Sunday reflection: Matthew 15:21–28

posted at 10:01 am on August 17, 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 discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is Matthew 15:21–28:

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

“For God so loved the world,” John the Evangelist wrote in his Gospel, “that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I emphasize the word world in that passage because of the three readings we have today. The salvation of the entire world was always in Gods plan, not just the rescue of Israel and the Hebrews. And while Jesus spent most of his ministry offering salvation first to Israel, we have occasions throughout the Gospel that demonstrate the will of God that this call to salvation will spread to all people.

Israel had been chosen as the instrument of salvation, not the limitation of it. After their release from bondage in Egypt, Israel had the chance to accept its role as priest to the world, the great teacher of God’s law to all of the other nations. Jerusalem would become the City on the Hill that would shine a great light, and all nations would learn to worship the one true Father. Israel, though, became too mired in worldly concerns, starting with the Exodus and the Golden Calf. As a nation, it became too concerned with political power, and its kings began tolerating and then participating in idol worship. Still, salvation would come through Israel, even a fallen Israel, and it would make God’s house “a house of prayer for all peoples,” as Isaiah prophesied in today’s first reading (Isaiah 56:1,6-7). God would offer the Israelites the chance to become priests to the world for its salvation from sin — this time in the form of a church rather than a nation.

Seen from this perspective, the seeming rejection of Jesus might make a little more sense — if in fact that’s what was happening in this passage from Matthew. But was Jesus rejecting the woman, or teaching a lesson to the future high priests of His church to come?

At this time, as our own parish priest reminded us at Mass yesterday, Israelites did not mix with Gentiles. Cultural friction kept them apart as much as possible; the Jews worked with the Romans because they had little choice, but rarely mixed at all beyond that. They didn’t even mix with Samaritans, a people who claim to have the authentic version of Judaism. The Israelites of that time looked for a Messiah to lift Israel out of bondage, and only Israel, a savior who would make all other nations subject to the Israelites. They had little use for interaction, let alone evangelization and conversion, which was the original mission of Israel itself.  That is why the disciples in this passage react so sharply to the pleas of the clearly distraught Gentile woman, who also crossed cultural norms by initiating conversation with a man outside of her acquaintance.

But that prompts another question. If Jesus is called only to gather the lost sheep of Israel and no more, why did Jesus take His disciples to Tyre and Sidon in the first place? Those were Gentile districts, not traditionally Jewish. In fact, the Sidonians oppressed Israel (Judges 10:12), and Solomon’s sin of allowing idolatry in Jerusalem came from his political alliance with the city (1 Kings). Jezebel, one of the great antagonists of Israel in the Old Testament, was a Sidonian princess who perverted King Ahab from the worship of the true God in favor of pagan idols (also 1 Kings). There may well have been a significant number of Jews in both cities, who would certainly have been “lost sheep” in a real sense, but engagement with Gentiles would have been unavoidable.

Jesus didn’t avoid all contact with those considered outside of polite company by most Israelites either. He ran into considerable opposition from the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes for His embrace of tax collectors and sinners who normally got shunned by observant Jews of that time. Jesus healed the unclean, and lifted up the poor. In one passage that parallels that of today, Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman and transformed her into an evangelist in her community. He taught the love of neighbor in a parable that explicitly used a Samaritan to challenge these cultural barriers. Later Jesus would heal the servant of a Roman centurion, praising the man’s faith after hearing his supplication — which Catholics still use as their Eucharistic prayer to this day.

With that in mind, what really transpired in this passage? Jesus waits for His disciples to react to the woman, and then seems to validate their dismissive reaction, even to the point of suggesting the woman was a “dog” for being a Gentile. This allows the woman to remind Jesus — and His disciples — that even the Gentile nations were meant to be fed from the same table as their “masters” in Israel, who were called to the banquet first among all others. With that argument, and that lesson ringing in the ears of the disciples who tried to get Jesus to dismiss her, He instead heals her daughter and praises her great faith.

Compare this to the fate of the other woman from Sidon mentioned here, Jezebel. She corrupted Israel and attempted to supplant worship of God with paganism. Despite her royal status and power, the exact opposite of the woman in Matthew, Jezebel was cast down from her height to her death on the ground below — to be eaten by dogs, as prophesied by Elijah (2 Kings 9:30-37). The Canaanite woman in the Tyre-Sidon district provides the exact reversal of the Gentile corruption by Jezebel of true worship, a foreshadowing of the triumph of the Church.

Our second reading today offers another dimension of this seeming contradiction in the Gospel passage. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul zealously persecuted the Christian church in Jerusalem and the land of Israel as a heresy of the Judaic faith. The man who once demanded purity of Israelites ended up becoming the great evangelist to the Gentiles instead, telling writing in Romans 11:

I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Paul also instructs (emphasis mine) that “God delivered all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” While Paul obviously did not take part in the passage from Matthew, it’s the same lesson Jesus taught the disciples in Sidon and Tyre: that while they would first offer salvation to the lost sheep of Israel, the mission of salvation would be to the entire world — as it had been from the beginning. The Church would not wait for the world to come to it, but it would go to the entire world to convert it to the love of God through the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit working through its missionaries and priests.

Jesus challenges all to rise above the petty differences, the social boundaries, the divisions between people — whether they be the soft boundaries of “polite society” or the hard boundaries of language, nations, and wealth — to spread caritas and the saving Word of God. When we do, we may find that those self-imposed boundaries only keep us from fulfillment, both in Christ and in ourselves, and that no other people are “dogs” at all. Instead, we all have the potential to be true children of God, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The front-page image is a detail of “Christ and the Canaanite Woman” by Pieter Lastman from the early 17th century.


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Comment pages: 1 2

You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by graces through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.~Ephesians 2

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Is it too simplistic to just point out that Jesus constantly tested people to prove their sincerity?

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM

I sure wish Abu Bakr al-Baghdadti would read your commentaries Ed.

celtic warrior on August 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Instead, we all have the potential to be true children of God, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I would respectfully disagree here Ed. Our status as true children of God was lost in the fall. We traded that for the things of this world.

Jesus had to come and die and restore us to union with The Holy Trinity precisely because we did not have the “potential” to do that for ourselves.

Now it’s done; we are true children of God and destined for that blessed union.

kcewa on August 17, 2014 at 11:03 AM

I really enjoyed this reflection today – thank you so much!

Magnolia on August 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM

I enjoyed it too. Thank you, Ed.

dogsoldier on August 17, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Well done, Ed. I’ve always found this to be one of the hard passages.

Mason on August 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

But works are indispensible to salvation. Even demons have faith — they certainly believe in God.

Faith and grace is indispensible for salvation, but so is work. You are not ridden by the Holy Spirit even in your faith; you have the will to take the Gift and dash it to the ground. My sister makes the same mistake as you do in taking 2 Ephesians and running with it as if the rest of Scripture does not exist. In her faith, she shoplifted and had work done upon her home which she could not pay — and claimed that she was Saved because of her belief in Christ, and no works were needed to confirm that faith.

Now Ed cites the Gospel reading for this Sunday Mass — Matthew 15: 21-28. But just above that passage is Matthew 15:3-6:

He said to them in reply, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is dedicated to God,” need not honor his father.’ You have nullified the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

In other words, God expects works to flow from faith, and those who chose to do otherwise — to have dead faith — will find it tough going at their Judgement [James 2:14-18]:

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.

Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

Note that James 2 and 2 Ephesians appear to be in direct conflict with each other. The conflict can be resolved only by understanding that the grace of God — His gift — can be withdrawn if you waver in your faith.

There is Romans 3 which knits it all together:

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, hom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God—to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith. For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles

So, what is this dichotomy between faith and “works of the law”? The Jews believed that by following the prohibitions in Torah, that they would be saved from Gehenna. Nobody else had that distinction. Jesus, in the Mass today, tells us that this is not so, and Romans 3 is merely frosting on the cake — which Paul is using to remind the Jews (who expected gentiles to be circumcised as part of their works acknowledging Christ) that such works are not essential:

for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not!w On the contrary, we are supporting the law.

So, there appear to be portions of the law which must be observed — works which must be performed — and others which are not obligatory.

“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.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.s But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

Jesus expects us to ACT — hopefully in some way commensurate with our abilities. How we are to ACT is spelled out in many places of Scripture. But, apparently, to ACT is not necessarily to be SAVED. But you are not SAVED if you do not ACT {Matt 25:31-46]:

“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, a 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.”

So, we have dead faith, which leads nowhere, and living faith, which begets works. It is our choice, for God would never distribute to some of us dead faith, or to others living faith. Jesus has told us that, too.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

We are all children of God whether we like it or not. Jesus was just trying to show us that. Trying to take off our blinders so to speak. Language, country, wealth, religious sect doesn’t change anything in that regard.

In giving us free will to choose he showed us both sides of the coin. The faithful believers choose the shiny side, the rest fall beneath the coin but aren’t beyond salvation. Israel’s charge was to lift the coin and expose everyone to the light, but failed. So did Rome apparently, but do we need Rome or Israel to show the way when they spend their time covered in coins?

Not with guys like Ed around ;-)

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM

So did Rome apparently, but do we need Rome or Israel to show the way when they spend their time covered in coins?

Not with guys like Ed around ;-)

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Ed is of Rome. And so am I.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Thanks Ed. Love this feature of HotAir

MTF on August 17, 2014 at 1:58 PM

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

When I read the first sentence I knew it was your post. Those words I quoted are not mine. They are Paul’s.

In other words, God expects works to flow from faith, and those who chose to do otherwise — to have dead faith — will find it tough going at their Judgement [James 2:14-18]:

True.

But Paul speaks ontologically; James, existentially.

If you have saving faith, you are saved. Before you have produced any good works. Paul.

If you are saved, you will produce saving works. James.

Another way to state it, Paul says that before you have produced any good works, if you have saving faith, you are saved. That is your position. Paul is speaking positionally.

The moment you have saving faith several things obtain: you are regenerated, justified, sanctified wholly, imputed with the righteousness of God, adopted into the family of God, seated with with Christ at the right hand of God, become a co-heir with Christ, sealed in and with the Holy Spirit. This is your forensic standing before the Father. Before any works.

These things, this salvation occurs before any works because it happens at very very money one has saving faith. The same instance.

Theologians talk about those things I listed as being logically prior to each other. For example, regeneration happens logically prior to adoption. You can’t be adopted if you have not been regenerated. But they happen at the same moment of time in our reckoning.

(These are matters of the spirit, of the spiritual realm. If you can visualize two dimensional time, you can see how, while they happen in the same moment in our one dimensional time line, they occur in sequence in the second dimension. This paragraph is a concept that I am still working on. I would not say it is a doctrine that I hold.)

So when you have saving faith and those things occur, you believe and enter into a life of works such as James describes. James is speaking experientially. If you don’t do good works then you didn’t have saving faith and are not saved.

Position becomes before experience.

There are churches out there who do not teach the full gospel. They say you do not have to “make” Jesus the Lord of your life to be saved. You can accept the Lordship of Jesus later but it is not a necessary cause of salvation. That is heresy.

Maybe that is what your sister has been taught.

Yes, we still sin. And sometimes we slip into rank sin. But Paul writes that “where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

But he immediately declares, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

However, in Romans seven Paul recognizes our weakness:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?

He answers that question with this declaration, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin. Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.

Amazing grace; how sweet the sound.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Ed is of Rome. And so am I.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:27 PM

It wasn’t meant to insult anyone. More of an indictment of the organizations through the centuries that are supposed to be saving people by showing them the way. I think they are more concerned with the coins rather than who is on either side of them. That does not completely damn the people who run the organizations either, it just shows they aren’t above the need for correction.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 2:10 PM

very very money = very moment

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Jesus was sent personally to the House of Israel only, with the gospel to be delivered by his Apostles after he had been resurrected. In fact, he specifically instructed them to preach the gospel to the whole world. However this woman learned about him, she accepted him as the Son of God without his preaching to her and sought him out. She wasn’t the only Gentile to do so. Her faith in him was too great to be denied.

Another point is that he seemed to be especially willing to visit and heal children.

The time will come when Jesus will appear in person to the whole earth and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is the Lord of the Earth and the savior of mankind. But he came first to the children of Israel in fulfillment of an ancient covenant with their ancestors. However, he told them that as they were first to receive him in his earthly ministry, they as a people would be last to see him at his second coming.

flataffect on August 17, 2014 at 2:16 PM

When I read the first sentence I knew it was your post. Those words I quoted are not mine. They are Paul’s.

Of course they weren’t yours. You even cited where they came from.

I have pointed out how your citation fits in with Catholic teaching — teaching which has been passed unaltered through the ages to the present. Indeed, no work of yours or mine will save anyone, but the absence of work will condemn us. And that work comes from us — the Lord hints at what we should do, but the choice as to whether to do it is entirely our own.

There is this, from 2 Timothy:

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race;f I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.

Why would Paul be concerned as to whether he might or might not have “kept the faith”? We have dead faith, kept faith — which imply, of course, that there are both living faith and unkept faith.

We know that living faith requires works.

You may claim that grace is all that is needed, but grace only comes at the call of living, kept, faith, and can vanish instantly should that faith become dead, unkept. Remember the sheep and the goats — the goats who believed, and thought through that belief that they were Saved. What did Jesus call them?

You state that salvation comes before faith. I reject that categorically. The last paragraph of your Ephesians citation says quite a bit against that position:

For you are saved by graces [sic] through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.

Does faith come from God, or from us? If it comes from God, then it is completely God’s choice with respect to Salvation, and nothing we can do will affect the outcome. That means that God is responsible for one’s lack of faith — for one’s failure to believe.

Now, over and over again in the Bible, we are exhorted to believe and to have faith. If such is willful on our part, then those verses make sense. All of the parables Jesus gives us makes sense. If faith were truly something only from God, and not something we need to participate in obtaining ourselves, then there would be no need at all for Scripture — for such faith would be writ in our hearts by God.

So, God is telling us something in Scripture, and that is that our belief in Him and from that our faith in Him are from ourselves. He will give us grace, thus justifying our belief and our faith, and yet — there is something lacking unless our faith is alive. Can there be grace in the presence of dead faith? You can believe all you want in the Lord — even demons do that and tremble — but what must you do in addition to justify the grace given to you? Is grace a completely unwarranted gift, or is there something God expects in return?

That’s where our two respective theologies diverge. It’s how Jesus separated the sheep and the goats which is at the crux of the matter. The sheep and the goats were completely free to do the works Jesus cited, but the goats chose not to. They chose — it wasn’t a matter of them being denied “saving faith” (a term which does not appear at all in Scripture). I believe that the full term is “genuine saving faith” when used by evangelicals — so, what denotes “genuine saving faith”?

Here’s what one evangelical says:
http://www.gotquestions.org/signs-saving-faith.html

Now, read all the Scripture that this person cites, and not that every one of the citations involves the will of man. That’s not a very good track record for something which is awarded us without any requirements whatsoever.

Now, you can parse that out to say the goats never had a chance of salvation in the first place, or your can parse it out to say that the goats were never given the chance by God to have saving grace, but either of these flies in the face of Scripture.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 3:09 PM

More of an indictment of the organizations through the centuries that are supposed to be saving people by showing them the way. I think they are more concerned with the coins rather than who is on either side of them. That does not completely damn the people who run the organizations either, it just shows they aren’t above the need for correction.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 2:10 PM

I would disagree with the thrust of your argument — that the organization itself is a failure. Both Ed and myself were taught by the Catholic Church. That Church, comprised entirely of sinners, has, as Jesus promised, transmitted unaltered the Good Word of the Lord and the teachings born of Tradition necessary to properly understand it.

Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love and, through his grace, such ceaseless encouragement and such sure hope, encourage you and strengthen you in every good word and deed.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM

If anyone adds works to saving faith and teaches that, they teach a heresy.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

I’ve never understood why an omnipotent, omniscient God would have to sacrifice his only begotten son in order to be able to forgive the sins of his own creations.

DarkCurrent on August 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I’ve never understood why an omnipotent, omniscient God would have to sacrifice his only begotten son in order to be able to forgive the sins of his own creations.

DarkCurrent on August 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

The answer is right in your statement. If you knew God, then you’d understand how important it is to God that we know him. You might just as well ask why God made some people for destruction. And the answer is simple.

“22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory”

(Given the context, this is not a hypothetical, despite the “what if”. The context of “what if” shows that it is “Who do you think you are that you think you have the right to question the motives of your maker? What’s it to you, if…”.)

The Rogue Tomato on August 17, 2014 at 5:05 PM

I would disagree with the thrust of your argument — that the organization itself is a failure. Both Ed and myself were taught by the Catholic Church. That Church, comprised entirely of sinners, has, as Jesus promised, transmitted unaltered the Good Word of the Lord and the teachings born of Tradition necessary to properly understand it.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM

I’d argue the unaltered thing, but that’s a whole different argument from the topic at hand, and I’m probably not versed well enough in it to make an argument coherent enough to suffice anyway.

The fact that you and Ed are taught by the Catholic Church in your knowledge is to me not so much a pat on the back of the church as it is your parents and upbringing, unless you came to God against or in spite of a lack of influence from your parents.

The Jews have split a hundred ways, as have Christians, but what I argue is the ‘main’ sect of each has over the centuries become corrupt to varying degrees at varying times. The current pope for instance seems to want to reform, which is all well and good, but with his leanings toward socialism and the corruption still within the church that effort will probably end up corrupt as well, or just simply fail.

Where both Jews and Christian churches fail in my view is partly in their works, or lack of, but mainly in spreading the word of God. Nobody can know his grace without first hearing the word, and where is the effort to save people? That to me is failure, notwithstanding all the other warts of Jews and Christians organizations.

But, perhaps I set the bar too high? I am certainly not a person so elevated that I can say I don’t have a plank in my eye, if you know what I mean.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 6:28 PM

But, perhaps I set the bar too high? I am certainly not a person so elevated that I can say I don’t have a plank in my eye, if you know what I mean.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Everybody sins. As I said above, I come from a Church filled with sinners. Every Christian denomination is filled with sinners. So, I leave the Salvation part to God, who can discern those who are trying and those who are going through the motions. As for me, I’m trying to try harder, if you get my drift.

Perhaps I listened in Catechism. I know that Ed did. My church does everything it can to educate us — and to assure that we have well formed consciences which know what is the work of the Lord and what is not — and that work includes gentle correction to other Christians who have misstated Scripture or seized upon some small piece of Scripture as the do-all and end-all of their relationship with the Lord, or our hierarchy which has members who have been known to act against the Scripture and Traditions handed down by the Lord and his Apostles.

My sister was one of those. She rebelled against everything — school, church,… She was in the “escort business”, and drank and used drugs and then — she found the Lord, or so she said, at a small church down the street. The church’s pastor taught that once you believe, you are saved, and that none of your sins matter from that point onward because our loving Lord accepts you just as you are — no need to change.

So, too old to be in the “escort business” any more, she shoplifted and, when my father died, she called in all sorts of contractors to make the family house into her image — but “forgot” to pay them. She was caught shoplifting and the resulting blemish on her record made it impossible for her to hold any job in retail, which are the only jobs she was capable of holding, because she never completed high school.

It was nasty to say the least, because my disabled brother was also living in the house and he needed that house to live his life. It was close to his work, and close to his friends. I had to rescue both of them. My wife no longer talks to my sister — she won’t have anything to do with her, because it took almost $100,000 of our retirement savings to fix the problems.

But my sister, when she finally decided to listen, got the same lecture as I have given above. She’s off alcohol and drugs. She no longer goes to that little church. She’s back in catechism class, learning what she refused to learn as a child. She realizes fully that the little church down the street had a destructive theology. And she’s getting her GED. So little miracles happen. Maybe one day my wife will relent and allow her back into our house.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM

If anyone adds works to saving faith and teaches that, they teach a heresy.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Describe “saving faith”, please. Is it without works?

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Is it too simplistic to just point out that Jesus constantly tested people to prove their sincerity?

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM

It is in this case.

It’s a tough reading, in that Jesus comes off as cold-hearted at first. The pastor at my church did a good job explaining it in the homily today.

Jesus wasn’t merely making the Canaanite woman prove her faith; he was setting up a lesson for his disciples — tricking them, in a way, by seeming to go along with their views of the non-chosen people. One can imagine them nodding along as he seems to put the woman in her place.

Then … plot twist!

The old order was out. Your regional or religious group no longer mattered with Jesus’ arrival. Faith — any person’s faith — could deliver them an afterlife in Paradise.

FishingwFredo on August 17, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Worldwide Christians give nearly $400 billion to Christians causes.

That figure does not include all the persona; giving that is not reported by a Christian organization like taking groceries to a neighbor, self-funded mission trips, aid given by governments motivated by a Christian worldview.

The total amount I would estimate to be well over a trillion dollars.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 6:57 PM

I’ve never understood why an omnipotent, omniscient God would have to sacrifice his only begotten son in order to be able to forgive the sins of his own creations.

DarkCurrent on August 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

It’s a valid question. I’ve been a believer for a while now and I STILL don’t understand it. The part about “his own creation” is irrelevant, of course, but I get your point.

I wrestle with it a lot; not that I doubt. There are too many things that I DO now understand, that I could not have understood when I looked at everything from, strictly, a human point of view, that I take it as a matter of faith.

I do know this much, however, and that is that sin is real. It’s not just an abstract Theological concept in a book. I can see it everywhere and experience it and its effects for myself, I can see it destroying lives, communities, nations, etc. so when I contemplate the mystery of the crucifixion and its necessity in that context, it just makes me think that, from an eternal perspective, the consequences of a life not lived in accordance with God’s principles must be pretty drastic if that’s what it takes to erase it from our souls.

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 7:01 PM

I’ve never understood why an omnipotent, omniscient God would have to sacrifice his only begotten son in order to be able to forgive the sins of his own creations.

DarkCurrent on August 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

It’s better than that. He experienced humanity. He told the leaders of those who had been privileged to hear his words that they had failed him, and that they needed to mend their ways. And then he became the final Sacrifice — the one which says no more holocausts are needed under the Covenant.

He give us the Messiah — the one who fought the battle for righteousness and showed the rest of us how it ought to be fought. Words, acts, and a life well lived are what He showed us. Possibly, horrible death awaits many of us. But we can bear it, for we saw our God bear it, and we understand why he bore it.

For God so loved the world….

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 7:04 PM

FishingwFredo on August 17, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Excellent. Hadn’t considered the effect on His disciples.

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 7:06 PM

The total amount I would estimate to be well over a trillion dollars.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 6:57 PM

And why is that important?

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Excellent. Hadn’t considered the effect on His disciples.

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Ed said it too, above. It’s one of the things that get hammered into you after a few dozen three year cycles of Scripture. It’s central to Christian theology that the Disciples be brought low — that they be corrected of their human failings, over and over.

Jesus taught important lessons to his Disciples about how God loves us, often by having them question everything they think they know. The classic is Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man which leaves all of the disciples wondering whether ANYONE can be saved. Jesus’ answer to them is priceless, and a boon to us sinners trying our best not to surrender to sin.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 7:12 PM

The total amount I would estimate to be well over a trillion dollars.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 6:57 PM

That’s people giving to the church organization, which is good. Obviously the org does good with a big chunk of that money, that’s not even the issue. To me the issue is what do they do with that money and how do they conduct themselves. That doesn’t just go for the Vatican, it goes for all religious organizations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thinking that the Vatican is BAD, or the Jewish leadership is BAD.

I just don’t get the feeling their value is measured in how close they are to God and his word as they are to the almighty sound of coin clinking together in the basket.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Describe “saving faith”, please. Is it without works?

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes “He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” If we respond appropriately to that ministry of the Spirit, God will make sure we hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” After attaining to faith in that proclamation, you are saved.

No works.

I reject the teaching of reformed theologians such as John MacArthur who claim that faith itself is a work and that a person is regenerated before he/she has saving faith and then God gives that person faith to believe.

I also reject the Arminian/Wesleyan understanding that saving faith is something you do.

Saving faith is something you have. And when you have it you, in that instant, are saved.

People respond in many different ways. Some cry. Some feel a great sense of relief. Some pray and ask God to forgive them of their past transgressions. Some do not feel anything. But none of that affects (or effects) your salvation. It is already an accomplished fact done by God.

One danger that I have observed over the years is that often people want to make their experience the norm for all, but it doesn’t work that way.

If you have saving faith, and are saved, that will be evident in works as James teaches.

While our standing before God is as I outlined above, our experience is not perfect. Never will be while we walk this earth.

We now have, as Paul wrote to the Philippians, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This is the process of sanctification as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I am not saying that works are not important. Quite the contrary. If you have no works you are probably not saved. But if one thinks he/she can in any way earn God’s favor, they are badly mistaken.

As the late Dallas Willard said, “Grace is opposed to earning but not to effort.”

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 7:34 PM

The total amount I would estimate to be well over a trillion dollars.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 6:57 PM

And why is that important?

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 7:07 PM

I’m not sure exactly what you are asking. I just cite that to point out that the Christians are quite generous contrary to what a lot of critics charge.

The fact of the matter, that amount is actually way too low.

The rate of giving in American churches is way under the Biblical guideline of 10%. Most of us could give a much higher percentage but we got to have our cable TV, our cell phones, dinner out two or more times a week, and more vehicle than we need.

And much too much of the monies given to American churches are spent on ourselves in the form of extravagant buildings, high tech sound systems, and trips to Flag Over.

I think maybe that is the point to which Diluculo alludes.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM

I think maybe that is the point to which Diluculo alludes.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Yes indeed it is.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 7:54 PM

. . . . . And much too much of the monies given to American churches are spent on ourselves in the form of extravagant buildings, high tech sound systems, and trips to Flag Over.

I think maybe that is the point to which Diluculo alludes.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM

.
Yes indeed it is.

Diluculo on August 17, 2014 at 7:54 PM

.
BLASPHEMY ! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Just because some (most?) Christians in the United States live and practice the “Pleasant Valley Sunday” mentality, doesn’t mean . . . . . oh, wait . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . yeah it does . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
.
. . . . . . . . . never mind.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 8:33 PM

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

.
But works are indispensible to salvation. Even demons have faith — they certainly believe in God.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

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Define “works”.
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Fallen angels are altogether without “redemption”, so that’s not necessarily a valid comparison.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:03 PM

Thank Ed. You explained that so well. I really got a lot out of your reflection.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:07 PM

So, we have dead faith, which leads nowhere, and living faith, which begets works. It is our choice, for God would never distribute to some of us dead faith, or to others living faith. Jesus has told us that, too.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

What an excellent point! I love that. Thanks.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Also a great post. I noticed that no one disputed or addressed all the scriptural points you made, so I hope everyone read it.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:10 PM

But if one thinks he/she can in any way earn God’s favor, they are badly mistaken.

As the late Dallas Willard said, “Grace is opposed to earning but not to effort.”

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 7:34 PM

The Catholic and Orthodox Churches do NOT teach that, so I don’t understand why you bring that up.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:11 PM

… often by having them question everything they think they know.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Very heavy.

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 9:13 PM

I wrote this here last month, but unfortunately the topic has been brought up again. so here goes again.

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.” ( I will follow with a post with some of these quotes.)

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.

I want to repeat that: WORKS OF THE LAW AND 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 August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

But if one thinks he/she can in any way earn God’s favor, they are badly mistaken.

As the late Dallas Willard said, “Grace is opposed to earning but not to effort.”

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 7:34 PM

.
The Catholic and Orthodox Churches do NOT teach that, so I don’t understand why you bring that up.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:11 PM

.
It’s brought up on account of MULTIPLE Churches actively teaching the belief, that genuinely PRAYERFULLY accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD, is not sufficient on it’s own to cause to bring to pass a condition of “saved”.
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Anything more constitutes “earning”.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

I wrote this here last month, but unfortunately the topic has been brought up again. so here goes again.

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.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

.
Touche … “guilty” . . . . . . . . I really believe that “PRAYERFULLY accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD” is ALL of the necessary “works”/ ‘corresponding action’,” to cause to bring to pass a condition of ‘saved’.”

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Here are some of the Scriptures which talk about saving works. (Again, never apart from faith and always by the grace of God. We are saved by grace alone, never earned.)

I must also repeat one of the passage that Unclesmogul posted.

Please note there are many other passages we could quote here besides what follows.

Colossians 3:23-25:
Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the DUE PAYMENT of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will receive RECOMPENCE for the wrong he committed, and there is no partiality.”

The “inheritance” spoken of repeatedly in Scripture is salvation itself.

Romans 2:5-11:

“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.”

This clearly says that “eternal life” itself or “wrath and fury” is what we will be repaid with, according to our works done in faith. Eternal life is salvation itself.

In John 5:28-29, Jesus says, “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done GOOD DEEDS to the resurrection of life, but those who have done WICKED DEEDS to the resurrection of condemnation.”

Again, the “good deeds to the resurrection of life.” Salvation itself. “Wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.” No salvation.

In John 3:36, John the Baptist says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”

“Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God.” So the work of disobedience is punished with no salvation.

Jesus in Matthew 25: 31-46:

“”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,
a 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.”

Doesn’t get clearer than that last line. “Eternal punishment.” “Eternal life.” The reward for the good works is salvation and the punishment for not doing good works is no salvation. (Note: it’s not bad works here that result in no salvation, it’s the lack of good works.)

These quotes clearly say that there is a reward of salvation for good works done in faith.

If someone had no part in this, why would there be any reward or recompense or storing up treasure or reaping of any kind.

Even if our part in cooperating with God in our salvation is only 0.000000001%, it is still a required work for salvation.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Good night all and God bless all of you here and your families.

listens2glenn, thank you for your prayers.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:30 PM

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Anything more constitutes “earning”.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

No. It doesn’t constitute “earning.” One does not equal the other belief. Everything comes from grace and is not earned. As if we could EVER merit or earn salvation.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Well, there’s grace, and then there’s obedience.

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 9:46 PM

listens2glenn, thank you for your prayers.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:30 PM

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You’re welcome … that’s one favor that can be passed back’n’forth here among and between ALL, in spite of all other differences.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:48 PM

Anything more constitutes “earning”.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

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No. It doesn’t constitute “earning.” One does not equal the other belief.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:35 PM

.
As respectfully as we can here with each other, I disagree … I don’t know what else to say.
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Everything comes from grace and is not earned. As if we could EVER merit or earn salvation.

Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:35 PM

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Okay … but I’m not the one who’s interpreting Colossians 3:23-25, Romans 2:5-11, John 5:28-29, John 3:36, and Matthew 25: 31-46 as meaning there’s something beyond simply, “PRAYERFULLY accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD” that is necessary towards achieving eternity with God.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:57 PM

Salvation is a gift, not a wage or something to be earned.

To teach otherwise leads to legalism and dividing believers into spiritual “haves” and “have-nots”.

Salvation is not attained by good works, neither it is maintained by good works.

Crux Australis on August 18, 2014 at 12:47 AM

Salvation is not attained by good works, neither it is maintained by good works.

Crux Australis on August 18, 2014 at 12:47 AM

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Okay … playing “devil’s advocate” here …
.

Then what are “good works” for ?

the devil

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I won’t be able to respond to this, until Monday evening … goin’ to bed.

listens2glenn on August 18, 2014 at 1:13 AM

Salvation is a gift, not a wage or something to be earned.

To teach otherwise leads to legalism and dividing believers into spiritual “haves” and “have-nots”.

Salvation is not attained by good works, neither it is maintained by good works.

Crux Australis on August 18, 2014 at 12:47 AM

I have found, however, that an erroneous understanding of grace, along these lines, oftentimes leads to complacency and spiritual laziness.

If salvation is a gift and not something I need to work at, then why “strive to enter that rest”?

It is clear to me from Scripture, that “salvation” is not merely a one time act of acceptance but a lifetime of seeking after God and His righteousness and holiness and that involves such things as “taking up our cross” daily and denying oneself.

It seems to me that the reason the Church has such little influence in today’s world is simply that most Christians really do not understand what salvation is but have substituted an easygoing morality for it. In too many cases what we end up being is simply church going moralists rather than servants of Christ.

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 7:07 AM

“strive to enter that rest” Heb. 4:11

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 7:10 AM

“strive to enter that rest” Heb. 4:11

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 7:10 AM

The definition of that rest will forever be the conflict.

pambi on August 18, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Excellent. Hadn’t considered the effect on His disciples.

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Ed said it too, above. It’s one of the things that get hammered into you after a few dozen three year cycles of Scripture. It’s central to Christian theology that the Disciples be brought low — that they be corrected of their human failings, over and over.

Jesus taught important lessons to his Disciples about how God loves us, often by having them question everything they think they know. The classic is Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man which leaves all of the disciples wondering whether ANYONE can be saved. Jesus’ answer to them is priceless, and a boon to us sinners trying our best not to surrender to sin.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 7:12 PM

And I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jesus’ hand-picked rock upon which to build his church was so human and flawed, the one who often seemed to engage mouth before brain, the one of whom Jesus earlier said, “O ye of little faith” and “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

There’s a powerful message in the choice of Peter. Perfection is not required; only love of the Lord and belief.

FishingwFredo on August 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Thank you Ed.

HonestLib on August 18, 2014 at 10:29 AM

FishingwFredo on August 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

*Sigh* I’m disappointed that you felt it necessary to slip in the Roman Catholic advertisement.

As a former altar boy/ devout Catholic, I need to inform you that it wasn’t Peter that Jesus was referring to as the Rock upon which He would build His Church but, rather, that statement of faith he uttered; that which Paul called the “good testimony”.

In my opinion, the RC church is one of the biggest perpetrators of the myth that one can arrive in Paradise simply on the basis of church going morality built on the same earthly value system as the rest of the country.

I’m sorry if that offends you but there it is.

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

You are saved by grace!

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Saved from what? Saved from having to do anything more than utter an affirmative is what I hear you to be asserting. I’m understanding from you that if you say ok to Jesus (which is merely your dutiful acceptance of a free gift) you’re ticket to the kingdom (as I sense you regard it to be quite a similar conveyance) is tattooed upon your soul. I can’t bring myself to accept this sort of oversimplification as remotely rational given the entire body of Scripture. Your suggestion of something as simple as saying “ok” just explodes all that I know of God instructing us to “do this…” In the beginning, Adam and Eve were instructed to “do this” and that instruction was to never eat the fruit from the tree of Good and Evil. Spoiler alert – the first couple worked against God’s instructions. I can’t find the wiggle room to allow disobedience hidden in an instruction as succinct as “do this.” Doing thinks is not wrapped up in Faith alone; Faith is wrapped up between doing the things God instructs us to do from the first instruction to the last one. Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me” – not “keep the faith.”

Is it too simplistic to just point out that Jesus constantly tested people to prove their sincerity?

Cleombrotus on August 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM

The question is predicated on a false assertion. People learn externally – knowledge is not infused in their mind. Jesus walked among His Father’s creation as a teacher. You and God both know your sincerity of your thoughts; there is nothing to gain in debating the sincerity of a thought with Jesus. The great value is in the lesson – following that, your choice to act upon it or not.

Now it’s done; we are true children of God and destined for that blessed union.

kcewa on August 17, 2014 at 11:03 AM

What you just wrote is that there is no hell or evil one. I’d like that to be real…

So, we have dead faith, which leads nowhere, and living faith, which begets works. It is our choice, for God would never distribute to some of us dead faith, or to others living faith. Jesus has told us that, too.

unclesmrgol on August 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Excellent point. Scripture is rich in examples of God stomping out dead faith. There’s a great argument in there somewhere explaining how “Christians” are less religious than “Pagans” but pagans give their false idols credit for everything that happens irrespective of it being a good or bad thing.

If anyone adds works to saving faith and teaches that, they teach a heresy.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

In the millstone business?

I’ve never understood why an omnipotent, omniscient God would have to sacrifice his only begotten son in order to be able to forgive the sins of his own creations.

DarkCurrent on August 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

You are liking the yes-man types better than those that have free will? Consider contemplating the effort to simply be to forgive sin instead of to forgive the sins. Big difference.

Abraham was not saved by faith alone.
Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Painfully true. And using a flint knife to perform his work too! Circumcision identified your body as being in a covenant with God. ”Thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant.” This practiced survived in all the descendants of Abraham through the nation of Israel. History tells us that the nation of Israel was flattened around 70 AD so Paul was quite apt in repurposing circumcision to be performed inwardly on one’s heart thereby opening the gates to all of God’s people instead of only the Jews and instead of outwardly by marking the genitals of a stiff-necked nation.

…to spread caritas and the saving Word of God. When we do, we may find that those self-imposed boundaries only keep us from fulfillment, both in Christ and in ourselves, and that no other people are “dogs” at all. Instead, we all have the potential to be true children of God, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

August 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Straight into the trusted reference file with that one. Gracias.

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

you’re ticket

you’re given a ticket

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Okay … but I’m not the one who’s interpreting Colossians 3:23-25, Romans 2:5-11, John 5:28-29, John 3:36, and Matthew 25: 31-46 as meaning there’s something beyond simply, “PRAYERFULLY accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD” that is necessary towards achieving eternity with God.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:57 PM

Yes, I believe you are interpreting those passages incorrectly if you do not see them saying that you need to cooperate with God and His grace for your salvation after you have been given the gift of faith.

To me those passages are obvious. Maybe you would like to tell me FROM SCRIPTURE and discussing the exact words in those named passages why you believe otherwise. How you dismiss the plain words in those passages.

I will also pray for you. I truly appreciate your kind heart. Thank you.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Abraham was not saved by faith alone.
Elisa on August 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Painfully true. And using a flint knife to perform his work too! Circumcision identified your body as being in a covenant with God. ”Thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant.” This practiced survived in all the descendants of Abraham through the nation of Israel. History tells us that the nation of Israel was flattened around 70 AD so Paul was quite apt in repurposing circumcision to be performed inwardly on one’s heart thereby opening the gates to all of God’s people instead of only the Jews and instead of outwardly by marking the genitals of a stiff-necked nation.

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Being a female, of the many works that Abraham did before God called him righteous, I concentrated on having to pack up all his family and belongings and move.

But, yes, I guess circumcision is a harder work. lol. Sorry I didn’t mention that one. lol

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM

. . .As a former altar boy/ devout Catholic, I need to inform you that it wasn’t Peter that Jesus was referring to as the Rock upon which He would build His Church but, rather, that statement of faith he uttered; that which Paul called the “good testimony”. . . .

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Even most Protestant Bible scholars today will tell you that Jesus was not simply talking about the “declaration of faith” but was calling Simon Peter/Cephas the “rock.” They just disagree as to Peter’s leadership being a continuing office. They believe it ended with his death. Catholics look to the language used by Jesus and Old and New Testament Scriptures and the history at the time and believe the “chief steward” was a continuing office of our Davidic King forever, Jesus Christ.

The whole “little rock/big rock” theory that came up a few hundred years ago is erroneous linguistically and historically and Biblically.

Wish I had tome to continue here, lot’s can be said to prove that.

But I have a ton of things today and have to run.

God bless all here.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Even most Protestant Bible scholars today will tell you that Jesus was not simply talking about the “declaration of faith” but was calling Simon Peter/Cephas the “rock.” They just disagree as to Peter’s leadership being a continuing office. They believe it ended with his death.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

I would never claim that ANYTHING Jesus said contained only one teaching nor would I claim which of the innumerable teachings was the primary teaching but in the context of my dialog with Fishing, it is the relevant one.

I would agree that Jesus gave Peter authority to “bind and loose” and that there is a hierarchy of authority in the Body, but, as you say, there is no record of Peter ever transferring that authority to any other so their relying on an institution of elected Pontiffs as some sort of Biblical authenticity is unreliable, at best, and if unreliable, they should not place Scriptural authority on it.

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Saved from what?

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Upon obtaining (having) saving faith, you are saved from the penalty of sin.

Through the lifelong process of sanctification, you are saved from the power of sin.

Upon death and your entrance into Paradise, you are saved from the presence of sin.

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Your suggestion of something as simple as saying “ok” just explodes all that I know of God instructing us to “do this…”

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Yes, the notion of free grace (redundant) explodes a lot of heads.

Our pride tells us that we must have to do something.

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Yes, the notion of free grace (redundant) explodes a lot of heads.

Our pride tells us that we must have to do something.

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Grace comes to you with zero effort. You’re saying you simply become imbued with irrevocable / eternal grace once you know Jesus to be Lord and Saviour. How do you come to know that you have even received the gift of grace?

What is the penalty of sin?
What is the power of sin?
What is the presence of sin?

Should I not be able to escape sin simply by not knowing sin? If I can escape sin the same way I can attain grace, what would I ever need grace for in the first place?

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Should I not be able to escape sin simply by not knowing sin? If I can escape sin the same way I can attain grace, what would I ever need grace for in the first place?

ericdijon on August 18, 2014 at 4:09 PM

.
Because of Adam’s sin in the “Garden Of Eden”, … ALL … of his subsequent posterity (and that’s ALL of us … period) were born to the “sin condition” … BY … DEFAULT.
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It doesn’t matter … that it doesn’t seem “fair” … for us to have to suffer this condition/situation, because of what the “first Adam” did.

But the “last Adam” made a way for those persons willing to believe and “swallow some pride”, to re-establish their personal relationship with God that the “first Adam” lost for us.

listens2glenn on August 18, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Okay … but I’m not the one who’s interpreting Colossians 3:23-25, Romans 2:5-11, John 5:28-29, John 3:36, and Matthew 25: 31-46 as meaning there’s something beyond simply, “PRAYERFULLY accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD” that is necessary towards achieving eternity with God.

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:57 PM

.
Yes, I believe you are interpreting those passages incorrectly if you do not see them saying that you need to cooperate with God and His grace for your salvation after you have been given the gift of faith.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

.
I really believe that what we are “given,” when we “PRAYERFULLY accept Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD,” is an experience that Jesus called “born again,” when He was speaking to Nicodemus in Gospel of John, chapter three. Nicodemus didn’t know quite how to respond, as the whole statement by Jesus seemed ‘illogical’. He asked Jesus, “how can a man go back into his mother’s womb, and be born a second time?” … Jesus replied, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh … and that which is born of the spirit, is SPIRIT.”

We (you, myself, all of us) don’t have a spirit . . . . . we ARE a spirit.

We have a SOUL … made up of our ‘intellect’, ‘emotions’, and our ‘WILL’.

And we (spirit, with it’s soul) live inside a physical BODY.

When we genuinely address God in prayer to ask to be “born again”, we become RE-CONCEIVED, IN SPIRIT, … AS CHILDREN OF THE LIVING GOD … right THEN and THERE … “boom”.

And once you become “re-conceived in spirit”, as a child of God … you … can’t … “LOSE” IT.
.
There is scripture that indicates a “spiritually mature” person CAN decide to throw it away, like the first Adam did. However, that is a WHOLE ‘nuther subject.

listens2glenn on August 18, 2014 at 8:11 PM

To me those passages are obvious. Maybe you would like to tell me FROM SCRIPTURE and discussing the exact words in those named passages why you believe otherwise. How you dismiss the plain words in those passages.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

.

This isn’t the only one … it’s just the first one that comes to mind :

[I John 3:1-12] . . . . . (copy’n’pasted with the verse numbers removed)

Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon (given) us, that we should be called the sons of God! Therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.
Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.
And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him is no sin.
Whosoever abides in Him sins not; whosoever sins hath not seen Him, neither known Him.
Little children, let no man deceive you. He that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.
He that commits sin is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither is he that loves not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning: that we should love one another. Be not as Cain, who was of that wicked one and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

.

I will also pray for you.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

.
And I won’t turn it down . . . . . that is, unless you’re going to petition God to “smite” me with something BAD.
.

I truly appreciate your kind heart. Thank you.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

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. . . . . ( * * b l u s h * * ) . . . . . . . . . you’re welcome.

listens2glenn on August 18, 2014 at 8:35 PM

The moment you have saving faith several things obtain: you are regenerated, justified, sanctified wholly, imputed with the righteousness of God, adopted into the family of God, seated with with Christ at the right hand of God, become a co-heir with Christ, sealed in and with the Holy Spirit. This is your forensic standing before the Father. Before any works.
davidk on August 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Regeneration — the new birth — must come first.

They that are in the flesh cannot please God. The Carnal mind is enmity w/ God.

We must become something other than “of the flesh.” We CANNOT make ourselves something other than that-God must do it.

Having new, Spiritual life breathed into us, we are no longer condemned, no longer dead, but are pardoned and MADE alive by the Spirit of God.

Only then can we please God. Only then do we have a new nature that is capable of comprehending and actively seeking that which pleases God. Only then can we exercise faith, and the foundation for faith is a recognition of God’s work, which we are incapable of seeing until He changes our nature.

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 9:57 PM

The penalty of sin is separation from the father.

The power of sin is that hold on us that keeps us from living fully human.

The presence of sin? Look around you.

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 9:59 PM

l2g, I had a follow-up last week as well, if you care.

Oh, and THIS TIME I have a linky thingy.

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 10:01 PM

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 9:57 PM

I have to reject the teaching that regeneration comes first. That is nowhere taught in Scripture and is a doctrine developed by Reformed theologians to support their notion that God give man the faith to believe.

Saving faith is not something you do; it is something you have.

John Wesley taught the idea of prevenient grace (that grace which comes before), but I am not sure about that either.

Carnal man, man living according to the flesh, including carnal Christians, cannot please God because they are not living in faith (I am not referring to saving faith here.)

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Saving faith is not something you do; it is something you have.
davidk on August 18, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Not all men have faith. Where does saving faith come from?

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM

I have to reject the teaching that regeneration comes first. That is nowhere taught in Scripture and is a doctrine developed by Reformed theologians to support their notion that God give man the faith to believe.

The doctrine certainly predates the reformation. See Augustine, for instance. Also, some scriptural support:

Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 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; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;7 that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Where does saving faith come from?

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM

From hearing the Gospel.

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 10:44 PM

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Titus only confirms what I have been saying.

The moment you have saving faith several things obtain: you are regenerated, justified, sanctified wholly, imputed with the righteousness of God, adopted into the family of God, seated with with Christ at the right hand of God, become a co-heir with Christ, sealed in and with the Holy Spirit. This is your forensic standing before the Father. Before any works.

These things, this salvation occurs before any works because it happens at very very money one has saving faith. The same instance.

Theologians talk about those things I listed as being logically prior to each other. For example, regeneration happens logically prior to adoption. You can’t be adopted if you have not been regenerated. But they happen at the same moment of time in our reckoning.

davidk on August 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 10:55 PM

Works vs. work:

“What can we do to perform the works [plural] of God? ” they asked.

Jesus replied, “This is the work [singular] of God — that you believe in the One He has sent.”

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 11:57 PM

I inadvertently posted this on the other thread (Sunday reflection: 2014-08-10) when it was intended for here.
Sooo … here I am, transferring it to here :
.

Jesus
. . . . . Is
. . . . . . . LORD

.
listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM

.
Ain’t no doubt about that!

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

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That three-word statement is the one premise that ALL persons claiming to be Christian believers should … be able to find “common ground” within. You can disagree with me on EVERYTHING else, but that.

If someone who claims to be a Christian believer doesn’t believe that statement, then what is their so-called “Christianity” based on?
.

I’ll just restate the question from my previous post, which I hope you will weigh and give your thoughts on :

How is it possible that anything should happen outside of the will of the Omniscient, Omnipotent God?

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

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“Adam’s lease” is why things happen (in this “physical” dimension) AGAINST GOD’S WILL . . . . . it’s my ‘point-of-contention’ that God’s WILL … is … NOT … IN … CONTROL … of what’s happening in this “physical dimension”, right now. However, I don’t claim to “know everything” any more than anyone else here, so I’ll stand corrected when the need of such correction become revealed to me.
And that’s how it should be with everyone. None of us can change our minds, just because some other “well-meaning person” else told us to. Things must be “revealed” to a person if there’s a correction needed, as pertains to theological belief and discourse.
.

God bless you l2g. I’ve always appreciated the good-humored, forgiving nature of your posts.
The few times I’ve seen anything other than that from you is after your patience has worn thin with some of our resident trolls. But hey, answer a fool, or answer not a fool; it’s hard to tell with them sometimes.

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

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Awww . . . . . . . . . you’re gonna make me “blush” like Elisa: )

listens2glenn on August 19, 2014 at 12:46 AM

listens2glenn on August 19, 2014 at 12:59 AM

listens2glenn on August 17, 2014 at 9:57 PM

.
Yes, I believe you are interpreting those passages incorrectly if you do not see them saying that you need to cooperate with God and His grace for your salvation after you have been given the gift of faith.

Elisa on August 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

.

Saving faith is not something you do; it is something you have.

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 10:07 PM

.
Not all men have faith. Where does saving faith come from?

questionmark on August 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM

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Faith comes by hearing the word of God … No one will accept Jesus as Savior and LORD, until they believe in His death, burial, resurrection, and subsequent status (then, now, and for ALL TIME) as LORD of ALL.

If you haven’t the faith to believe that much first (in sequence), then you’re unable accept Jesus as Savior and LORD.

Either an individual reads the Bible themselves, and responds by faith to something that became revealed to them, due to what they read . . . . . OR . . . . . an individual responds by faith, that came from hearing some other believer who presented the truth of Gods Word in some fashion or another.
Intercessory prayer is another way by which believers can cause the truth of Gods Word to become “revealed” to unbelievers whom they are “burdened” over.
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My point (and I think it’s davidk‘s as well) is that FAITH must come first in sequence … BEFORE any individual person “wills by choice” to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD.

listens2glenn on August 19, 2014 at 1:33 AM

listens2glenn on August 18, 2014 at 8:35 PM

My friend, you have not specifically discussed Colossians 3:23-25, Romans 2:5-11, John 5:28-29, John 3:36, and Matthew 25: 31-46 and
explained to me how you dismiss the plain language in those passages.

The passage you did post does not go directly to this question. I am sure you do not believe that once we have faith we never sin again. So I am not getting how this passage supports your belief that it is not faith and works together that save us by His grace alone. That it is only faith, no works necessary to cooperate with God’s grace.

This passage is talking about serious unrepentant habitual sinners not being saved, that they are not in a state of grace. Actually that goes to how we are to have works and when we sin repent. So it goes to my point of faith and works together.

And later in that chapter it says this (1 John 3:23):

“And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”

Here again the Bible is telling us its faith and works together. Not faith alone.

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 7:53 AM

Works vs. work:

“What can we do to perform the works [plural] of God? ” they asked.

Jesus replied, “This is the work [singular] of God — that you believe in the One He has sent.”

davidk on August 18, 2014 at 11:57 PM

Another example of plucking a sentence out of the Bible and not taking the Bible as a whole.

This would be like if someone took James 2 or Galatians 6:7-9 and said one doesn’t need faith, only works.

Take ALL the Bible into consideration.

Such as this when another person asked Jesus what is needed for salvation and he answered:

Matthew 19:16-17:

“Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”*
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.* If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 7:57 AM

I would agree that Jesus gave Peter authority to “bind and loose” and that there is a hierarchy of authority in the Body, but, as you say, there is no record of Peter ever transferring that authority to any other so their relying on an institution of elected Pontiffs as some sort of Biblical authenticity is unreliable, at best, and if unreliable, they should not place Scriptural authority on it.

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 1:57 PM

I never said that. Actually history does show that Peter did hand pick a successor. Clement I, who declined and either one or tow others became Bishop of Rome. Then Clement became Bishop of Rome and his First Letter to the Corinthians shows that all Christian regions looked to the Bishop of Rome (in the 1st century) as having some sort of authority.

All the Eastern Churches at a minimum held the Bishop of Rome as being first among equals. Even today, many Eastern Orthodox do. Obviously all the Eastern Catholic Churches today (who are not part of the Roman Catholic Church) are united with the Bishop of Rome and are fully Catholic. (Note: the Catholic Church is made up 90% of only one of its Churches – the Roman/Western/Latin Church. But there are about 21 other Catholic Churches with different liturgies and customs and disciplines that mirror the Orthodox.)

Wish I had time to talk about the Scriptures about the office of the Chief Steward.

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 8:03 AM

My point (and I think it’s davidk‘s as well) is that FAITH must come first in sequence … BEFORE any individual person “wills by choice” to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD.

listens2glenn on August 19, 2014 at 1:33 AM

Exactly. Well stated.

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 10:37 AM

“Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”*
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.* If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 7:57 AM

You are not “plucking a sentence out of the Bible and not taking the Bible as a whole” here are you?

There are actually two ways to heaven. Trust in the work of Jesus. Or lead a perfect sin-free life.

If you wish to enter into life, keep all the commandments perfectly.

I want everybody to understand that I am not talking about being a Christian and not following the Lordship Of Christ. We are called to be holy, separate from the world.

Once we are saved we start a livelong growth process (sanctification) whereby we become more and more like Jesus.

There should be a distinctiveness about us that is noticeable. Most people will be offended. A few will be attracted and will want to know why.

Our society and culture is so far away from the holiness God desires of us that we have lost the knowledge of a live apart from the world. (Sanctification means being set apart.)

That is why Bible study is crucial. The “washing of the Word” and the “renewing of our minds” can only take place as we read, study, meditate, and hear God’s Holy Word.

The value in a forum such as this is that it forces deeper into the Word. The debates we have at Hot Air, both secular and religious, is why Hot Air is such a standout among blogs.

Thank you Ed, Allah, and the others for your hard work.

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.~Paul the Apostle

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 11:13 AM

“Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”*
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.* If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 7:57 AM

You are not “plucking a sentence out of the Bible and not taking the Bible as a whole” here are you?

There are actually two ways to heaven. Trust in the work of Jesus. Or lead a perfect sin-free life.

If you wish to enter into life, keep all the commandments perfectly . . . . .

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM

No, Sir. I am not plucking anything out of the Bible. If I were to say that all that was necessary after grace for salvation was works alone by quoting that passage, then, yes, I would be plucking. Same as when someone uses a sentence that we need faith for salvation and takes that to mean all that is necessary after grace for salvation is faith alone. That would be plucking.

Catholic and Orthodox belief is that after being given God’s grace for both faith and good works, both faith and good works are necessary for salvation. That we cooperate with God’s grace in our own salvation. Even if our part is only 0.0000001%

Now I am confused by your next sentence. Do you also then believe that faith and works are necessary for salvation? Not just a good thing to do and a likely thing for Christians to do.

If so, then we are in agreement and both using the entirety of the Bible to support our beliefs.

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 8:03 AM

And I never said what you are attributing to me.

What I said was that Peter never transferred the authority of “binding and loosing”. Of course they picked successors. That’s the entire point of “feed my lambs, tend my sheep”. Lambs grow into sheep and beget other sheep.

And I wish I had the time to go into THAT Scripturally.

Cleombrotus on August 19, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Same as when someone uses a sentence that we need faith for salvation and takes that to mean all that is necessary after grace for salvation is faith alone.

That is not what I’ve said. Read what I said re: holiness.

I think it is helpful to see salvation as containing three stages.

The first stage: regeneration.

The second stage: sanctification.

The third stage: glorification.

In this way we can make sense of Scriptures that seem to contradict.

The first stage is as I outlined above:

The moment you have saving faith several things obtain: you are regenerated, justified, sanctified wholly, imputed with the righteousness of God, adopted into the family of God, seated with with Christ at the right hand of God, become a co-heir with Christ, sealed in and with the Holy Spirit. This is your forensic standing before the Father. Before any works.

These things, this salvation occurs before any works because it happens at very very money one has saving faith. The same instance.

This is our forensic (legal) standing before God. The only way to enter into the Presence of God is for us to be perfect, and God has allowed us the grace and mercy to be just that: perfect.

We are save from the penalty of our sinful lives, and stand before God as Holy and Righteous as Jesus Christ.

The second stage is sanctification where we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

I discussed that above:

I want everybody to understand that I am not talking about being a Christian and not following the Lordship Of Christ. We are called to be holy, separate from the world.

Once we are saved we start a livelong growth process (sanctification) whereby we become more and more like Jesus.

There should be a distinctiveness about us that is noticeable. Most people will be offended. A few will be attracted and will want to know why.

Our society and culture is so far away from the holiness God desires of us that we have lost the knowledge of a live apart from the world. (Sanctification means being set apart.)

That is why Bible study is crucial. The “washing of the Word” and the “renewing of our minds” can only take place as we read, study, meditate, and hear God’s Holy Word.

We are saved, progressively (sometimes instantaneously), from the power of various besetting sins. It is a lifelong process.

The first is our standing, the second is our experience.

The third stage is glorification about which I have not said anything. That occurs at death or the end of time. We are saved from the presence of sin and our standing and experience are the same.

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM

FishingwFredo on August 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

*Sigh* I’m disappointed that you felt it necessary to slip in the Roman Catholic advertisement.

Cleombrotus on August 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

*Sigh* I”m disappointed you refer to quoting and referencing the plain language of the Bible as “a Roman Catholic advertisement.”

FishingwFredo on August 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

The value in a forum such as this is that it forces deeper into the Word. The debates we have at Hot Air, both secular and religious, is why Hot Air is such a standout among blogs.

Thank you Ed, Allah, and the others for your hard work.

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM

and
davidk on August 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM

++ x million.

pambi on August 19, 2014 at 3:13 PM

And I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jesus’ hand-picked rock upon which to build his church was so human and flawed, the one who often seemed to engage mouth before brain, the one of whom Jesus earlier said, “O ye of little faith” and “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

There’s a powerful message in the choice of Peter. Perfection is not required; only love of the Lord and belief.

FishingwFredo on August 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

And I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jesus’ hand-picked rock upon which to build his church was so human and flawed..

FishingwFredo on August 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Tell me you weren’t here proselytizing for your specific denomination.

Prior to this we were having good fellowship. Then you slip in Roman Catholic doctrine. It’s dishonest.

Cleombrotus on August 19, 2014 at 6:31 PM

From hearing the Gospel.
davidk on August 18, 2014 at 10:44 PM

Faith comes by hearing the word of God … No one will accept Jesus as Savior and LORD, until they believe in His death, burial, resurrection, and subsequent status (then, now, and for ALL TIME) as LORD of ALL.
If you haven’t the faith to believe that much first (in sequence), then you’re unable accept Jesus as Savior and LORD.
Either an individual reads the Bible themselves, and responds by faith to something that became revealed to them, due to what they read . . . . . OR . . . . . an individual responds by faith, that came from hearing some other believer who presented the truth of Gods Word in some fashion or another.
Intercessory prayer is another way by which believers can cause the truth of Gods Word to become “revealed” to unbelievers whom they are “burdened” over.
.
My point (and I think it’s davidk‘s as well) is that FAITH must come first in sequence … BEFORE any individual person “wills by choice” to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD.
listens2glenn on August 19, 2014 at 1:33 AM

How do dead men hear? How do dead men respond?

Our will is bound to our nature. We will never choose the things of God because our nature has no desire for those things, and, indeed, abhors them. Our fallen nature likewise desires only those things abhorrent to God. Our nature is only evil continually until it is changed by God.

This is the new birth spoken of by Christ to Nicodemus. It is the perfect corollary, for just as we have NOTHING to do with our physical birth, so we have NOTHING to do with our spiritual birth. In each case all we do is LIVE over time and thru growth the life given to us by God.

Only then do we have ears to hear the declaration of the Gospel. Only then do we have eyes to see His Word as anything more than literature. Only then does the Spirit of God dwell in us, revealing the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. This is where the response of faith occurs. This is where we cry Abba, Father. This is where we repent, and seek to do those things pleasing to God.

questionmark on August 19, 2014 at 6:59 PM

FishingwFredo on August 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I’m afraid I owe you and everyone else here an apology.I’ve been thinking about it and realize that the mistake is with me, not you.I realize that this is basically a Roman Catholic forum and if I don’t want to hear Catholic doctrine, I shouldn’t be here.

My apologies.

Cleombrotus on August 19, 2014 at 7:29 PM

But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.~John

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 11:35 PM

Elisa on August 19, 2014 at 7:53 AM

questionmark on August 19, 2014 at 6:59 PM

.
Honest … I haven’t gone into hiding. I’ve just run outta time to give proper, thoughtful replies . . . . . my apologies.

listens2glenn on August 20, 2014 at 1:36 AM

davidk on August 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM

I understand what you are saying. In fact, if you remember, on a previous thread I agreed with the exact words you used in that previous thread and posted excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that showed agreement.

I understand that your particular beliefs on this topic are not simplistic.

Here though there seems to be a nuanced difference than that other thread.

Can one enter into Heaven/salvation without that sanctification process. And if they cannot, then isn’t that sanctification process necessary for salvation? That is what Catholics believe.

Some may die right after receiving saving grace and faith. Some may die right after baptism. Yes those will go directly into Heaven, dying in a state of grace. No sins. No further good works, other than accepting Our Lord and His grace.

But for the rest of us, we need to continually repent of our future sins when we do them and we need to cooperate with His daily grace and do His will, which are works.

Elisa on August 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM

It’s important to remember that even the good works that we do are done because of God’s grace. He gives us the grace for good works and we can never do them on our own, apart from God.

While there are some Protestant/nondenominational Christians whose beliefs are very different from Catholic and Orthodox beliefs on this. I think many times for most Christians, the different beliefs on this topic are merely semantics.

Catholics and Orthodox believe that we are saved by grace and that both faith and works are necessary for salvation, that we cooperate with God’s grace.

Many Christians believe that it’s not necessary for works to be necessary because a Christian will automatically do the good works by his very nature of being a Christian and if he doesn’t then he wasn’t a true Christian anyway.

But if you look at that, they are saying the good works are not necessary for salvation, but they are necessary to be a Christian, which is necessary for salvation.

Look to my first sentence here. No Catholic or Orthodox person is saying that our good works are ours or that we are entitled to salvation because of them or that we earn salvation because of them. Even our good works come from God’s grace.

God doesn’t need our good works to save us, but He expects them and requires them, according to Scripture alone and Sacred Tradition.

Elisa on August 20, 2014 at 8:54 AM

I hope some of you are still reading here, even though it’s off the main page.

At Mass this morning I was thinking of our discussions here and I thought of another way we can look at it to illustrate the point that Catholics and Orthodox do not believe we earn salvation by good works.

A person buys all the materials to build a house and designs it and even builds it all by Himself, out of love for you. Even furnishes and decorates it.

Then He gives the house to you as a gift and hands you the key. You use the key to enter into the house where you can life forever.

The only requirement He has of you is that you clean the house and keep it tidy. Some weeks you may forget and you just apologize. But you cannot continue to live in the house if you never clean it and it becomes a pigsty.

He is still under no obligation to let you live there, even if you do clean. But by His nature, He is just and keeps His promises.

He will even supply you with the cleaning products and even motivate you each week to do the cleaning. He could clean it Himself, but He wants you to clean it.

Here is my question:

By working in that house every week cleaning it, did you earn the house? Did you build the house? (not to sound like Elizabeth Warren, lol)

You may say that any normal grateful person would clean the house anyway, but that doesn’t mean all would and it doesn’t mean that it still isn’t the requirement to continue living there.

Whatever the builder Giver requires of you to remain in the house does not mean you have earned or merited that house. Or even earned the right to stay in the house. That too is a continuing gift by a just Giver who keeps His promises.

Elisa on August 20, 2014 at 9:08 AM

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