Sunday reflection: John 3:16-18

posted at 10:01 am on June 15, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussionPrevious Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is John 3:16-18:

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:16 is perhaps the most widely recognized verses in the New Testament. The most substantive reason for its resonance is because it encapsulates the final phase of God’s plan of salvation for all humanity in a single sentence, which acts as its own declaration of faith for believers. The other reason flows from its utter simplicity, which allows Christians to use this verse in all sorts of ways to spread the Gospel, including the display of the chapter and verse reference on placards and other items at public events, especially sporting events. Tim Tebow even wore eye-black patches at the University of Florida with the reference, which not only gained notoriety but prompted (minimal) exegesis in some unusual places.

There is much more going on in John 3 and our other readings today, though, than just the familiar quote from Jesus.  In this chapter, John recounts a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin who had sympathy for Jesus and his message of salvation through repentance. Nicodemus came out to meet Jesus and the disciples after reports of the miracles Jesus had performed, hoping to gain some insight into His teachings.

Jesus at first tries to explain that Israel needs a spiritual rebirth: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, though, understands rebirth only in a physical sense: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus then marvels that this concept could escape someone who is a “teacher of Israel,” and tries to explain the difference between the flesh and the spirit, which loses Nicodemus a second time.

This might be easy for us to miss, but this would have been a relatively revolutionary concept for the people of Israel at that time. They felt that they belonged to God through birthright as descendants of Abraham. While they certainly understood about sin and repentance — the Pharisees in particular — they would have balked at the notion that they needed a rebirth of any kind to enter into God’s favor.  All that was necessary, most would have thought, would be to be an Israelite who keeps the letter of the law. John the Baptist addressed this same issue at another time, in Matthew 3:7-10 (also Luke 3:7-9), when he warned the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to watch his baptisms:

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.["]

The concept and need for spiritual rebirth would have been much more foreign to Nicodemus than to us, and perhaps more so still for other members of the Sanhedrin class in Israel. The need for such a rebirth would undermine their claim for authority, and especially their claim to be learned in the ways of God, on which that authority rested.

In both of these passages, the clear exhortation is for repentance. John the Baptist explicitly calls for repentance and spiritual rebirth rather than just a genealogical claim on inheritance. Jesus speaks more analogically with Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, just before today’s Gospel reading: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Moses lifted up the serpent staff in the wilderness to heal those afflicted by snakebites from a punishment sent by God for Israel’s lack of faith in Numbers 21. When their faith turned back to God and they prayed for relief, God instructed Moses to make a staff with a “fiery serpent” on it so that those who repented of their sins might be healed.

Immediately following that passage, Jesus then explains that He is the new and complete healing for the world in John 3:16-18. In order to have a part in eternal life, simply being a physical descendant of Abraham will not be enough. People will need to form themselves spiritually through faith in God and belief in His Son, who brings healing and light into the world. In the final three verses of this conversation with Nicodemus, which are not included in today’s reading, Jesus makes the analogy of Himself as healer and light even more clear:

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

The movement from darkness into light means spiritual rebirth and repentance for one’s sins, along with a true change in life that reflects this rebirth and faith. That message is emphasized in our other readings today. In Exodus 34:4-9, the Lord passes by Moses when he brings the stone tablets up Mount Sinai. Moses begs God to come along in their company, lamenting the “stiff-necked people” of Israel but praying for God’s forgiveness for their “wickedness and sins.” Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 13:11-13) that spiritual rebirth on its own isn’t sufficient either. “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you,” Paul writes to the already-converted in Corinth, who have accepted Jesus Christ as savior but still struggle with the faith in practice. The path from darkness into light is a long one, fraught with the danger of backsliding.

Earlier, I noted that the concept of spiritual rebirth would have seemed foreign to Nicodemus, given the common understanding of God’s plan for Israel at the time. Is that so different than our own personal understanding in this age, though? At times in my life, I want to shrug off the responsibility that spiritual renewal puts in my life. “Hey, I didn’t break any commandments this week, Lord,” I want to say, “so I’m off the hook for prayer and reflection, right?” I’m sure I’m not alone in understanding and relating to the struggles that Augustine had before accepting his conversion to the faith, even though I already share that faith. The wish that we can get a pass from taking that daily journey from darkness into the light can be powerfully attractive. Isn’t it enough that I got baptized and confirmed? Can’t I just take the next 50 years off?

Well … no, but active love and faith in the Lord have their own rewards. His yoke is light, Jesus reminds us elsewhere, and He has already done the really heavy lifting in his death and resurrection. And we know that the work has succeeded, too, for God so loved the world — and each of us individually — that He gave His only Son so that those who believe will not perish but have eternal life.  Jesus does not bring condemnation but restoration. The crucified Jesus is the new staff of healing, raised in the wilderness of this world, so that all those who suffer in sin may be cleansed and restored to true life. All we need to do is to repent of our sins, and lift each other up so that all may see that staff in the wilderness.

 

The front page image is of the altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over Golgotha, the site of the Crucifixion, from my own personal collection.


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Comment pages: 1 2

The path from darkness into light is a long one, fraught with the danger of backsliding.

Yes. Thankfully, He’s patient.

dogsoldier on June 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Nicely written. One of your best reflections, I think.

Kevin K. on June 15, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I think they’re trying to sell ” Lois Lerner’s dog ate the emails. And then Obama ate the dog.” Blaming a video has already been used.

t on June 15, 2014 at 10:28 AM

wrong link….

t on June 15, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Earlier, I noted that the concept of spiritual rebirth would have seemed foreign to Nicodemus, given the common understanding of God’s plan for Israel at the time. Is that so different than our own personal understanding in this age, though? At times in my life, I want to shrug off the responsibility that spiritual renewal puts in my life. “Hey, I didn’t break any commandments this week, Lord,” I want to say, “so I’m off the hook for prayer and reflection, right?” I’m sure I’m not alone in understanding and relating to the struggles that Augustine had before accepting his conversion to the faith, even though I already share that faith. The wish that we can get a pass from taking that daily journey from darkness into the light can be powerfully attractive. Isn’t it enough that I got baptized and confirmed? Can’t I just take the next 50 years off?

Ed–thanks as always. I found this part of your reflection particularly applicable to me for, too often, we fail to reflect on our sins of omission which can be far more consequential in seeking the light.

cthemfly on June 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

thanks Ed,

Happy Fathers Day.

phatfawzi on June 15, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Thank You Ed- A great start to my Father’s. Day.
Wish I had the Pope’s email address and I would send this SR to him, with regard to his latest comment about Atheism.
..
Ann B. is spot on about prayer….. “Prayer is the fuel, our Souls are the power train” – and that’s a daily.

FlaMurph on June 15, 2014 at 11:21 AM

A wonderful reflection on my favorite verse. Today is not only Fathers Day but my son’s 25th birthday. I am so grateful to God for the gift of my son and the wonderful man who is his dad and my husband. More than anything else I am grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Because of that sacrifice I can rejoice that my son, daughter, husband and myself will have everlasting life with the Father in Heaven.

neyney on June 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Read the gospel of Thomas.

John the Libertarian on June 15, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Great post Ed…And Happy Father’s Day to all.

workingclass artist on June 15, 2014 at 1:31 PM

To understand the unity of God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the gentiles, one merely has to understand the Trinity.

Happy Fathers’ Day, all!

unclesmrgol on June 15, 2014 at 1:33 PM

John 3:16-18

Good and powerful verses.

b1jetmech on June 15, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Ed, you do have another calling, indeed.

Happy father’s day to you and all here.

Schadenfreude on June 15, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Too bad for all the good people who died never knowing about Jesus and so forth, or those who loved their parents, (of a different faith), and did not question their religion.

I suppose once they die and go to Purgatory, eventually they can get to Heaven?

antisense on June 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Good article. The only thing I would want to point out is where Christ explains that if you don’t believe in Him, then you are condemned already. That brings to mind the question: Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners? Christ’s words here show the latter. We are lost in our sins already, and God’s grace through our faith in Christ’s redemptive work saves us from being condemned.

HiJack on June 15, 2014 at 1:56 PM

antisense always lives down to its nom.

Schadenfreude on June 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM

antisense always lives down to its nom.

Schadenfreude on June 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Well, maybe so, but it is THE question that is asked by Christians and non-Christians alike when we make this argument. Personally, I don’t think it’s dealt with very well, either. I would be interested to know what your reply would be to it, Schad, but understand that I’m not challenging you.

HiJack on June 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

On faith and father’s day

but understand that I’m not challenging you.

HiJack on June 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

To each their own, but I don’t haggle with people who believe, nor with those who don’t, or believe in whatever they do.

Schadenfreude on June 15, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Too bad for all the good people who died never knowing about Jesus and so forth, or those who loved their parents, (of a different faith), and did not question their religion.

I suppose once they die and go to Purgatory, eventually they can get to Heaven?

antisense on June 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Let’s see — if you know about God, then you know about Jesus, for God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That’s why not one line of the Law got changed by Jesus. God is, if anything, constant.

So, suppose you are in a place which has never heard about God, or Jesus, or anything we Christians and Jews take for granted. There is no baptism, no repentance, no nothing that we know about and take for granted, so to speak. But God hints at how the Judgement goes in such cases:

All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it. For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified. For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.

unclesmrgol on June 15, 2014 at 2:25 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 2:19 PM

I think your scripture quote rejects your argument. Maybe the argument surrounding Romans 2:14 might be more appropriate.

HiJack on June 15, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Schadenfreude on June 15, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Point taken, but how much more comforting after losing a child to know that the child is with God.

HiJack on June 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

crosshugger on June 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

There is NONE righteous, not even one…there is NO ONE who does good, not even one.

(Rom 3:10, 12).

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Contrast that with this:

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. There is no partiality with God.

Implications: Works of faith are important. Faith without works is dead faith.

Not to mention this:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Now, examining your citation of Rom 3, you do realize that Paul is addressing the superiority that Jewish converts to Christianity were feeling concerning their gentile counterparts — they felt they had the inside track, so to speak, by virtue of an act either of their parents or of their own. They furthermore believed that justification came from a single act, much like some Protestants believe that a single act — a spoken belief in God — justifies one. So Paul reaches back into the Psalms to cite Psalm 14 — known to every observant Jew — to point out that even being circumcised — or having been a Jew — is nothing; all are born anew equally in the Lord:

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt;
not one does what is good.

The LORD looks down from heaven
upon the children of men,
To see if even one is wise,
if even one seeks God.

All have gone astray;
all alike are perverse.
Not one does what is good,
not even one.

Will these evildoers never learn?
They devour my people as they devour bread;
they do not call upon the LORD.

They have good reason, then, to fear;
God is with the company of the just.

They would crush the hopes of the poor,
but the poor have the LORD as their refuge.

Oh, that from Zion might come
the salvation of Israel!
Jacob would rejoice, and Israel be glad
when the LORD restores his people!

Context is important.

unclesmrgol on June 15, 2014 at 3:01 PM

I think your scripture quote rejects your argument. Maybe the argument surrounding Romans 2:14 might be more appropriate.

HiJack on June 15, 2014 at 2:26 PM

All of the arguments are identical. We are given that which, were the law strictly applied, ought not to belong to us. We cannot obtain that thing merely by faith, or by works, for we will always fall short. Something else is there to balance the equation: The love and mercy of God, which was shown to us when He become Man, and suffered, died, and was buried so that our sins might be forgiven, and which is given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Not all sins, whether of omission or commission, will be forgiven, for if that were the case, judgement would be meaningless:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’”

and

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

unclesmrgol on June 15, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Wanting to understand your point. Are you saying there is a righteousness before God available to men which earns them eternal life, available apart from faith in Christ?

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Yes. Isn’t that what Romans 2 is saying? That even gentiles (those who have no training or understanding of God as the Chosen do) have “a law for themselves” by which Jesus will judge them.

I have such faith in the love of Jesus that I do not think that some poor slob who grew up in the remote Amazon and who never heard the word “Jesus” in his or her entire life is destined to damnation. When these are before Jesus, what will our Lord say is the thing which damned them? That some evangelist failed to reach them in time? No, I don’t think so, and neither does my Church. I believe it will be how well they observed their own natural law. Jesus died on the Cross for all of us.

Now, that’s a two edged sword. Those of us who are Christian have it even harder, for we HAVE heard the Good News, and we will be judged on how well we observed IT. Indeed, what Paul says to the Jews is true; they know the LAW, and it is by the LAW that they will be judged.

The person who hears what Jesus has said and deliberately turns away will have a very hard time — much harder than the Amazonian Indian who never heard a thing; that’s certainly in Matthew 25.

You can substitute a baby (born or aborted) or infant for the Amazonian Indian and the results I think are identical. My Church thinks so too:

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”

unclesmrgol on June 15, 2014 at 4:10 PM

No, it isn’t. No sinner becomes righteous before God without, apart from or independent of faith in Christ.

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Now, as you have asked me to do, please do youself; back up your statement with Scripture. All of my arguments below proceed from Scripture I’ve cited above, so I will not cite again.

“Faith in Christ” is a human act (Matt 25), and we already have that no human act alone results in rightiousness, but we also find from other Scripture that human acts are essential to Salvation (Romans 2; Matt 7; Ps. 14; James 2).

You can call out “LORD, LORD” all you want, with fervent faith, but what is missing?

As I have already pointed out above, through scripture, faith without works is dead faith. But faith (a human act) is necessary for Salvation; so what is missing is justification through the Holy Spirit. But it appears that, from Matt 25, mere faith is not sufficient.

Is Jesus God? If so, then is not faith in God — however one may think God to be in the absence of Scripture — enough?

If you view Jesus as separate from God — a created being, much as the Jehovah’s Witnesses do — then certainly you can interpret Scripture as you do, for that permits you all sorts of Scriptural malfeasance. But in the moment that you view the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one being — and having been that one being eternally — you can’t. When you view God’s message — in both the Old and New Testaments — as unchanging — then who are the Chosen?

Who are you to limit the modes of Salvation which God makes available? Who are you to damn the aborted baby to hell? Who are you?

unclesmrgol on June 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Nicodemus, though, understands rebirth only in a physical sense

I’d disagree, Ed. Nicodemus wasn’t a moron or trolling Jesus with this question. You hit upon the key in your preceding sentence:

Jesus at first tries to explain that Israel needs a spiritual rebirth

This was two Jewish rabbis talking about the the direction of their Jewish faith. i.e., “to we start from scratch, rewrite our past?” is what Nicodemus is asking there.

whatcat on June 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM

“Saving” faith is not something you do, it is something you have.

As soon as you have saving faith, you are saved and several things obtain: regeneration, justification, adoption, etc., AND that faith that you have will result in good works as James explains.

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM

How does a lost sinner become righteous before God and receive eternal life without faith in Christ as the propitiation for his sin?

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 5:13 PM

He doesn’t.

I ask for the sake of discussion (and because I’d like to know), How much does the sinner have to know about Jesus, and does the sinner even have to know Jesus’ name?

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 5:20 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

First part is the Lordship issue. The second part is the ontological issue.

If I were a native in darkest Africa, and the law written on my heart convicts me, and I have accepted the message which pours forth day-by-day, and I say something like this: “I know that someone greater than myself and all creation exists, and my conscience tells me that I have missed the mark, so whomever that is that exists, can you save me from myself?”

Am I saved?

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 6:06 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM

That is my understanding–if someone cries out to God, then God will somehow get the gospel to him.

But the question I ponder, and which gives rise to my initial question, is how much do we need to know about the Infinite God, Jesus, to be saved?

“This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.”

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 6:47 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Agreed.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Corollary: How much did the thief on the cross know?

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 6:50 PM

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Wouldn’t the eventual revelation inherent in the gospel be enough ??

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Corollary: How much did the thief on the cross know?

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Enough to call Him Lord, no ?

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 6:53 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Understood, but what I’m trying to say is that if no human missionary finds such a person, and the Spirit himself answers his prayer, it surely WOULD be complete, and with great power, yes ?
Sufficient for salvation ?
(Once believed, accepted )

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 7:12 PM

I probably shouldn’t persue such glorious subjects while cooking …. Might not make myself very clear, sorry.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 7:14 PM

But what degree of knowing?

The underlying point is those of us who know God through the preaching of the Word and a lifetime of Biblical study really know very little. Indeed, how long will it take for a finite mind come to know a infinite God? How much knowing is enough?

I know the answers. But if the hypothetical non-evangelized is ministered to by the Holy Spirit, like pambi suggested, is that enough? On the surface the answer seems to be no.

I am getting back into Dallas Willard. He has approached this topic.

What’s for supper, pambi?

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 7:29 PM

What’s for supper, pambi?
davidk on June 15, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Hubby’s requested FD vittles .. Grilled steak, corn, taters. Yum.
:-)
I am familiar with several folks who’ve been ‘evangelized’ by no one other than the Spirit Himself, and believe me, they are not only saved, they are SOLD OUT.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 7:59 PM

*with the exception of Saul/Paul, and that was a unique case in all of history.

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 7:54 PM

Why a unique case ??

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:01 PM

*with the exception of Saul/Paul, and that was a unique case in all of history.

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 7:54 PM

Why a unique case ??

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:01 PM

As far as I can tell, Paul is the only person who was possibly saved as a result of a revelation of the of Jesus’ Glory.

The rest of us as a result of a recognition of our need.

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 8:06 PM

That I know of, no.
Russian refugees, in the 80s, 90s … they THEN struggled to get even the tiniest sliver of the scripture to comfort them.
They wanted to share the Good News with US !!!

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:07 PM

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Ok, as written, fine.
I just cannot side with such an event being unique in all of history, is all.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

I hope that seems fair enough?

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Yep.

davidk on June 15, 2014 at 8:22 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Oh, yes, most absolutely fair.
Please do not derive any animosity from this end, honest.

Your hesitancy is truly one based in wisdom, too.
As He’s told me, when I began to look around and lose all delusion concerning the faithfulness of His body (at that time) … “Many have lost connection with the Head. They preach from themselves, and spread this disease, as though they (and their hearers) are paralyzed (as in a spinal cord injury). They cannot even discern this fatal infection.”
How shall I pray, Lord ???
“That I rise with healing !!”

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:29 PM

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 8:42 PM

You can ask Him.
He’ll either verify or deny.
Have a great evening.
Been a pleasure, honestly.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:45 PM

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 8:45 PM
P.S.
I LOVE it when He answers those questions, always with scripture.
Trust Him.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Life, physical and spiritual, is the gift of God.

Spiritual life – that rebirth which Jesus speaks of in John 3 – is breathed into the child of God by His Spirit, and is manifested in Salvation and all that attends it, faith, confession, repentance, justification, and glorification, etc.

Any doctrine that says man MUST do something – anything – in order to then become saved is a doctrine of works, no matter the rhetorical twists and turns to say otherwise.

The child of God will confess Jesus as Lord, will confess and repent of his sins, will in faith trust God to keep him and bring him to glory. These all flow from the life breathed into him by the actions of God alone.

questionmark on June 15, 2014 at 9:59 PM

questionmark on June 15, 2014 at 9:59 PM

Well stated.
All in all.

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Thank you, Ed. As someone said earlier, you surely have an additional calling.

tngmv on June 15, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Sinners in the hands of an indifferent God.

tenore on June 15, 2014 at 11:41 PM

Sinners in the hands of an indifferent God.

tenore on June 15, 2014 at 11:41 PM

I’ll be prayin fer ya.
;-)

pambi on June 16, 2014 at 12:02 AM

How does a lost sinner become righteous before God and receive eternal life without faith in Christ as the propitiation for his sin?

S.P. Link on June 15, 2014 at 5:13 PM

I have answered you, but you do not want to accept my answer, so you ask again.

ALL have sinned. ALL are lost without action by God. Jesus told his Disciples — and us — that in the aftermath of the encounter with the rich young man. Romans 2 answers you with regard to modality of Salvation, and yet what it says is completely lost in your belief that it is necessary to “know Jesus” or “have faith in Jesus” for Salvation. You have this little checklist, and if every jot and tittle of that checklist is followed, you are Saved. But there’s that nittering little thought which you quickly put out of your mind — that some native of the Amazon, who has never heard the word “Jesus” might be Saved, but you, who have said “LORD, LORD” over and over again might not be. Impossible, you say.

Well, all things are possible with God — both your Salvation and the Salvation of that native.

I say to you that JESUS is GOD, as the FATHER is GOD, as the HOLY SPIRIT is GOD. It is GOD who will judge the aborted baby (you didn’t answer that one did you?), and it is GOD who will judge the Amazonian native who has never heard the word “Jesus”. He will judge you and me,

Oh ye of little faith! God punishes us for sins which we knowingly commit. He will not punish us for anything else, for sin requires volition.

unclesmrgol on June 16, 2014 at 12:14 AM

Any doctrine that says man MUST do something – anything – in order to then become saved is a doctrine of works, no matter the rhetorical twists and turns to say otherwise.

The child of God will confess Jesus as Lord, will confess and repent of his sins, will in faith trust God to keep him and bring him to glory. These all flow from the life breathed into him by the actions of God alone.

questionmark on June 15, 2014 at 9:59 PM

Again, Scripture disagrees with you.

James 2:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Romans 2:

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. There is no partiality with God.

So, faith is not sufficient in and of itself. It can become dead. How does one nurture faith, and thus warrant the grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit?

You evangelicals have a seminal act which you think does the trick, but it doesn’t, for man will always fall short. Both of those passages above indicate that the path to Salvation is, for the general person, a continuous one, which really does require, not a seminal act, but a continuum of acts. You can have all the faith in the world, but if you skimp even on one act, you have no choice but to throw yourself at the end of your life upon the mercy of our Lord. And he’s got an interesting position on this, one outlined in the matter of the rich young man, and still another here in Matthew 25, which are two sides of the same coin:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Hmm. Sounds like a bit more than faith is required, for faith will have you pray “LORD, LORD” a million times, but apparently something a bit stronger is needed to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe those who have no clothing, welcome the stranger etc etc etc. I submit that Scripture gives you the answer: works. You’ll note that Jesus doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit will motivate you to do those works; no, their presence or absence is credited or debited from YOU. You cannot blame the Holy Spirit for failing to have you do the proper works; you can only blame yourself.

That is the lesson of the thief on the cross — the one who believes, and then proceeds to act upon his belief in ways which stand unsullied for the rest of his life — he states right out loud his acknowledgement of his sins, and his repentance of them, and furthermore his belief in Jesus. There is no Holy Spirit manifesting itself to this man and making him speak — it is Jesus Himself visibly hanging on the center cross which moves him to speak. Jesus would not reward an action of the Holy Spirit — He rewards the actions of the man himself by assuring him of Salvation. Left unsaid is what happened to the other thief on the cross; we have our assumptions, but no certainty.

Now, what happens when you affirm your faith, and yet fail to act in ways which make it alive? Dead faith — that’s what you have.

unclesmrgol on June 16, 2014 at 12:47 AM

Understood, but what I’m trying to say is that if no human missionary finds such a person, and the Spirit himself answers his prayer, it surely WOULD be complete, and with great power, yes ?
Sufficient for salvation ?
(Once believed, accepted )

pambi on June 15, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Quite clear enough for me. It’s probably the first time we’ve nearly agreed on anything.

But what if the person does know know about praying, or about the nature of God, or the Law, or Scripture, and merely orders his or her life around trying very hard to follow what the natural law says is good, and to avoid doing what the natural law says is bad? What if they feed the hungry, cloth the cold, welcome the stranger, try their best not to steal or to murder or to dishonor their parents….what if they truly love life and others around them?

What will Jesus do when he Judges such a person?

Romans 2 tells us. If you don’t know the Law, or Scripture, you are judged on the natural law which you do know and observe. The flip side is that if you do know these things (the Law/Scripture), and know what they are, and what you must do or not do to follow them (including the respect you must have for God), you will indeed be judged by their observance. Now, can any of us measure up to what Scripture tells us is to be done? No, we can not. But we must try, continuously, nonetheless — that is what Matthew 25 tells us.

unclesmrgol on June 16, 2014 at 1:03 AM

unclesmrgol on June 16, 2014 at 12:47 AM

James is speaking experientially whereas Paul speaks positionally.

The first 11 chapters of Romans is a progression. Paul is certainly quite correct that if you obey the Law then you will be saved. But as James wrote, “For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.”

Jesus was perfect in keeping the Law, and only those who are, by faith alone, in Christ, and have had the righteousness of God imputed to them, are considered by God to be perfect.

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:59 AM

unclesmrgol on June 16, 2014 at 1:03 AM

But what if the person does know know about praying, or about the nature of God,

“For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.”

But what if the person does know know about praying, or about the nature of God, or the Law, or Scripture, and merely orders his or her life around trying very hard to follow what the natural law says is good, and to avoid doing what the natural law says is bad? What if they feed the hungry, cloth the cold, welcome the stranger, try their best not to steal or to murder or to dishonor their parents….what if they truly love life and others around them?

What will Jesus do when he Judges such a person?

“… as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.

There is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away;

all alike have become useless.

There is no one who does what is good,

not even one.”

None of us has fulfilled the Law. Even our own law.

Set up an ethical system for yourself. Write your own rules. Make it easy; make it hard. You will not be able to follow perfectly your own rules. You condemn yourself.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law?, By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 7:23 AM

Salvation is worth working for. It is worth a man’s going round the world on his hands and knees, climbing its mountains, crossing its valleys, swimming its rivers, going through all manner of hardship in order to attain it. But we do not get it in that way. It is to him who believes.~D. L. Moody

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 7:33 AM

Mr. Morrissey, you’ve missed the mark:

Earlier, I noted that the concept of spiritual rebirth would have seemed foreign to Nicodemus, given the common understanding of God’s plan for Israel at the time. Is that so different than our own personal understanding in this age, though? At times in my life, I want to shrug off the responsibility that spiritual renewal puts in my life. “Hey, I didn’t break any commandments this week, Lord,” I want to say, “so I’m off the hook for prayer and reflection, right?” I’m sure I’m not alone in understanding and relating to the struggles that Augustine had before accepting his conversion to the faith, even though I already share that faith. The wish that we can get a pass from taking that daily journey from darkness into the light can be powerfully attractive. Isn’t it enough that I got baptized and confirmed? Can’t I just take the next 50 years off?

The problem was, Nicodemus, like the rest of the leadership of the Jews (and most of the “ordinary” people) should have known this, and didn’t. They had ditched the new birth in Christ in favor of works for salvation:

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? (John 3:9-10, KJV)

It is really “funny” that Moses knew about the new birth, but almost no one in his day listened either:

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26, KJV)

And then there is this one:

The wish that we can get a pass from taking that daily journey from darkness into the light can be powerfully attractive.

If you have to make that “daily journey from darkness into the light” then you are in deep trouble.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12, KJV)

That “journey” is a “once for all event:”

For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:7-11, KJV)

And it is clarified in I John, chapter 3:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9, KJV)

And in Galatians 2:20:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:20-21)

But I think the problem is that you believe that spiritual rebirth is your responsibility:

People will need to form themselves spiritually through faith in God and belief in His Son, who brings healing and light into the world.

That isn’t your (mine or anyone else’s) responsibility. In fact, we cannot perform that spiritual new birth. Only the Holy Ghost does that:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13, KJV)

And again:

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7, KJV)

Please note, you cannot mix works and grace. They are mutually exclusive:

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Romans 11:5-6, KJV)

So the washing of regeneration is NOT water baptism.

I do pray you get it right. it would be much better for you.

pdavisnwa on June 16, 2014 at 9:01 AM

I do pray you get it right. it would be much better for you.

pdavisnwa on June 16, 2014 at 9:01 AM

“… but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, … .

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 12:03 PM

pdavisnwa on June 16, 2014 at 9:01 AM

I do not recall anything that would indicate that Moses knew about and understood the concept of new birth. Indeed, Peter seems to say that the Old Testament prophets (in which group I would place Moses, although we tend to think of him as just the Law giver) did not understand.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings, and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

You have an Arminian/Wesleyan feel about you. ?

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

????

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

I take this as a provocation toward love and good works (Heb 10:24), realized through an apprehension among the believers, corporately and individually, of the following verse 13, …for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

questionmark on June 16, 2014 at 1:11 PM

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Not Arminian, nor Calvinist (Augustinian Predestination). There is a middle ground (the same that William Tyndale held) that is the doctrine of Scripture.

The gospel, is the gospel, meaning that “good news” has never changed. Along with that, the means by which one is made righteous in the sight of the LORD God has never changed.

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:5-9, KJV)

Please note who the “them” are in the following passage from Hebrews 4:

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:1-2, KJV)

Chapter 3 of Hebrews is express that the “them” is the children of Israel in the wilderness – which exhibited no faith, as they would not hear the word of the LORD:

And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. (Deuteronomy 32:19-20, KJV)

But I digress a touch. Returning to the collective witness of Noah, Abel, Job and David, we can see that it is by grace through faith, even as it is now:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8, KJV)

Grace is grace — and Noah received grace from the LORD. As Romans 11:6 tells us, if it is grace (unmerited favor), it is not of works (performance for merit or approval), otherwise, grace (unmerited favor) ceases to be grace (unmerited favor), and if you are going to do it by works (performance for merit or approval), then it cannot be of unmerited favor (grace), otherwise, performance for merit or approval (work) is not performance for merit or approval (work).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV)

And so we see with Abel, although grace is not spoken of, it is there with faith:

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. (Hebrews 11:4, KJV)

Even as Job also testified of his Redeemer:

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:23-27, KJV)

Interestingly enough, Job also testified of the resurrection in the above passage, but I digress.

And, last, of the testimony of David:

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (Psalm 32:1-2, KJV)

Which is quoted in Romans:

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:3-8, KJV)

Though not expressly stated in the Old Testament, the new birth in Christ is there. The words of the Lord Jesus Christ so state when He told Nicodemus at the end of telling him about the new birth:

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? (John 3:1-10, KJV)

pdavisnwa on June 16, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Not Arminian, nor Calvinist (Augustinian Predestination). There is a middle ground (the same that William Tyndale held) that is the doctrine of Scripture.
pdavisnwa on June 16, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Are you willing to flesh out that middle ground; to delineate how and where you view these two positions to fall short?

questionmark on June 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Are you willing to flesh out that middle ground; to delineate how and where you view these two positions to fall short?

questionmark on June 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM

I will try to be as succinct as possible.

The Arminian position is relatively easy. There is one point in which the Arminian is egregiously wrong. It is a real killer for their doctrine. The points of Arminus are as follows:

1. election (and condemnation on the day of judgment) was conditioned by the rational faith or nonfaith of man;
2. the Atonement, while qualitatively adequate for all men, was efficacious only for the man of faith;
3. unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person is able to respond to God’s will;
4. grace is not irresistible; and
5. believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.

Most of their points are relatively correct, but not entirely. The whole idea of resisting or not resisting grace is, well, corrupt is the mildest term I can have for it. The issue of the election of grace is wrongly put in both Calvinist and Arminian writings. However, it is imperative to note that Arminian doctrine comes about as a response to Calvinist doctrine, and suffers accordingly.

But, the real error in Arminian doctrine is point 5:

“believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.”

Uh, NO. Absolutely not. This statement flies in the face of so many plain passages of Scripture. However, before we go there, let us remember the statement of the Lord Jesus Christ to Nicodemus, where He draws a clear and bright line of distinction between the flesh and the spirit (please remember the soul is spiritual):

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6, KJV)

It is vitally important that we remember this, and then ask ourselves:

What part of man is the LORD saving while man is on this earth (that is, prior to the resurrection), and what part of man will the LORD save at the resurrection?

To answer the second part, is to answer the first part. Which answer we find in I Corinthians 15:

But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:35-44)

As I referenced Job 19 earlier:

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:23-27, KJV)

In the resurrection, the body is saved from the corruption it is presently. Hence, the present salvation that men experience is the salvation of the soul.

Thus, though we are saved in the soul, the flesh is not changed, and has a mind of its own – an evil and wicked nature and mind – a mind of iniquity. To this the apostle Paul testifies in Romans 7:

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)

Hence, the soul is made righteous in Christ Jesus by the new birth in Christ:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:22)

And that individual has passed from death unto life and cannot be touched by the second death:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

And again:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. (John 10:27-30)

And neither can they be lost or forsaken. As the Lord Jesus stated:

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29)

Please note, the “no man” here does include the believer. It includes Satan, the devils, other men, and whatever else other nonsense man could come up with, as Romans 8 tells us:

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-39)

I will take the liberty here to highlight a particular point: If you can lose it, its not eternal, nor everlasting.

Thus, I hold, as the Scripture shows, that the fifth point of Arminian doctrine is utterly in error. Hence, Arminian doctrine is not valid.

But Calvinist doctrine fares worse. The points of the TULIP are in error in almost every way:

1. Total depravity (Original Sin)
2. Unconditional election (God’s Election)
3. Limited atonement (Particular Redemption)
4. Irresistible grace (Effectual Calling)
5. Perseverance of the Saints

Without getting to deep into the multitude of errors, I would like to point out salient facts pertaining to the very nature and Person of the LORD God, as the Scripture describes Him, which are adverse to Calvinist doctrine:

Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)

If it is, as Calvinist doctrine purports, that the LORD God in eternity past, arbitrarily picked and chose who would be saved, and who would not, why did the LORD choose to torment Himself so? If He truly has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, why did He arbitrarily condemn most men to destruction with no hope of salvation? Moreover, why does He swear by Himself that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked?

Ladies and gentlemen, if you marry Augustinian Predestination to the above passages from Ezekiel, you have the very definition of insanity.

Moreover, If it is as Calvinist doctrine states, that everything man does is foreordained by the LORD God and is the will of God, including man’s wicked acts, then please explain the following passages:

Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. (Jeremiah 19:4-6)

And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35)

Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. (Jeremiah 7:29-31)

How is it, that this action by Israel can be the will of God, when the LORD Himself states it NEVER came into His mind that they should do such a thing?

BTW, while we are at it, does the following verse make any sense at all in light of Calvinist doctrine?

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

If it really is “irresistible grace,” what is the point of the LORD God reasoning with someone about their iniquity and sin?

I have written much about Calvinist doctrine. However, allow me to point out that Augustinian Predestination is supposedly an answer to the intractable question of why some are “chosen to salvation” and others not. Augustine, Calvin, et al, reasoned that if someone were able on their own to believe, and that belief were efficacious for salvation, then that made belief works, and works condemn. Since salvation is by grace, then the belief must be brought about by irresistible grace as man has no ability to actually do anything toward his salvation, including believing.

The only problem with that is that man is commanded to believe the gospel in numerous places in Scripture. In fact, the call is to everyone on earth:

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18-22)

To cover up this discrepancy between Calvinist doctrine and Scripture, the false idea of an “external call” and an “internal call” was created – which is found nowhere documented in Scripture.

What Augustine, Calvin, et al did not and do not understand is the principle of the unprofitable servant:

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:5-10)

Without going on much further, there is a PDF of the Election of Grace at the following Post:

The Election of Grace: The road to salvation

Suffice to say, Calvinism fails as a Scriptural doctrine.

What we are left with is a doctrine that is fully consistent with Scripture, and is also consistent with man being made in the similitude of God:

1. Man is a tri-unity of parts: Soul, spirit and body. The LORD God is a tri-unity of Persons: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost
Though there are orders of magnitude difference her, the pattern is the same.
2. Man has Free-will.
3. Man has the innate ability to Judge.
4. Man is Creative. Man creates out of that which already exists (ex-aliquid (which is out of something or pro-creation)) (the LORD God does it ex-nihlo (out of nothing))
5. Man has the moral imperatives: Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness and Love

Man is given the opportunity to believe, but man cannot save himself as he cannot free himself from the iniquity (not the sin, the iniquity – there is a difference between sin and iniquity) he inherits from his parents. That, the LORD God must do through the work of the Holy Ghost in the new birth, whereupon that man is held in Christ Jesus for all eternity.

We must understand that man is the pinnacle of creation. Accordingly, the LORD God grants man certain leeway to make his own choices. Calvinism makes man nothing more than a puppet, and Arminism makes the LORD God ignorant of iniquity and its consequences, while elevating man to the point of being able to maintain the righteousness of God on his own. Neither is a right position.

pdavisnwa on June 17, 2014 at 2:06 AM

pdavisnwa on June 17, 2014 at 2:06 AM

I appreciate this, tho I cannot agree with all of your points. I visited your site. We are likely familiar with some of the same people in that region. I will attempt to answer more thoroughly thru your site and will identify myself when I do.

May God bless you and all who seek Him.

questionmark on June 17, 2014 at 7:47 AM

Calvinism is blasphemous for saying that God chose in eternity past who He would save and who He would damn. Now God being God, I’d have no problem with that IF that’s what the Bible teaches. But that is not what it teaches. For Calvinism to be true, God must be a liar for presenting the Gospel of the grace of God to the whole world while He yet knows He did not allow Christ’s blood to atone for the sins of most who hear it…YET He will condemn them for not believing it! That’s a blasphemous idol Calvinists have erected.

Calvinism’s “God” is a liar (as is Calvinism’s “Christ,”) while Arminianism’s “God” is potentially weaker than man. Both are false presentations of the God of the Bible, slanderous to the point of blasphemy.

S.P. Link on June 17, 2014 at 7:50 AM

Ephesians 1: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he [b] predestined us for adoption to sonship [c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he [d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, [e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

2 Thessalonians 2: 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1: 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

John 3: 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Romans 9: 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it,Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

questionmark on June 17, 2014 at 10:18 AM

S.P. Link on June 17, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Of whom then do those verses speak?

questionmark on June 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM

questionmark on June 17, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Jesus is the elect of God. Christians, in Christ, become the elect. It is part of our inheritance as adopted children of God.

davidk on June 17, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Jesus is the elect of God. Christians, in Christ, become the elect. It is part of our inheritance as adopted children of God.
davidk on June 17, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

To say that this speaks only of Christ – adding us in later – does violence to the clear language of scripture.

Election and predestination are inextricably connected, and each of the passages below show that predestination applies not simply to Christ, but to all Christians.

Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:30
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:5
having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:11
in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…

Similarly, the following speaks clearly of Christians – not Christ.

I Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Foreknowledge is not merely prescience, but an intimate love placed upon those to whom God has in eternity (and will in our reality) covered with His Grace as they, by His decree enter into and live their lives upon the earth.

questionmark on June 17, 2014 at 6:38 PM

I was away on vacation and want to belatedly wish all of you good men here a Happy Father’s Day.

Thanks, Ed. Excellent, as always.

God bless you all.

Elisa on June 18, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Too bad for all the good people who died never knowing about Jesus and so forth, or those who loved their parents, (of a different faith), and did not question their religion.

I suppose once they die and go to Purgatory, eventually they can get to Heaven?

antisense on June 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Unclesmrgol has already beautifully explained the concept of Invincible Ignorance for those who never heard of Jesus. Which encompasses alot of mankind over the last 2,000 years. Even today there are some. And, I would add, some who have heard the name of Jesus, but out of devotion and love and obedience to God, felt it was sinful or a betrayal of God to seriously entertain belief in Christ. (I truly believe there are some people like that, especially many of our Jewish brothers and sister.)

I believe that, no matter what one believes and professes during their life, all God’s elect will at some point be personally called to faith in Christ and all His truths, perhaps by Christ appearing to that person Himself. Perhaps in the final moments between life and death, because a second to God can be like a thousand years. A clear call of grace to be accepted before passing into the next world, where there is only truth. For in Heaven we will all be believing the same thing – only truth.

But if one feels the Holy Spirit calling them now, do not postpone or delay, because there are no guarantees of a second chance to accept His grace for faith in Christ. Follow God’s calling in your conscience. “God is not mocked.”

And of course, Unclesmrgol has also brought up infants, born and unborn, baptized and unbaptized. That our Lord Himself can place unspoken simple faith in the hearts of these innocents and baptize them with His own holy water, perhaps with “the river of life-giving water” mentioned in Revelation. (That last part about baptism is my own personal belief, not professed Catholic teaching, but does not go against Catholic teaching.)

Nothing is impossible with God. Our wise, just and merciful God. Only God knows when He calls each man and how. Only God can read the hearts and minds of each man.

Elisa on June 18, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Too bad for all the good people who died never knowing about Jesus and so forth, or those who loved their parents, (of a different faith), and did not question their religion.

I suppose once they die and go to Purgatory, eventually they can get to Heaven?

antisense on June 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Purgatory has nothing to do with non-believers getting a second chance to be saved.

The “state of Purgatory” is a cleansing state outside of time and space (or possible place) where saved believers are purified and perfected, if that was not done here on earth. For as Revelation tells us about Heaven, “nothing unclean will enter into it” and the New Testament tells us to “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (We can never do this on our own, only by the grace of God.)

And we all know that while we are at times in a state of grace, many times we have unrepented sins and huge inperfections. I know I am not perfect. Few are.

The Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believe that the “state of cleansing” is actually a joyful place. I agree with Mother Angelica from EWTN who once said that when she is in Purgatory she will be so happy, because that means that she is saved and will be in Heaven.

Purgatory is only for God’s elect. And some elect are already purified and perfected and do not pass through it. Those who aren’t saved go the Hell, may God have mercy on us all.

Purgatory is not a separate place from Heaven or Hell. Purgatory is like the mudroom of God’s home. We clean up a little bit before going in the main house, but we are already in our Father’s home permanently.

Elisa on June 18, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Romans 3:10-12:
“As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless;” there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Is it true that no one is righteous? Scripture says that Sst. Abraham of the New Testament and St. Joseph of the New Testament were righteous, amongst a few others. The Psalms talk about righteous men and God hearing their prayers.

While it is true that While they awaited salvation in “the bosom of Abraham” until after Christ’s saving work on the cross, they were called “righteous” by God in the Bible at a point in time before Christ.

They were given the grace of God for faith in Him, before ever hearing the name Jesus. Eventually they would have faith in Christ for salvation, but they were called to righeousness by God before that.

God can call anyone He wants at any time in any way. And can save those who never heard the name of Jesus here on earth.

Obviously this is a way of speaking, not to be taken in a strict literal sense. The verses before this and Verse 9 show what is being said here. “Are we any better. Not at all , , , Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”

This is saying that Jews and Gentiles are both subject to sin. Neither group is better than the other.

Romans 3:20-24:
“since no human being will be justified in his sight by observing the law; for through the law comes consciousness of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, “

Elisa on June 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Scripture actually contradicts the concept of

James said “faith without works is dead.” To be dead, it had to have been alive at one time, it had to exist. James didn’t say that without works there really never was faith or that it wasn’t true faith. He said it was dead – gone.

Also, 1 Timothy 1:18-19:
“. . . with the prophetic words once spoken about you. Through them may you FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT by having faith and a good conscience. Some, by rejecting conscience, have MADE A SHIPWRECK OF THEIR FAITH,”

How can one make a shipwreck of their faith, if the faith if they never had faith. This passage also does not differentiate between a false and a true faith. This passage shows that one can have faith and then ruin and lose their faith. We need to remain in Christ always and strive to “fight the good fight.”

Elisa on June 18, 2014 at 10:17 AM

There are many good Christian brothers and sisters here commenting who, as evangelicals and some Protestants, follow a tradition of faith alone, that they believe comes from Scripture.

But actually, it only comes from half of Scripture. The Bible does not teach faith alone, it teaches faith and works together, always by the grace of God, never apart from God. Not once does the Bible say “faith alone.” Or say that salvation is always a “one time event.”

There are countless quotes in Scripture about good works that talk about “reward,” “recompense,” “reap,” “repay,” “storing up treasures in Heaven” and “judgment.” (Unclesmrgol quoted some.)

Many never even mentioning faith (although we know they are never apart from faith because we take the Bible as a whole.) Many of these quotes specifically say that the reward for these good works is salvation itself, “eternal life.”

With the best of intentions, they pluck sentences out to support their beliefs and interpretations and ignore or misinterpret the other passages that support faith and works together.

Not only do they isolate the passages from the rest of the Bible, they are even taking the passages out of context of each of St. Paul’s letters or New Testament books from which they are quoting.

If one reads each of those letters of St. Paul from the beginning, you can see he is talking about works of the LAW and 90% of the time, he is specifically talking about circumcision.

We must remember that Paul was speaking to Jews and others who believed that man is saved by his own actions, his works. Jews in the first century believed they could work their way to salvation (their concept of it) by following the Mosaic law.

There are different types of works. We should never confuse them.

There are self-righteous works. So we can feel good about ourselves and think we are good people or have others think well of us. This is self-aggrandizement and not a work that saves us.

There are WORKS OF THE LAW, WORKS OF MAN. The Old Testament Jewish ceremonial and food laws and the moral law. And circumcision was the big thing in the first century amongst both Gentile and Jewish Christians. That is why Paul writes so much about works of the law and works of men. Most of the time he is talking about circumcision, like in Romans chapters 2 through 4.

Read the whole letter to the Romans from the beginning. You will see when he is talking about any works not saving us, it is works of the law he’s discussing.

These works manipulate God and salvation. Like God owes us something and we have earned it or merited salvation. According to the Old Covenant, it was like that. If I do A, B and C, then God has to give me D. Salvation isn’t a gum ball machine.

After Christ none of these works save us.

But there is another kind of work. The WORKS OF GOD, not the works of man. What God calls us to do. A prompting of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We know what God wants from us. Like James says in Chapter 2, “our faith manifested in our works.”

These are the works done purely out of love of God, to obey and do His will. Not to earn anything. Our good works are empowered by His grace. His grace is freely given, a gift not earned.

He doesn’t need our works, but He expects them and requires them. Because He is a loving and just God. These are the works that do save us when combined with faith.

Paul was showing them that salvation came from God, not from ourselves, so “no one can boast.” In Ephesians Chapter 2, he says, “For by grace you have been SAVED THROUGH FAITH, and this is NOT FROM YOU; it is the GIFT OF GOD; it is NOT FROM WORKS, so NO one may BOAST.”

Paul was teaching true Christianity to them by saying we are saved by faith in Christ. This was revolutionary. Faith saves and it comes as a gift from God. But Paul never once said faith ALONE. Just like James never says works ALONE. Nor does James say our works are only symbols or fruits of our faith. That is just an interpretation, he never uses those phrases. James says that, “faith was COMPLETED by his works.” Meaning Abraham’s faith alone was incomplete. James actually says “faith without works is useless” and that we are actually “justified by works and not by faith alone.”

Abraham was not saved by faith alone. He was declared righteous not after He believe alone, but after he believed AND packed up his family and everything he had to follow God to an unknown land.

Paul also speaks of the rewards of works.

Galatians 6:7-9:
“Make no mistake: GOD IS NOT MOCKED, for a person will REAP ONLY WHAT HE SOWS, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap ETERNAL LIFE from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of DOING GOOD, for in due time we REAP OUR HARVEST, IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.”

What is there for us to reap? Salvation. And it is not now that we reap the harvest. It is in “due time” after we sow, do good. For God is not mocked. He is a just God.

We believe that we are saved by the grace of God alone. We do not merit it or earn it. It is a gift freely given and only Our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross alone has merited this for us.

But after that, after we have been given the gift of faith, we have to accept it, repent and lead good lives. All these are works. Before the point of justification, we can do nothing. After that point, once graced, we are obliged to do good deeds.

We must reject the attachment to sin out of love of God. This is a necessary work for salvation.

Elisa on June 18, 2014 at 10:54 AM

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