claim to believe, but that they believe. What other conclusion can we come to but that there are different “degree” of faith? Didn’t Jesus comment about those who had “little faith” and those who had “great faith”? Have you ever wondered why Abraham’s faith was counted for righteousness? Wasn’t it because it was strong enough to cause him to trust in God and obey Him?

    Of course baptism is symbolic. We aren’t actually physically buried with Christ. It is emblematic, but if it isn’t done, we haven’t complied with God’s requirement.

    You claim to look at the bible literally, and to look at the context of a passage to understand it. I would suggest that you are instead reading one passage and trying to make everything else fit within the premise you have decided on from one passage. As proof I would say that you have teken a passage that says faith saves, and concluded that faith ONLY must save, so other passages that mention something else can’t mean what they say. I also don’t understand why you can claim faith only includes repentance and confession. Faith only is faith only. Repentance and confession are not the same as faith only, but are in additon to faith. How can 1+1+1=1? if this is your “hermenuetics”, then I don’t think it makes much sense.

    As far as your point about filth of the flest only referring to sin in the new testament, where does this assumption come from? Even if you are right, look carefully at what peter is saying. It is not the water that is doing anything. It is the obedience to what God has commanded that saves. If God told us that standing on our heads and stacking greasy BB’s would save us, then we would have to do it. We wouldn’t be earning our way to heaven by doing it anymore than we are earning our way to heaven by having faith repenting, and confessing Christ. It is all complying with what God has told us to do. If you take a step back and look at the whole bible story, you see that it is about doing what God has told us to do in the way He has told us to do it as much as it is about faith.

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