Thursday, February 11, 2010

“FAITH ALONE” (PART 3)

The First Attempt

The story of the offerings of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-5), the first sons of Adam, is very revealing to us, and relevant to this topic. It demonstrates the fact that, since the beginning, God never intended that man’s works would ever contribute to his salvation. Both Cain and Abel brought a sacrifice to God: Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground (i.e., the labor of his hands), while Abel brought an innocent animal, an unblemished victim, of his flock. And of course, the Bible tells us that God accepted Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s. Cain’s offering is man’s first recorded attempt to earn salvation.

The very fact that the work of Cain’s hands was rejected, indicates that God wants us to trust in the Innocent Substitute in order to be saved, rather than our good works. Abel’s sacrifice represents Jesus on the cross, an innocent and perfectly unblemished and righteous Person to die in the place of sinful man; while Cain’s sacrifice represents all of man’s energy, work, and suffering in his futile attempts to become right with God. But that didn’t save anyone at that time, and it doesn’t save today. If “faith PLUS works” is what saves (as Catholics believe), then why didn’t Abel offer fruits and vegetables ALONG WITH the animal sacrifice? No, there is only one thing that saves, and that is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to which Abel’s offering pointed.

Cain’s offering was rejected for the same reason that the fig leaves were taken away from his parents, and replaced with animal skins (Genesis 3:7, 21). That is, an innocent one had to shed his blood and die to cover their nakedness. The fig leaves were not good enough, because they too, represented the work of man’s hands. Cain was not recognizing the seriousness of his condition as a sinner and the need for an innocent life to be sacrificed. Once again, if man is saved by “faith plus works,” then why didn’t God just ADD the animal skins to the fig leaves?

To Work or Not to Work...

CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT WHAT ABOUT VERSES LIKE PHILIPPIANS 2:12, WHICH SAYS TO “WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING”? DOESN’T THIS MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO WORK TO BE JUSTIFIED?

No, Paul is talking about the outworking, or the “living out” of our salvation. Once again, the context is not “how to be saved,” but Paul is describing the glorious Second Person of the Trinity, what He gave up for us, and how we should live, in light of that. It’s not about doing works in order to obtain our salvation, but it’s about our time of growth, our sanctification. We are not saved “by good works,” we are saved “in order to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

Catholics speak of their works being done in a “state of grace.” That is, if one does good works in this state of grace, his works will then count toward his salvation. According to them, God still gets the credit, since HE gave them the ability to do the good works in the first place. Therefore, it is “all God,” they say. And since God does these grace-infused works through us, He is glorified when we are justified through those works, right? Well… not exactly.

It is true that God is glorified when we do good works. And yes, it is true that everything good comes from God, but that doesn’t mean that everything good is salvific, (i.e., has the power to save us). God is the One Who determines what saves and what doesn’t save… and He tells us in His Word that we are justified (in the “saving” sense) – not by works – but by faith APART FROM WORKS (Romans 3:28; 4:4-6; Titus 3:5). [See Part 2 of this series]

Someone once said that people who think that these ‘grace-infused works’ will save them, will either:

1) downplay God’s demand for PERFECTION, or
2) exaggerate on their OWN righteousness

I happen to agree with that. None of us are perfect in our good works, so we must trust in that perfect work of Jesus and HIS righteousness, not ours.


CATHOLIC CLAIM – WHAT ABOUT ALL THE “ENDURE-TO-THE-END” TYPE VERSES (MATTHEW 24:13; MARK 13:13)? DON’T THESE INDICATE THAT ENDURING HARDSHIP AND DOING GOOD WORKS TILL THE END, ARE THE KEY TO SALVATION?

No, the apostle Paul said:

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by HEARING WITH FAITH? Are you so foolish? Having BEGUN by the Spirit, are you now being PERFECTED by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 NASB)

Paul is saying that the thing which has “birthed” us into the body of Christ (faith / trust in Jesus), will be the SAME THING which will MAINTAIN us in our Christian walk. Yes, we will have to endure to the end, but it is the maintaining of our FAITH that brings this about, and works are just a natural by-product of that (true) faith. Remember, our good works do please God, and we will be rewarded for our good works, but they are the result, not the cause, of salvation. Faith is what “gets” us saved, and faith is what “keeps” us saved. Not works.

CATHOLIC CLAIM - BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR SUFFERINGS THAT WE EXPERIENCE FOR HIM? DOESN’T THAT CONTRIBUTE TO OUR SALVATION? (CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, #1435) AFTER ALL, PAUL DOES TELL US THAT HE “…FILL[S] UP THAT WHICH IS BEHIND [LACKING] OF THE AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST IN MY FLESH FOR HIS BODY’S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH.” (COLOSSIANS 1:24)

But there is absolutely nothing lacking in the afflictions of Christ, concerning His payment for sin. So, Paul is speaking of what is lacking in the church and is reminding us of his (Paul’s) suffering for them. But Paul never says that man’s suffering justifies anyone.

Jesus suffered for a DIFFERENT reason than we do. He suffered to pay for the sins of mankind, but we (the church) suffer in the sense of bearing each other’s burdens, and laboring to win souls.

Again, there is no “lack” in Christ’s work. Sadly, this verse is so often twisted by Catholics to say something that it doesn’t say.

CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT SCRIPTURE TELLS US THAT FAITH, ITSELF, IS A “WORK”, ACCORDING TO JOHN 6:29: "JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THEM, 'THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE ON HIM WHOM HE HATH SENT'.”

But those who say this miss Jesus’ whole point. Jesus was NOT defining faith as a “work” at all. The Jews were the ones who first brought up the subject of works. So Jesus just uses this as a springboard and responds to them on that topic. He is basically saying, “You’re asking what WORKS should be done to be right with God? This is the only so-called ‘work’ that God requires: You must BELIEVE IN ME. You’re looking for works, but God is requiring faith.” Jesus is actually re-directing their misguided view of works.

We believe that all of the verses that Catholics use when defending their “faith plus works” view, can be explained and reconciled with the Protestant understanding of "Faith Alone." However, we don’t believe that Catholics can reconcile their view of “faith plus works” with the context of Romans 3, 4, and 5, which clearly teaches the “Faith Alone” view.

Galatians
 
Probably the most devastating argument in the Bible against the “faith plus works” concept can be found in the book of Galatians. The apostle Paul was dealing with the error of the Judaizers, who convinced the Galatian churches that one must not only believe in Jesus’ work on the cross to be saved, but must also be circumcised. (Galatians 6:12) We see these same Judaizers in Acts 15:1, also.

Paul’s whole point was that they were (wrongly) adding to the work of the cross. They were teaching salvation by their works IN ADDITION TO faith in the cross, just as the Catholic Church does today (and unfortunately, many Protestants, also).

So, what’s the big deal? Why was Paul so disturbed by this? Isn’t it enough that Jesus’ work is being recognized? And can’t WE get at least some credit for our salvation?

Absolutely not! It’s either ALL Jesus, or not Jesus AT ALL. It can never be “Jesus PLUS my works.”

Notice the phrases used by Paul in Galatians to describe those who would add any works to the cross:

1) They NULLIFY / FRUSTRATE God’s grace (Galatians 2:21)
2) They have been SEVERED FROM CHRIST and have FALLEN FROM GRACE (Galatians 5:4 NASV)
3) They have DESERTED JESUS for a DIFFERENT GOSPEL (Galatians 1:6)
4) They are ACCURSED (Galatians 1:8-9)
Does anyone STILL want to claim that he can add to the cross, or cause some type of “increase” in his justification, through his works? [as the Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 24 teaches]

Examples
 
Finally, we have actual examples of people who were saved by faith, apart from their works.

Romans 4:2-3 tells us that Abraham (who lived before the Mosaic Law) was justified by faith alone, and just a few verses later (verse 6), we see that David (who lived under the Mosaic Law) was likewise saved.

Jesus also told the story of the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector) in Luke 18:9-14. In this short story, it is the unlikely (and usually hated) tax collector who goes home justified, simply because he humbled himself, knowing that he was an undeserving sinner, and he surrendered to God. The bragging Pharisee, who thought surely that God would be impressed with his works, made sure to tell God how great he (the Pharisee) was. The whole reason that Jesus presented this story is to caution against the attitude of those who “trusted in themselves” (verse 9).

And of course, we have the classic example of someone saved by faith alone: the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). He was one of two thieves hanging on their own crosses on either side of Jesus. At first, the “good thief” (as he came to be known) was mocking and ridiculing Jesus, like everyone else was (Matthew 27:38-44), but a little later, had a change of heart, defended Jesus, and condemned the other thief for his attitude (Luke 23:39-40). Then, with repentance, he uttered those immortal words, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (23:42). And of course, Jesus tells him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” Jesus didn’t say, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to come down from that cross, get baptized, participate in the Eucharist, and do this list of works I’ll give you…” No, He recognized the man’s change of heart (repentance and faith in Him) and accepted him on that basis. And He does the same for us today.

Conclusion
 
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has a number of teachings that put too much emphasis on works. Teachings like Purgatory, the Treasury of Merit, Indulgences, the idea that man can atone for sin by almsgiving (giving money), and mixing / confusing justification with sanctification… these all detract from the work of Jesus on the cross. These teachings are telling us that His suffering and dying was just not quite enough to pay the penalty for sin. WE must ADD something to make salvation complete. Catholics may not say it in these words, but this is truly the bottom line in their logic. In other words, they are saying that Jesus’ words, “It is finished,” (John 19:30) were not true. He apparently needs our “help” (according to the Catholic Church). Can any honest person deny that this is blasphemy?

But to be fair, the Catholic Church is not the only church that teaches that works contribute to a person’s justification. Sadly, there are also some Protestant churches that believe this teaching. It is also a fact that most (if not all) other world religions believe this same concept, in one form or another. You see, man (because of his nature) wants to take credit for things that he shouldn’t.

I pray that no one reading this will ever think that on Judgment Day, he will be able to stand before Jesus Christ and say, “Yes, Lord, You did Your 99% and I did my 1%, so I helped to pay for my own salvation...” God forbid.

It is my sincere prayer that no one (Catholic or Protestant) would ever fall prey to the deception and half-truths of this “faith plus works” doctrine. And may God have mercy on those who teach it.

17 comments:

  1. (3 of 3)

    R: Jesus also told the story of the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector) in Luke 18:9-14.

    N: Note that they BOTH believed in God already (thus this was not a 'conversion'), the difference was humility, not "faith alone".

    R: The whole reason that Jesus presented this story is to caution against the attitude of those who “trusted in themselves” (verse 9).

    N: Finish the verse: "and treated others with contempt." The issue wasn't 'faith alone', but rather pride and hypocrisy of pharisees versus humility.

    R: And of course, we have the classic example of someone saved by faith alone: the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43) ... the “good thief” ... had a change of heart, defended Jesus, and condemned the other thief for his attitude...

    N: This in no way goes against Catholics...NOR does it support SF. The thief really did have a change of heart and do good works.

    R: Jesus didn’t say, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to come down from that cross...

    N: This is a caricature of Catholic teaching and in no way contradicts Catholicism.

    R: These teachings are telling us that His suffering and dying was just not quite enough to pay the penalty for sin.

    N: This is inaccurate for it fails to realize Catholics have a different view of the Cross. Protestants teach (to rescue Sola Fide) that God damned Jesus to Hell in our place with the punishemnt we deserved. The Bible never teaches this blasphemous thing.
    http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2009/04/was-jesus-damned-in-your-place.html

    Here is a debate on Penal Substitution:
    http://sites.google.com/site/catholicdefense/psdebate

    ReplyDelete
  2. R: No, the apostle Paul said:
    “You foolish Galatians...” (Galatians 3:1-3 NASB)

    N: Paul is speaking of the Mosaic Law, you're confusing contexts.

    R: Paul is saying that the thing which has “birthed” us into the body of Christ (faith / trust in Jesus), will be the SAME THING which will MAINTAIN us in our Christian walk. Yes, we will have to endure to the end, but it is the maintaining of our FAITH that brings this about, and works are just a natural by-product of that (true) faith.

    N: Nowhere does Paul teach good works are a 'by-prouduct' of true faith, nor does he teach the Mosaic Law ever saves.

    R: Remember, our good works do please God, and we will be rewarded for our good works, but they are the result, not the cause, of salvation. Faith is what “gets” us saved, and faith is what “keeps” us saved. Not works.

    N: The **problem** is you think "save" only means one thing, it doesn't. Rom 13:11 says: "salvation is NEARER than when we first believed." How? Salvation only happens once, right? Further, Sola Fide doesn't teach faith "keeps" us saved, because salvation is a once and for all decree.

    R: CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT SCRIPTURE TELLS US THAT FAITH, ITSELF, IS A “WORK”, ACCORDING TO JOHN 6:29: "JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THEM, 'THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE ON HIM WHOM HE HATH SENT'.”

    N: Forget this, address Hebrews 11, especially verse 6. There is no misunderstanding that.

    R: However, we don’t believe that Catholics can reconcile their view of “faith plus works” with the context of Romans 3, 4, and 5, which clearly teaches the “Faith Alone” view.

    N: Faith Alone is irreconcilable with Rom 3-5, properly understood. As an example of the types of arguments *I* use and that most Protestants never thought of: Rom 3:21-25 is one of the most critical justification texts out there, yet it makes no mention of Christ's "active obedience," and puts the grounds only on His "passive obedience." Anyone who understands this subject will see the huge problem for SF, and I extend this to note that never is Christ's "Active Obedience" taught in Scripture.

    R: Galatians
    Probably the most devastating argument in the Bible against the “faith plus works” concept can be found in the book of Galatians. ...
    Paul’s whole point was that they were (wrongly) adding to the work of the cross. They were teaching salvation by their works IN ADDITION TO faith in the cross...

    N: No. The Judaizers were confusing covenants, thinking salvation was attached to the Mosaic Covenant. It was never about "works in general". Gal 3B clearly teaches that the Mosaic Law never could save, even if kept perfectly.

    R: Examples
    Finally, we have actual examples of people who were saved by faith, apart from their works.
    Romans 4:2-3 tells us that Abraham (who lived before the Mosaic Law)

    N: Explain how Abraham obeyed God before Gen 15:6, because Sola Fide cannot.

    (2 of 3)

    ReplyDelete
  3. R: The story of the offerings of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-5), the first sons of Adam, is very revealing to us, and relevant to this topic. It demonstrates the fact that, since the beginning, God never intended that man’s works would ever contribute to his salvation. Both Cain and Abel brought a sacrifice to God: Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground (i.e., the labor of his hands), while Abel brought an innocent animal, an unblemished victim, of his flock. And of course, the Bible tells us that God accepted Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s. Cain’s offering is man’s first recorded attempt to earn salvation.

    N: That's not quite right, and in fact very presumptuous. There is some truth, but also much error. For example, the Bible clearly describes Abel's faithful obedience as what saved him Heb 11:1,4,6. Cain was simply a sinner and murderer.
    Hebrews 11:4 is especially problematic to Sola Fide, for it says: "By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous"
    It says Abel was accepted because he did a pleasing act before God and that this showed Abel was a righteous man! The exact opposite of SF which states faith is like an 'empty hand' and of no meritorious value and that man is unrighteous and so must receive alien righteousness!

    R: Cain’s offering was rejected for the same reason that the fig leaves were taken away from his parents, and replaced with animal skins (Genesis 3:7, 21). That is, an innocent one had to shed his blood and die to cover their nakedness.

    N: You're taking liberties with the text. No mention of "innocent blood had to be shed" is mentioned, you're reading that into the text. Abel offered/killed an animal but had nothing to do with "innocent blood shed", only an aroma pleasing to God (a good work).

    R: Once again, if man is saved by “faith plus works,” then why didn’t God just ADD the animal skins to the fig leaves?

    N: You're kidding me, I can't believe how much you're reading into the text things that are not there.

    R: CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT WHAT ABOUT VERSES LIKE PHILIPPIANS 2:12, WHICH SAYS TO “WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING”? DOESN’T THIS MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO WORK TO BE JUSTIFIED?

    N: Yes, it means that...but not in the way you're thinking.

    R: No, Paul is talking about the outworking, or the “living out” of our salvation. Once again, the context is not “how to be saved,” but Paul is describing the glorious Second Person of the Trinity, what He gave up for us, and how we should live, in light of that. It’s not about doing works in order to obtain our salvation, but it’s about our time of growth, our sanctification.

    N: You're saying it's about sanctification rather than salvation, but that's reading into the text.
    The text and context is about persevering in good works to be saved.

    R: Catholics speak of their works being done in a “state of grace.” That is, if one does good works in this state of grace, his works will then count toward his salvation. According to them, God still gets the credit, since HE gave them the ability to do the good works in the first place. Therefore, it is “all God,” they say. And since God does these grace-infused works through us, He is glorified when we are justified through those works, right?

    N: This is accurate of what Catholics teach (and what we believe the Bible teaches).

    R: Someone once said that people who think that these ‘grace-infused works’ will save them, will either:
    1) downplay God’s demand for PERFECTION, or
    2) exaggerate on their OWN righteousness
    I happen to agree with that. None of us are perfect in our good works, so we must trust in that perfect work of Jesus and HIS righteousness, not ours.

    N: Happening to agree with something that is in fact untrue is irrelevant.

    (1 of 3)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Nick,

    (Part 1 of 2)

    Concerning the offerings of Cain and Abel, you said that Hebrews 11:1, 4, and 6 “clearly describes Abel’s faithful obedience as what saved him”:

    11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    11:4 - By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
    11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    I don’t see your assertion at all in these verses, and nowhere in this chapter does it say that their works of righteousness saved them. This whole chapter is obviously about faith. Clearly, their works sprang from their faith in God, and it was faith that enabled each one of those Bible heroes to do what he did. That’s what we’ve been saying all along. Yes, each person in this chapter did good works, but they were made righteous by their faith, not their works. Notice v. 7:

    “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became HEIR OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH.”


    You said:

    “R: Cain’s offering was rejected for the same reason that the fig leaves were taken away from his parents, and replaced with animal skins (Genesis 3:7, 21). That is, an innocent one had to shed his blood and die to cover their nakedness.

    N: You're taking liberties with the text. No mention of "innocent blood had to be shed" is mentioned, you're reading that into the text. Abel offered/killed an animal but had nothing to do with "innocent blood shed", only an aroma pleasing to God (a good work).”

    Nick, do you see no connection here at all to Jesus? Do you really think that this was not a reference to the cross, and had nothing to do with innocent blood? If every other animal sacrifice in the Old Testament points to Christ, why doesn’t Abel’s? According to the online “New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia,” “…there is no doubt that the sacrifices of the Old Testament…point to the sacrifice of the Cross as their eventual fulfillment.” So, Abel’s offering is clearly a type and shadow of Calvary. To say that this points to the cross is perfectly legitimate typology. I don’t believe that I am taking liberties at all in saying this.

    But, just for the record, if you want to see “typology gone wild,” just look at Catholic websites describing Mary as the “Ark of the New Covenant” or as the “Second Eve,” and you’ll see some real eisegesis (i.e., reading something into the context that isn’t there). Now, this doesn’t give me or anyone else a license to handle a text sloppily, but I find it interesting that some Catholics would point the finger at someone else for “taking liberties” with typology.

    (CONTINUED)

    ReplyDelete
  5. (Part 2 of 2)

    You said:

    “R: Jesus also told the story of the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector) in Luke 18:9-14.

    N: Note that they BOTH believed in God already (thus this was not a 'conversion'), the difference was humility, not 'faith alone'.”

    On what do you base your assertion that they both believed in God? The Pharisee’s “belief in God” was empty because his HEART was not right with God. The point is that the Pharisee trusted in his works, and the publican didn’t. In this context, “trusted in themselves” and “treat with contempt” both come from pride. And pride tends to creep in more easily with the “not-so-empty hand” of “faith plus works.” The system of “faith alone” is a surrender, a cessation of trying to earn Heaven, and is more conducive to humility than the Catholic system.


    You said:

    “R: And of course, we have the classic example of someone saved by faith alone: the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43) ... the “good thief” ... had a change of heart, defended Jesus, and condemned the other thief for his attitude...

    N: This in no way goes against Catholics...NOR does it support SF. The thief really did have a change of heart and do good works.”

    Nick, what good works did he do which are necessary for salvation under the New Testament?


    You said:

    “R: Jesus didn’t say, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to come down from that cross...

    N: This is a caricature of Catholic teaching and in no way contradicts Catholicism.”

    Is it a caricature of Catholic teaching to say that one must be baptized to be saved? Then how could he be baptized when he was on the cross?


    You said:

    “R: These teachings are telling us that His suffering and dying was just not quite enough to pay the penalty for sin.

    N: This is inaccurate for it fails to realize Catholics have a different view of the Cross. Protestants teach (to rescue Sola Fide) that God damned Jesus to Hell in our place with the punishemnt we deserved. The Bible never teaches this blasphemous thing.”

    I agree that the Bible does not teach that. But I do believe that it is also blasphemous to think that we can add our works / suffering to the cross to “supplement” Jesus’ work.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Russell,

    (1) Re: Heb 11:1,4,6.
    My point wasn't about "works of righteousness," but rather that faith itself was a righteous act. Faith is not an 'empty hand' (i.e. no intrinsic value before God) by any means.


    (2) Re: Cain's offering and fig leaves.
    I am not saying Christ was not prefigured in any given OT event or sacrifice, only that your version and understanding of things was done by taking liberties with the text. The notion of "innocent blood shed" (in substitution) is not a theme or factor. Sacrifice, yes, innocent blood shed, no.


    (3) Re: Pharisee vs. Tax Collector.
    You said: "On what do you base your assertion that they both believed in God?" The fact the story starts off "they both went to the temple to pray" their daily prayers. The story had nothing to do with 'unbelief'; they were both Jews. The fact neither heart was right with God has no bearing on whether they had faith or not. The theme is humility, and humility is the basis for justification in this text. That is the *explicit* teaching.


    (4) Re: Thief on the Cross.
    You asked: "Nick, what good works did he do which are necessary for salvation under the New Testament?"

    He believed in Christ and showed Christian repentance and Christian love. And it wasn't so much a matter of following a check list or even doing physical acts, but the real desire in his heart. The true desire to do God's will (including receiving sacraments) can confer the same benefits; this is *explicit* Catholic *dogma*.


    (5) Re: “supplementing” Jesus’ work.
    Catholics do no such thing, the problem is we see the Cross differently. From the Protestant perspective, Catholics "supplement" because they teach Jesus received the very punishment the elect deserved (including and especially hellfire).

    So then, gaze at the heavenly picture of Christ, who descended into hell for your sake and was forsaken by God as one eternally damned when he spoke the words on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!” - “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In that picture your hell is defeated and your uncertain election is made sure. (Luther, Martin. “Treatise on Preparing to Die.”)

    I think your stance on Sola Fide will begin to dwindle if you realize the problem with Christ's Active and Passive Obedience, neither of which are biblical.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nick,

    (Part 1 of 2)

    You said:

    “(1) Re: Heb 11:1,4,6.
    My point wasn't about ‘works of righteousness,’ but rather that faith itself was a righteous act.”


    No, faith is a state of the heart that prompts one to do righteous acts… or at least gives him the desire to do them.


    You said:

    “(2) Re: Cain's offering and fig leaves.
    I am not saying Christ was not prefigured in any given OT event or sacrifice, only that your version and understanding of things was done by taking liberties with the text. The notion of ‘innocent blood shed’ (in substitution) is not a theme or factor. Sacrifice, yes, innocent blood shed, no.”


    If you allow for the possibility of Christ prefigured in any given Old Testament sacrifice (such as Abel’s), then you cannot deny the shedding of innocent blood in Abel’s sacrifice… unless you want to deny that Christ’s blood was innocent. “Innocent blood shed” is a factor in EVERY animal sacrifice, because they all pointed to the totally innocent Substitute (Jesus Christ). You can’t separate an Old Testament animal “sacrifice” from “shedding innocent blood,” or else the typology is meaningless.


    You said:

    (3) Re: Pharisee vs. Tax Collector.
    You said: "On what do you base your assertion that they both believed in God?" The fact the story starts off "they both went to the temple to pray" their daily prayers. The story had nothing to do with 'unbelief'; they were both Jews. The fact neither heart was right with God has no bearing on whether they had faith or not. The theme is humility, and humility is the basis for justification in this text. That is the *explicit* teaching.

    Several things: Just because a person is a Jew, or prays in the temple (even daily), doesn’t mean he is a true believer. Second, Jesus often accused the Pharisees of hard hearts and unbelief, and this one seems to be no different. Third, are you saying that the “rightness of the heart” has no bearing on the presence of faith? How can you say this when it is faith that makes one a believer?

    You’re trying to use humility here as though it were some kind of “work”… it is not a work, but simply a state of the HEART.

    Jesus was speaking of those who trusted in themselves, thinking that they were RIGHTEOUS (Luke 18:9). This is about justification. One trusted in God, the other in his works. One was justified and the other was not. So, it’s really hard to say that this parable is NOT about conversion, salvation and forgiveness.

    ReplyDelete
  8. (Part 2 of 2)

    You said:

    (4) Re: Thief on the Cross.
    You asked: "Nick, what good works did he do which are necessary for salvation under the New Testament?"

    He believed in Christ and showed Christian repentance and Christian love. And it wasn't so much a matter of following a check list or even doing physical acts, but the real desire in his heart. The true desire to do God's will (including receiving sacraments) can confer the same benefits; this is *explicit* Catholic *dogma*.


    Yes, I agree that God looks at the heart. That’s what I’ve been saying all along. It’s not the good works that save, but the person’s heart (i.e., his faith / trust in the work of Jesus).


    You said:

    “(5) Re: “supplementing” Jesus’ work.
    Catholics do no such thing, the problem is we see the Cross differently. From the Protestant perspective, Catholics "supplement" because they teach Jesus received the very punishment the elect deserved (including and especially hellfire).


    As I said before, I don’t believe in the “Jesus was punished in Hell” theory. We don’t need to believe that to believe in “Sola Fide.” Regardless, supplementing, or adding to, Christ’s work with your own works is exactly what Catholics do. And this is an insult to the Savior.

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    1. Russell:

      "...Not by faith only...(James 2:24)...Not by works of righteousness which we have done...(Titus 3:5)..." Hence, Atheism

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  9. Hello Russell,

    Do you think that John 6:53-57 is evidence for salvation apart from works? After all, the context of John chapter six is all about coming to Christ and believing on Him for eternal salvation (John 6:35-40 and John 6:47-48).

    Jesse

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  10. Hello Jesse,

    How’s it going?

    You asked about John 6:53-57 and whether it supports salvation apart from works.

    I really never saw “Faith Alone” in this passage. Maybe someone could expound this in a way that could be interpreted to support Sola Fide, but I don’t see it. I believe that there are much better passages we could use to support it.

    Also, another possible problem would be to take Jesus’ words here in a literal sense, as Catholics do. If we would try to use this for “Faith Alone,” they could say that the actual ceremony or ritual that we call “Communion” / “breaking bread” is actually a work. And it is. So I think it might cause more questions or problems, rather than clarify things.

    But anyway, keep studying. I’m glad to see you in the Word!


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  11. If I cannot do good works to get saved, then how can I do bad works to be unsaved?

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  12. Hello Anonymous,

    It is not bad works that get you “unsaved.” Losing your salvation is not caused by a single act or bad work. It is generally a slow process of the heart becoming harder and harder over time. The bad works are simply the EVIDENCE of a lost or declining faith, not the CAUSE of it. In either case, God looks at the heart.

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    1. What about King David (1 Cor. 6:9-10)?

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  13. Greetings Anonymous,

    Concerning King David, I am assuming that you are referring to his sins of adultery and murder. But notice what Jesus said about these two sins:

    “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; And whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22 - NASV)

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28 - NASV)

    This whole context (v. 21-48) is about following the spirit of the law, and not just the letter of the law. It is saying that God looks not just at our acts, but at our HEARTS.

    From God’s perspective, a person is not a murderer because he has killed someone… but rather, he has killed someone because he is already a murderer at heart. And a person is not an adulterer because he has committed adultery… but the reason he has committed adultery is because he is already an adulterer at heart.

    So, again, God looks at the heart of the person. And, concerning your passage above (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), the unrighteous are the ones who PRACTICE those things listed. And the reason that they practice those things is because their hearts are dedicated to those sins. Their practicing of those sins is the EVIDENCE of what’s in their heart. David did not “practice” adultery or murder of innocent people, he merely “fell into” those sins in a moment of weakness. The way that David escaped the wrath of God was by repenting from the heart.

    And for the record, regarding how a man is saved, Paul emphasizes that David, also, was saved by faith APART FROM his good works (Romans 4:4-6).

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  14. Russell,

    Check out this powerful refutation of Sola Fide and tell me what you think:
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/06/raiders-of-lost-marian-ark.html

    Enjoy!

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  15. Hello Anonymous,

    The link you provided has nothing whatsoever to do with Sola Fide.

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