Lying to Death (part ii)

5 06 2006

[Included here are sermon notes from Sunday morning at Omaha Bible Church. Also included are applicational questions for further review and meditation (Col. 3.16)]

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The most dangerous thing about these lies is that they are giving people assurance when they do not have anything to be assured about. Some feel that if they are busy doing religious stuff and then everything will be ok with God.

The Word is the most powerful tool to lie-proof us as Christians. God uses the Scripture in concert with the Holy Spirit to confront, change, and equip us.

Lie number one was discussed last week (that you can earn your way to God, or that you can earn part of your way to God). When we understand the depths of the depravity of Ephesians 2, where we are spiritually dead, with nothing to offer God, save our own hostility, we magnify the cross, exalt its power in our lowliness.

The only bragging rights in Christianity are Christ’s!! (cf. Gal. 6.14).

In this study we’ll consider the 2nd Lie that Too Many People Believe:

A person can be saved and not live a life of good works

Many people misunderstand biblical Christianity because they do not know where the good works fit in. Remember that we were dead in our sins and God makes us alive; but alive for what?!

Look at Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Why did God save the sinner by faith alone, in Christ alone? To have you continue on your way to hell? C’mon!!

What did the all-powerful God do when he saves sinners? Notice that that he creates believers in Christ Jesus for good works! Salvation leads to good works, this is the design!

Unless, of course you are willing to promote and defend a theology that states that God is a failure. For God says that he prepared the good works!!

This is simple in the classroom, but it is the application to the people that you may care about; those who profess Christ but live for the devil. Remember that we are not called by God to build our worldview by our experiences, but to submit humbly to his word and then evaluate your world from there.

The cart and the horse analogy works well here. The good works are not the horse but the cart. The good works come after salvation (the horse). If you confuse the two, and put the cart before the horse you have a different religion…but do not deny the cart, it is there!! Good works come, but it comes after salvation!

This is all over the Bible. If you don’t like Paul…I’ll give you Peter; if you don’t like Peter…I’ll give you Jesus….if you don’t like Jesus…well then you have a bigger problem.

Titus 2:13-14 Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

The text here is connected to the cross, to make believers greedy for good deeds!! How do you spot believers? They are zealous for good deeds!! They used to be led around by the nose by the devil, but now they are free to do good deeds, zealously!!

This is all tied to the cross!! It magnifies the cross! Jesus didn’t just try like a weakling to save! He secured sinners from themselves, and implanted new passions in them to glorify his son. The grace of God is so powerful that it doesn’t leave a sinner dead and acting like one on his way to hell!! It actually changes lives…how powerful is this grace!!

Jesus concludes his loving Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 7:21-22 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'

Notice that Jesus casts them into hell not because they did not make a profession of faith, but because they did not obey him! Their lack of obedience demonstrates that they were actually hypocrites!! Remember that the good works come after salvation.

Luke 6.46 Jesus asks why professing believers do not obey him. Why do you call me Lord and then not obey? This is the ultimate example of taking the Lord's name in vain!! For it is this empty profession of faith that is far more deadly and deceiving vain speech.

All professing believers should be constantly examining and evaluating their lives to be certain that they are indeed regenerate! Contemporary evangelicalism often tells folks not to look hard at their lives and profession, but the Bible does quite the opposite:

2 Peter 1:10 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you;

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

1 John 2:4 4 The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

1 John 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

We must be sure to quote the following verse in light of the previous verses in the context of 1 John…

1 John 5:11-12 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

Ephesians 5:5-6 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

We are supposed to know these things with certainty. God saves by grace and lives change.

Be careful not to affirm yourselves or others who have no fruit just to make them feel better only to lead them to the end of Matt. 7 to have them greeted by an angry Savior who never knew them!! Rather, lovingly exhort them by the truth to the truth that they may know them for certain! We have a responsibility to God and to others to tell them the truth.

-application questions………………………………………………………

  1. Identify the place of ‘good works’ in salvation.
  2. Why is it so important to keep the ‘cart’ (salvation) before the ‘horse’ (good works)? What happens if the two are reversed?
  3. The salvation of ‘bad’ sinners is a great demonstration of God’s goodness. Run through the book of Titus and identify the placement of the word ‘good’. Discus what is ‘good’ in the life of a believer as a result of God’s grace.
  4. Have you ever found yourself affirming another’s salvation based upon emotion rather than upon fruit?
  5. Why is this dangerous? What would the most loving and God honoring thing to do be?
  6. How does the reality of Ephesians 2.10, specifically the fact that Almighty God has prepared “good works” for you to do, affect your day to day life?
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25 responses

6 06 2006
David Tarvin

That is very interesting. It sounds very similar to my church’s position. Here is a segment of tract from my church for your enjoyment:

Paul tells us: “For [God] will reward every man according to his works: to those who by perseverance in working good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. There will be . . . glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality” (Rom. 2:6–11; cf. Gal. 6:6–10).

In the second century, the technical Latin term for “merit” was introduced as a synonym for the Greek word for “reward.” Thus merit and reward are two sides of the same coin.

Protestants often misunderstand the Catholic teaching on merit, thinking that Catholics believe that one must do good works to come to God and be saved. This is exactly the opposite of what the Church teaches. The Council of Trent stressed: “[N]one of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification; for if it is by grace, it is not now by works; otherwise, as the Apostle [Paul] says, grace is no more grace” (Decree on Justification 8, citing Rom. 11:6).

The Catholic Church teaches only Christ is capable of meriting in the strict sense—mere man cannot (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2007). The most merit humans can have is condign—when, under the impetus of God’s grace, they perform acts which please him and which he has promised to reward (Rom. 2:6–11, Gal. 6:6–10). Thus God’s grace and his promise form the foundation for all human merit (CCC 2008).

Virtually all of this is agreed to by Protestants, who recognize that, under the impetus of God’s grace, Christians do perform acts which are pleasing to God and which God has promised to reward, meaning that they fit the definition of merit. When faced with this, Protestants are forced to admit the truth of the Catholic position—although, contrary to Paul’s command (2 Tim. 2:14), they may still dispute the terminology.

Thus the Lutheran Book of Concord admits: “We are not putting forward an empty quibble about the term ‘reward.’ . . . We grant that eternal life is a reward because it is something that is owed—not because of our merits [in the strict sense] but because of the promise [of God]. We have shown above that justification is strictly a gift of God; it is a thing promised. To this gift the promise of eternal life has been added” (p. 162).

6 06 2006
Justin Potts

When I first read David’s comments I was taken back by the fact that he was asserting that Protestants and Catholics both held similar views on merit. And I was prepared to defend the differences in those views, when I realized that was the fundamental problem with the position: “merit.” For implied in the very word itself, is the idea that a person deserves some sort of reward.

I would like to propose that the notion any discussion of merit earned by the believer before or after conversion is opposed to the teaching of scripture. For as Paul says in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Or as he asserts later in 11:5 “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” Clearly, Paul understood that the basis of a person’s salvation was not any merit on the part of the person being saved, but was the result of God’s gracious gift based solely on the righteousness of Christ. The moment that we begin to think that our good deeds and any “merit” or “reward” they may gain us is the basis for our salvation, we have ascribed to a different gospel.

But what of those works we perform as believers, you might ask? Surely they please God and will be rewarded by God, but the real question is why? God is pleased by the believer’s good works done in faith, because ultimately they are “good works, which GOD prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10). So we see that the good deeds we do are not our works, but His. Even more Paul writes in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” If Paul has died and Christ now lives in him, who is the one acts through Paul in accomplishing good works, is it not Christ and if so who deserves the reward for those works: us or Christ? If God prepared them and Christ performs them through us, it seems that He is the one who deserves any merit for the good works that we do.

Paul could not have summed up his position on the ability of a man to some how merit his salvation by doing good deeds or obeying the law better than this: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Galatians 2:21).

(Please note those addressed in Galatians are people who thought that obeying the law in addition to having faith in Christ was the means of salvation. Paul said those who preached such a gospel were to be is to be accursed (Gal 1:8).

6 06 2006
David Tarvin

Justin:

Good thoughts. However, I have compared the tract I posted (not my own writing) with what you have said. I see no disagreement in the positions. Would you mind pointing out the specific statements in my post with which you disagreed?

6 06 2006
David Tarvin

Here is a great article clarifying the meaning of the word “merit” and comparing the viewpoints of Catholics and Protestants.

7 06 2006
erik

David-

You reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I want to be clear that I am not advocating any type of middle ground with Rome. For they are clearly opposed to justification by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone… as the Council of Trent made quite clear in Canon 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."

If this post was read in conjunction with its preceding post it would perhaps be clearer that that this is not in concert with Catholic teaching, as the first “lie” of the 2 lies was that anyone could be saved by anything but by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone.

The central position of the post is the evidence of justification (point in time, legal declaration of perfection based upon the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ and applied through faith in Christ, Rom. 3.24-27; 4.1-5; 5.1; Gal. 2.16) will be clear…the believer will demonstrate the “good works” that God has prepared beforehand for the elect to do (Eph. 2.10). If these good works are absent in sanctification (the process of spiritual growth and conformity into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ) then one has biblical reason to question whether or not justification has actually taken place (cf. the litany of verses added onto the end of the post).

So at the end of the day, if you are suggesting that these posts don’t sound like what you hear in today’s evangelical circles then you are right, but if you suggesting that this is more like Rome then you are incorrect. For we are taking fire from both sides! Both Trent and many popular evangelicals would anathematize us!!

7 06 2006
Travis Carden

"God is pleased by the believer’s good works done in faith, because ultimately they are “good works, which GOD prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10). So we see that the good deeds we do are not our works, but His." – Justin Potts

Good point, Justin! (And good application of Galatians 2:20.) I am reminded that, in a discussion of merit–or worthiness, if I may–there is one worthy, who is the Lamb (Revelation 5:11), and we are His reward! Romans 8:29, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren". "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36)

7 06 2006
David Tarvin

Looks like I forgot to include the link to the article. Here it is.
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9510fea3.asp

The article addresses your quote from the Council of Trent, Erik.

7 06 2006
Justin Potts

David:

Being a former Catholic and having read Catholic publications, I am aware of their ability to interwine truths with lies. So to answer your question, I will limit myself to the statement involving the Decree on Justification:

"Protestants often misunderstand the Catholic teaching on merit, thinking that Catholics believe that one must do good works to come to God and be saved. This is exactly the opposite of what the Church teaches. The Council of Trent stressed: “[N]one of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification; for if it is by grace, it is not now by works; otherwise, as the Apostle [Paul] says, grace is no more grace” (Decree on Justification 8, citing Rom. 11:6).

On the surface this quote sounds very convincing, however, a deeper look into the entirety of Decree on Justification will quickly reveal that the Roman Church teaches a salvation that is founded on a person’s works, in addition to God’s grace.

“our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified” (Decree on Justification, 7)

“through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works” (DJ, 10)

If the work of baptism is a requirement of justification, then it is no long of faith but of works. Are we saved “through faith” as Eph 2:8-9 says or are we saved by baptism? Does faith need to “cooperate with good works,” certainly not…it needs to produce them!! The biblical position is that faith = justification (salvation) + good works, while the Catholic position is faith (trust) + good works and merit = justification (salvation).

“Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.” (DJ, 16)

Even the statement that proceeds the section you quoted in indicates that faith is only starting point to which works must be added?

“But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely,[44] these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification,”(DJ, 8.)

Is faith the “beginning” of salvation or is cause of salvation? Clearly the Catholic Church’s official position is one in which faith only the starting point of one’s salvation, once a person has faith they must do good works in order gain merit in order to enter heaven. Moreover, the fact that they believe a person can some how lose salvation shows that they believe a person’s works are a basis for their salvation.

"Against the subtle wits of some also, who by pleasing speeches and good words seduce the hearts of the innocent, it must be maintained that the grace of justification once received is lost not only by infidelity, whereby also faith itself is lost, but also by every other mortal sin, though in this case faith is not lost; thus defending the teaching of the divine law which excludes from the kingdom of God not only unbelievers, but also the faithful [who are] fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins, from which with the help of divine grace they can refrain, and on account of which they are cut off from the grace of Christ." (Decree on Justification, 15)

All I can say is that if salvation was a gift and despite the fact that a person was a sinner (fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners…to name a few.) God granted them salvation. Why would he take it away from them later? The idea is blasphemous! If is of grace and not of works then you can do nothing to gain salvation or to lose salvation. (Though your life may demonstrate that you never had it to start with.)

In the end my problem with the Catholic position, and even many mainline Protestant positions, is that we some how merit salvation. As long as I believe the right thing and do enough good things I will get into heaven. Yet if “all our righteous acts are filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6) we will never in all eternity earn enough merit or produce enough good deeds to get us out of hell, let alone to get us into heaven. In the end the only “work” a person can do is beg God to have mercy on them and trust that He will be gracious to them.

Why then should a person do good works? Simple…out of appreciate!!! If there is a lack of good works in a person’s life it means they do not truly understand or appreciate what Christ did on Calvary and God’s gracious gift to them.

7 06 2006
Justin Potts

David, I just finished reading the link you posted, and two things jumped out at me.

First this quote:

“The Council says that “the gifts of God are also the good merits of him justified.” Is this saying “salvation means God does half and we do half?” No. It is saying something far more radical. It is saying that God does it all and we do it all.”

This makes them seem far more heretical than I orginally thought for instead of making salvation the work of God, who predestined, called, justified, and glorified those whome He has predestined to the praise of His glory (Rom 8:28-30, Eph1:3-14), it ascribe the work of salvation to men who at most contribute their rebellious hearts and sin tained lives (Rom. 7).

Second, it helped me realize we are talking about meriting to different things. Clearly, no one will argue that you can merit grace, because that would be like saying you earn a gift. What I am saying is salvation is NOT a result of faith AND works or faith AND fruit. Works or fruit are only evidence of already being accepted unconditionally into the family of God by His gracious mercy. The only thing that will save a person is THE MERCY OF GOD demontrated in His granting (giving, gracing) them, through faith, a right standing before Him on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

8 06 2006
erik

David-

I think Justin did a pretty good job answering and interacting with the Catholic Church. In light of what the Council of Trent says (infallible according to Rome) I’m confused by any statement by a Catholic that would assert that Protestants wrongly represent a Catholic plan of salvation that includes works (i.e. baptism, pennance, etc..).

Much of the Protestant position, we would assert the biblical position, could be summarized as Justin said in this thread:
“through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works” (DJ, 10)

“If the work of baptism is a requirement of justification, then it is no long of faith but of works. Are we saved “through faith” as Eph 2:8-9 says or are we saved by baptism? Does faith need to “cooperate with good works,” certainly not…it needs to produce them!! The biblical position is that faith = justification (salvation) + good works, while the Catholic position is faith (trust) + good works and merit = justification (salvation).”

This is accurately representative of what was taught at Omaha Bible Church the last couple of weeks.

So therefore, to your original statement that “That is very interesting. It sounds very similar to my church’s position”…either this statement is a result of not uderstanding the Catholic teaching or not understanding what was posted.

The heresy that plagued the Galatian church (judiazers) is a great-grandfather to what we see in Catholic churches today. The addition of anything (even something that has the appearance of not being bad – circumscion or baptism–) is subtraction when it comes to the sufficient nature of Christ’s sacrifice. This is why Paul drops the anathema on them in Gal. 1.

Galatians 1:6-9 6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Galatians 2:16 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

Galatians 2:20-21 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

The salvation equation of Rome logically undermines Christ’s crosswork…it is here that we are worlds apart. The blood of the reformers testify to this.

I appreciate your comments, and would like to hear your interaction with what has been written.

9 06 2006
David Tarvin

Well, gentleman, I have much to respond to in your posts. Unfortunately, I have been buried for the last few days with work. To tide you over until I can address your very thoughtful comments, I have posted the relevant portion of one of the Church’s latest official statements on justification over at my own blog. You can view it at omahacatholic.blogspot.com. In the meantime, I will try to address your specific points some time this weekend. Have a great weekend!

9 06 2006
erik

Thanks for the update. With all due respect, I’m going to hold off looking at anything else from Rome until we deal with the biblical issues that have been addressed in this thread. thanks!

10 06 2006
David Tarvin

I am happy to discuss the biblical passages with you. However, I first want to make clear that you are lifting statements from the Church out of context and misreading, misinterpreting or misapplying them. I’m here to defend the true position of the Church. If we want to get to the truth, you need to be willing to “look at stuff from Rome.”

Okay, let’s talk about Galatians. The Galatians were converts of Paul. After their conversion from paganism, they were told by other missionaries that they had to follow the Jewish laws, including circumcision, in addition to following Christ. When Paul learned of this, he wrote his letter to set the Galatians straight.

In the first part of his letter, Paul recounts his own conversion to Christianity (Gal. 1:11-24). He then states that he had his revelation of preaching to the Gentiles, which he presented to the leaders of the Church – “those in repute” (Gal. 2:2). He then recounts how Titus came in uncircumcised, and how “false brothers” tried to enslave them – a reference to the Jewish Christians that claimed circumcision was required (Gal. 2:3-5). However, those of repute – the leaders of the Church – did not require Paul to change his teaching (2:6). Instead, the other Apostles saw that Paul was to preach to the uncircumcised, just as Peter was to the circumcised (2:7-9).

Paul then recounts how Peter came to Antioch and would eat with the Gentiles until other Christians arrived (2:11-13). Jews were not to eat with Gentiles because the Gentiles did not observe the dietary laws of the Jews. Paul publicly rebukes Peter, saying, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (2:14). Paul then states:

15 We, who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, 16 (yet) who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.17 But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? Of course not! 18 But if I am building up again those things that I tore down, then I show myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ;
20 yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Gal. 2:15-21).

In this section, when Paul says “works of the law,” he is clearly referring to the Jewish law, i.e. circumcision, kosher diet, etc. He and the other Apostles had been engaged in this discussion about whether the Gentiles needed to follow the Jewish laws to be saved. Now that Christ has died for our sins, the old covenant is of no value. As Paul points out in Gal. 2:21, if a person were justified by obedience to the old covenant, there would be no need for a new covenant.

Paul continues: 1 O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? 3 Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4 Did you experience so many things 5 in vain?–if indeed it was in vain. 5 Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard? 6 Thus Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Gal. 3:1-6).

Paul confronts them and asks whether they were justified by the Jewish law or by faith in Christ. He points out that they converted through faith, but now think they need circumcision to complete the process, i.e. “ending with the flesh.” He states that if they think so, their prior experiences were in vain. Again he asks whether they are saved by the old covenant or the new covenant. He then states that Abraham was justified through faith in God (the old covenant was not established until after Abraham had believed in God), just as the Galatians had been.

Paul then states that faith is what matters for the Gentiles, saying that God foretold this through Abraham (3:7-9). He says: 10 For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.”11 And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for “the one who is righteous by faith will live.” 12 But the law does not depend on faith; rather, “the one who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,” 14 that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (3:10-14).

Paul mentions the law by itself as well as in the phrase “works of the law.” Again, the emphasis here is on the redemption of Christ as doing away with the old covenant, the Jewish laws. If this is not clear enough for you, Paul states exactly what he means in Gal. 3:16-22:

16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his descendant. It does not say, “And to descendants,” as referring to many, but as referring to one, “And to your descendant,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to cancel the promise.

(Clear reference to the institution of the Jewish law.)

18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it is no longer from a promise; but God bestowed it on Abraham through a promise.

(Emphasizing that Abraham was justified by faith and not by the old covenant.)

19 Why, then, the law? It was added for transgressions, until the descendant came to whom the promise had been made; it was promulgated by angels at the hand of a mediator.

(Explains that the old covenant was necessary only until Christ arrived.)

20 Now there is no mediator when only one party is involved, and God is one. 21 Is the law then opposed to the promises (of God)? Of course not! For if a law had been given that could bring life, then righteousness would in reality come from the law. 22 But scripture confined all things under the power of sin, that through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe.

Paul finishes this discourse by clarifying where the Gentiles now stand in relation to the Jews:

23 Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. 24 Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. 26 For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Thus ends his discourse on the application of the Jewish laws to the Gentile Christians. I will be back in a little bit to review the rest of Galatians, as well as the other passages quoted in this thread.

10 06 2006
Justin Potts

David,

I would like to start by asking you which “statements from the Church” have I lifted and quoted out of context? To simply say that I have done an misdeed without demonstrating how I have errored proves nothing. In fact, my original quote was to say that you lifted a quote from a Catholic publication that did not accurately reflect their theology.

While the Catholic church will assert justification by faith alone, it is quickly shown that the practical outflow of their theology is that one must have faith AND be baptized in order to be justified.

“The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism.” (CCC 1987)

“Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.” (CCC 1992)

“The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. (CCC 1999)

It seems pretty clear to me that the offical Catholic position is that a person must have faith AND be baptized in order to be justified. If this is the case then faith + baptism = justification is no different than the Galatian herisy of faith + circumcision = justification.

10 06 2006
David Tarvin

Let’s be clear about what we’re discussing. Erik’s original post was about having faith but not living a life of good works. The question on the table is whether one is required, after having found faith, to perform good works in order to get to heaven. Baptism is a different issue, as it is not a “good work” that you would go out and perform. It is something you would receive. Now I am happy to discuss that topic also, but let’s deal with one issue at a time.

As for my discussion about Galatians 1 through 3, my wife found my dissertation somewhat confusing. Let me explain. In Justin’s first response (Comment 2), Justin quotes Gal. 2:20 , 2:21, and 1:8 to support his assertion that one need not perform good works. Erik did the same thing in paragraph 3 of comment 5 and in comment 10. However, as I have laid out in Comment 13, Paul was not addressing good works performed by the Galatians nor, for that matter, baptism. Paul was specifically addressing the need to follow the mandates of the Jewish law – circumcision and dietary restrictions. Paul is very clear about what he means by the Law and works of the Law.

If you want to talk about good works, then let’s talk about Galatians Chapter 6. Paul says:

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. 4 Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to himself alone, and not with regard to someone else; 5 for each will bear his own load. 6
One who is being instructed in the word should share all good things with his instructor. 7 Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, 8 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. 9 Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. 10 So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.

Paul states SEVEN TIMES in the above 9 passages that we must continue to do good works. This, after having already told the Galatians that they have come to know God, and thus have faith. Paul states emphatically that we will be measured according to our works.

This is evident in other books of the Bible as well, but I will have to address those later, as my children are desperate for me to join them in a game…;)

10 06 2006
Justin Potts

David,

“The question on the table is whether one is required, after having found faith, to perform good works in order to get to heaven.”

Question of clarification: My understanding is that the Catholic position is that once you have found faith you are required to perform good works to get to heaven. Is this accurate?

I believe the biblical position to be that if one is saved they will demonstrate a live reflecting that reality. If a “believing” person’s life does not demonstrate a changed life, it demonstrates that their faith was not genuine, but that they had decieved themselves, and were never saved to begin with.

Thanks for your interaction, as I do not want to falsely represent a belief system even if I do not believe it is faithful to scripture.

10 06 2006
erik

David,

In answering Justin’s question in comment #16, perhaps you would also define what you mean by the following terms, as I have found that many Catholics and Reformed folks use terms interchangeably but not necessarily synonymously…

Grace:

Faith:

Justification:

Sanctification:

Salvation:

Merit:

Sacrament:

10 06 2006
David Tarvin

The following two paragraphs are from the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, issued a few years ago by the Lutheran World Fedaration and the Catholic Church

37.We confess together that good works – a Christian life lived in faith, hope and love – follow justification and are its fruits. When the justified live in Christ and act in the grace they receive, they bring forth, in biblical terms, good fruit. Since Christians struggle against sin their entire lives, this consequence of justification is also for them an obligation they must fulfill. Thus both Jesus and the apostolic Scriptures admonish Christians to bring forth the works of love.

38.According to Catholic understanding, good works, made possible by grace and the working of the Holy Spirit, contribute to growth in grace, so that the righteousness that comes from God is preserved and communion with Christ is deepened. When Catholics affirm the “meritorious” character of good works, they wish to say that, according to the biblical witness, a reward in heaven is promised to these works. Their intention is to emphasize the responsibility of persons for their actions, not to contest the character of those works as gifts, or far less to deny that justification always remains the unmerited gift of grace.

Notice the last line, that this position is not to deny that justification is the unmerited gift of grace. I think Father William Most said it well when he said, “Final salvation is an : 1 Cor 6:9-10. We could not earn the inheritance, nor need we do it, but we could earn to lose it. Ibid.”

In other words, the Church believes, as the Bible states, that you can lose your salvation by your subsequent actions or inactions.

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul warns his audience against overconfidence. He recounts how the Hebrews were saved and brought to the desert, but then were struck down due to their evil (10:1-5). Paul then warns the Corinthians against doing evil (10:6-11). Paul says in verse 12, “Therefore, whoever thinnks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.”

In Matthew 24, Jesus is warning of the calamities to come. He says: “12 and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who perservere to the end will be saved.” This is a recognition by Christ that people can accept Him but then fall away.

Paul also makes this clear in Romans 11:17-24. He compares the Gentiles to wild olive shoots grafted onto the olive tree (11:17). He states that the other branches, the Jewish people, were broken off because of unbelief, but that the Gentiles are there by faith (11:18-20). So he has clearly stated that they are in faith. BUT then he tells them that they may YET fall away if they are not careful.

“20 So do not become haughty, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either. 22 See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.”

As I pointed out earlier, in Galatians 4, Paul stated that the Gentiles there had received Christ. Then in Galatians 5, he says “4 You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness.” So Paul thought it was certainly possible for a person to know Christ but then to fall away.

Hebrews 6:4-6 describes Christians who had embraced the faith but then fallen away. The Christian audience was in danger of apostacy due to the weariness of dealing with the demands of the faith. The purpose of the letter was to strengthen them in their faith. In Heb. 5:11-6:3, the author states that the audience has become sluggish and needs renewed instruction. He then states:

4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit 5 and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt.

The author does not describe these people as false brothers, or as people who only pretended to join the faith. He describes them as having actually tasted Christ’s gift and then fallen away.

For brevity’s sake, here are just a few more references:

Hebrews 10:9-12: 9 But we are sure in your regard, beloved, of better things related to salvation, even though we speak in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. 11 We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

Hebrews 10: 32-36
36 Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. 33 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated. 34 You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. 36 You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

Paul acknowledges that even he could fall if he is not careful. 1 Cor. 9:26-27. 26 Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. 27 No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

Back with more later.

14 06 2006
erik

David-

I think this conversation is meandering away from a common framework. The initial discussion concerning whether or not what OBC was preaching is or is not similar to your church, or the Catholic church, I believe has been proven to be false. As we have said, in our view, the good works that accompany true saving faith are evidences of salvation. They are not meritorious in any way, nor do they prevent damnation, but rather just come along with genuine heaven wrought life when a sinner is born again and give evidence of this salvific grace (cf. Eph. 2.1-10; Titus 2.11-14; 3.5-7).

With justification being all of grace so to is preservation. God provides the grace to keep the one whom he has saved. As one person has said, “the saints in heaven are just as secure as the true saints below” for God keeps them, because God is able, as Jude, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus writes:

Jude 1:24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

There are a number of other passages, which I will address shortly in a post concerning perseverance of the saints, however, in the meantime I want to just hit the few verses that you reference here:

1 Cor. 6.9-10: I find it interesting that this verse is quoted, as the passage is so clear as to the saving change that has occurred in the life of those who have received the demerited favor of God (grace). They were this way (fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous…) but they were washed — God using salvation terms here (justification, sanctification) in the name of the Lord Jesus. The whole point here is that salvation (here the justification & sanctification verbs are passive, again showing the power of God’s active grace as opposed to the human striving as the primary means of obtaining).

1 Cor. 9.26-27: You wrote: “Paul acknowledges that even he could fall if he is not careful” Does he? It seems pretty clear that the context is that of preaching the gospel-
v.16…if I preach the gospel
v.19…that I may win the more.
v.20…to the Jews I became a Jew
v.22…to the weak I became weak
v.23…I do all things for the sake of the gospel…

His whole point here is an undying burden for the gospel to go forth and he is saying that he disciplines himself, dealing with his flesh, so that he does not disqualify himself, that he does not render himself a hypocrite whose message is undermined by his shaky testimony. This disqualification does not refer to salvation but proclamation.

1 Cor. 10– Paul here is warning against the perilous evil of self-dependence, which is idolatry. This evil is what provoked the Lord to judge the Nation of Israel. And Israel becomes an example for those who would follow God not to crave evil things (v.6, 11). That believers would stand firm depending on God, not taking his grace for granted and constantly waging war on the heart. Again, I believe we are seeing here a solid exhortation to those who would profess to follow God yet deny him by their deeds, and who by this evidence that they are not true followers of him, but of self and Satan (cf. v.21).

Matt. 24:12-13-You wrote: "This is a recognition by Christ that people can accept Him but then fall away"…this passage does not say anything about people “accepting Christ” and then falling away. It talks about false prophets misleading people and sin increasing. However, it does say that those who endure are the ones who are saved…or to put it another way: the saved endure to the end.

Romans 11.17-20: Again David, believers believe and unbelievers do not. It is as simple as that. Why are Gentiles saved? Because of grace. How are they saved? By faith. Therefore, how in the world could a Gentile ever think that they are better than a Jew (or anyone else for that matter!). The gospel leaves the believer in a constant posture of dependence and praise, realizing that it is only by grace that we stand, not by self-dependence, but God dependence. Genuine saving faith believes, and genuine saving faith perseveres (because of divine grace) even to the end (cf. Romans 8.29-39) because it is God that started the work and God that will finish the work on the elect (cf. v.33).

Gal. 5.4: The one who has “fallen from grace” is the one who “receives circumcision” for this one is “under obligation to keep the whole Law” (v.3). If you turn away from the pure grace of Christ through the gospel and receive something additional to Christ to work as a salvific auxiliary before God (i.e. circumcision) you have fallen from grace. You mention in your previous post that it is not fair to compare baptism to the Galatian heresy. I disagree. The root issue with the Judiaziers was adding to the gospel, specifically the addition of Law keeping or “works” as Paul repeatedly calls it. Whatever is added, even that which is ostensibly “good” or “religious” is insulting to the Christ who died to pay the whole penalty. Even in 5.6 the point is that such works are invaluable. When Rome adds baptism to the salvation equation it is subtracting from the cross. The works of the Law may be the issue in Galatia but baptism is an appropriate stepchild of circumcision. As an aside most covenantal folks see baptism as the NT example of circumcision, or the sign of the covenant. So, it is not unfair to group baptism in with the Galatian anathema. And by the way Galatians 1 opens the door to reject a gospel from any and everybody who preaches one contrary to that which has been received. The scope of rejection is pretty broad.

Heb. 6.4-6: This is admittedly a tough passage. However, I don’t think that it teaches that you can loose your salvation. I would understand this passage as referring to those who have been experienced the grace of God through the body of Christ, and who have then turned away…there is not another option for salvation outside of Christ. And this is the point in all of the strong exhortations not to turn away from Christ (cf. 2.1-4; 6.4-8; 10.26-39; 12.25-29). The contrast between those who have fallen away and the genuine converts in 6.9 is clear: “but, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation…”.

My motives for asking you to define terms in comment 17 is to have some frame of reference. I intend to post something here in the near future on the salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification) and will interact with Rome’s teaching in this. We are moving into a new building here this week and I have a fairly heavy preaching schedule in the coming months, so bear with me. If you would like to talk further in the meantime, please email me otherwise, I am going to close this comment thread here. I look forward to further dialogue, while I am convinced that you and I see divergent views on the place of works in the life of a believer as well as the security of the believer in Christ.

14 06 2006
David Tarvin

No time for a full discussion at the moment. Just a few quick responses to your last comment:

1. “The initial discussion concerning whether or not what OBC was preaching is or is not similar to your church, or the Catholic church, I believe has been proven to be false.”

I suppose, but the real issue then is – who is right? 😉
AND – Is your view of the Church’s position correct?

2. “You mention in your previous post that it is not fair to compare baptism to the Galatian heresy.”

That is not what I said. What I said was:

“Baptism is a different issue, as it is not a “good work” that you would go out and perform. It is something you would receive. Now I am happy to discuss that topic also, but let’s deal with one issue at a time.”

I am happy to show you passages that prove the necessity of baptism. All I was saying was that it is a topic separate and apart from the “faith plus works” topic, and that we should deal with one topic at a time. In any event, you are ‘interpreting’ when you read baptism into the list of items you thing are proscribed in Galatians. Doesn’t that violate your rule of “sola scriptura?” 😉

As for the definitions, I have simply not had time to even continue my responses to Justin’s arguments. You’re lucky – you can do this as part of your job…lol. I don’t see why you would close the thread though. No reason your readers and I can’t continue this discussion. Besides…comments boost your search results!

15 06 2006
erik

David,

RE: #1 in comment 20:
I appreciate your two conclusions: 1) who is right 2) is my view of Rome correct
It is there that I would like to pick up with you as time permits in the weeks ahead. I have to laugh at your comment concerning me doing this as “part of my job”…for the record blogging is a hobby not a profession…=^D

Regrettably it is here in the pursuit of who is right that a lot of dialogue with Roman Catholics breaks down. In order to proceed on the same terms you would have to say that Scripture is the ultimate authority and the final rule for determining such disputes or I would have to agree that the Church’s teaching is authoritative in interpreting the Scriptures. I am definitely not going to agree to the later, perhaps you would agree to the first?

RE: #2 in comment 20:
“Baptism is a different issue, as it is not a “good work” that you would go out and perform. It is something you would receive.”

Circumcision was also something “received”: “…the one who receives circumcision, is under obligation to keep the whole Law” (Gal. 5.3). I do think baptism infused into the salvation equation is consistent with the root problem Paul was addressing.

I have enjoyed this conversation and appreciated your tone throughout. Often times discussions such as this fail to maintain a gentleman’s tone. I appreciate what appear to be good motives on your part.

I would like to know what you would agree to in terms of authority for further discussion (cf. paragraph 2 above). This will prove quite helpful in our discussions.

Erik

30 06 2006
David Tarvin

Erik,

I guess you will have to further enlighten me on the “rules” of sola scriptura. I always thought that sola scriptura meant the bible had to state a rule in order for the rule to apply. For instance:

“Circumcision was also something “received”: “…the one who receives circumcision, is under obligation to keep the whole Law” (Gal. 5.3). I do think baptism infused into the salvation equation is consistent with the root problem Paul was addressing.”

How is that position consistent with sola scriptura? The passage doesn’t say baptism is the same as circumcision when it comes to salvation or justification – that is just your interpretation of what you think the passage means.

Suppose a member of your congregation disagrees with that position. Do you tell that person that his or her interpretation is incorrect? If you do, then are you not using the same type of “teaching authority” in interpreting the Scriptures as the Church?

As to the “ultimate authority,” while I would not agree that Scripture is the final rule, I certainly feel capable of discussing most of the issues using Scripture. But I am curious about something. What was the ultimate authority before the Scriptures were assembled? Was it not the oral teachings of the Apostles as handed down from Christ? And would not the views of those who received such teachings directly be of use in knowing the faith?

I say this because I find the writings of the early Church fathers to be especially illuminating. Irenaeus, for example, who was taught by Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John. Justin Martyr is another. What is your view of their writings? If Irenaeus, for example, makes a statement about the Lord’s teaching on baptism, do you regard it as credible or not credible, and if not, why not?

Back in a bit…

30 06 2006
erik

David,

You ask for the ‘rules’ of sola scriptura (SS)…we don’t have rules, per se…but there are definitions and deductions.

Here are some of what SS is not and what it is…(taken from James White’s The Roman Catholic Controversy…a great read, perhaps it would be helpful ;-D…)

What SS it is not a:
1. claim that the Bible contains all knowledge
2. claim that the Bible is an exhaustive catalog of all religious knowledge
3. denial of the Church’s authority to teach God’s truth
4. denial that God’s Word, at times, has been spoken
5. rejection of every kind or use of tradition
6. denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding the church

What SS is:
1. Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith.
2. The Church is in need of no additional revelation outside of Scripture
3. There is nothing infallible outside of the Scripture
4. Scripture reveals all things necessary for salvation.
5. All traditions are subject to the higher authority of Scripture.

If I understand your questions right it seems as though you are talking about a hermeneutic rather than my view of SS (which of course drives my hermeneutic just as my hermeneutic drives my bibliology).

When I read Galatians I can understand that Paul was extremely angry because certain religious people were relying upon and teaching others to rely upon a religious work to accompany their faith for justification. The root of the problem was the addition of works into the salvation equation, and for the Judiaziers this was circumcision.

I do not see how the association of Rome’s view of baptism with the Galatian heresy is inaccurate. Just because the text does not say baptism does not mean that what Rome is doing does not apply. For they are of the same seed; both are adding something one does (or receives if you prefer) to the cross. And by the way Paul’s opening words in the epistle declare open season on any teaching that is not lining up with the gospel of faith alone (Gal. 1.6-9).

You reference ultimate authority. The apostles served as the foundation of the church (Eph. 2.20). They served a particular purpose and as apostles they carried the authority of Jesus Christ (as they were apostles of Christ). Sometimes Catholics think that Protestants believe that everything that Paul ever said was inspired..this is not true! When you read 2 Tim. 3.16 we see clearly that it is the text that is inspired, or more literally breathed out by God. Not the man. With the text having their very source in the divine mouth as it were, they are all infallible, sufficient, and ultimately authoritative.

God has been graciously providing revelation throughout redemptive history. We believe in progressive revelation, that God has been revealing himself throughout the ages. So what is the date that you are referring to as the “before the Scriptures were assembled?”

So as far as early church fathers, I enjoy reading them as well. However, their words, while often times edifying (like James White’s ;-D) they are not breathed out by God, so therefore are not Scripture, so therefore not infallible. Everything that everyone says, whether Irenaeus, yourself, John Calvin, my pastor, whatever…are all subject to the authoritative self disclosure of God in the Scripture, for this is the final authority.

See…the more we talk the less we have in common 8^D

Look forward to hearing back from you.

17 08 2006
Jason Goodman

I haven’t quit read everyone’s comments, but in reading I came across so many things I would like to comment on, that it all got backed up in my mind. So, I will keep it top of the water at first and then see what is said back to me and enter “into the ring” that way, instead of writing a book to all of you, even though my response will probably be lengthy. Erik, is there any way you can change your website so that I can copy and paste instead of opening up another window and typing something somebody said so I can comment on it? Just curious.

Justin Potts said, “My understanding is that the Catholic position is that once you have found faith you are required to perform good works to get to heaven. Is this accurate?”

You know, let’s look at scripture…

In Colossians 1:21-23, it says, in context of course and not just one verse… ” 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–

23 IF INDEED YOU CONTINUE IN THE FAITH FIRMLY ESTABLISHED AND STEADFAST, AND NOT MOVED AWAY FROM THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL THAT YOU HAVE HEARD, (emphasis added) which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

It is also very clear in Phil 2:11-13, “11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is (A)Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 So then, my beloved, (B)just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your (C)salvation with (D)fear and trembling; 13 for it is (E)God who is at work in you, both to will and to work (F)for His good pleasure.” It’s pretty clear here that we work out our salvation, obviously with God’s help as He is the one who would work in us. Paul mentions running the race, but more than running, to finish the race. It’s all about how we finish out, which would mean being in a state of God’s grace, friendship with Him, having a right, healthy relationship with Him before we die.
It’s also pretty clear that if we discontinue our continuance in the faith, then we do not go to heaven, IF we die in that state. It is clear in another passage, James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead, and especially in verse 24 that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. I know what your thinking now and I’ll sum your words up with something Tony Reinke once said to a buddy of mine,

“On James-you wrongly assume that James is making an argument of how someone BECOMES saved rather than authenticating that someone IS saved. Paul in Romans and Galatians clearly shows how one BECOMES saved. Here in James, the story is much different. Look at the wording: “show me”. In other words, the contrast in James is not between faith and works but between dead faith and living faith. In v. 24 you also assume that Gk. dikaioun (justified/righteous) is being used as ‘justified’ which could very well mean ‘righteous’ (as Jesus used it) to mean “a man is shown to be righteous by works and not by faith alone.” ,which would do justice to the context of the passage as well.

What is the difference between faith and works and dead faith and living faith? Either one is dead or one is living. James is not talking about dead or living faith, but simply FAITH and WORKS and he is contrasting the two for a believer. Granted, God does all the work in the sinner, the Catholic Church agrees with this. Tony says, “very well mean…” is he sure or not sure here? You guys also keep saying things like, “I believe…” Well, are you 100% sure or is it something that YOU believe? Faith is faith and if you don’t have works, or LOVE, (1 Cor. 13), then you don’t have a relationship with Christ and if you stay in that state, you will not go to heaven. The NT is clear that you must have both to have a right relationship with Christ. Works comes after faith, but they are needed. You can’t say that one can be a Christian and never do good works and still go to heaven. God does it all, and never backs away from us, we choose, through our selfish desires to walk away from Him, and He lets us because He gives us that free choice.

Just a complete side-note off the subject meant to start more discussions…might I add that there wouldn’t be a protestant “sect” at all if Martin Luther had not done what he did? Everything points back to the Catholic Church as being the one, true church. Just an FYI as my official stand. Take it however you want. I am sure I’ll get fire from Erik, I have to say, I love the guy, he writes great articles. I just may not believe all of them to be accurate. We are still brothers in the Lord though, even though there may be bad blood. I will still always show reverence and love towards him. I just wish I could have known you better Erik!!! 🙂

18 08 2006
Justin Potts

Jason,

I don’t know that we’ve ever met, I think you left OBC right around the time I started coming. In light of your commets, first of all, I know Erik well enough to know that he does not believe in “cheap” grace. He believes as the bible says that “faith without works is dead” and “That He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion. But I would draw your attention to one significant think, the demonstration of outward good deeds is not mean that someone is genuinely saved (born again). Simply Consider Romans 2:17-29:

“But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

Notice the list of things that this person can claim beyond circumcision: they are a Jew, they talk big about God, they teach others, they claim to be a witness to others, they know His will, they know the law; but the inner character of their life does not match their profession. They are like the people who thought that lust was different than adultery, coventing than stealing, and anger was different than murder. They failed to recognize that the inner principle was the same as an outward manifestation. They were part of the social community of Jews, but not a part of the spiritual community.

I see this type of thinking among Christians all they time. I go to church so I am saved. I talk about God alot so I must be saved. I have been baptized so I must hvae experienced the grace of God. I take communion so I must have expereinced saving grace. I read my bible so I must be a Christian. It is indeed a sad day when we have made Christianity into a mere preformance. Yet this is the published doctrine of the Catholic church, if you are batized you recieve grace, if you take communion you recieve grace, if you go to confession you recieve grace. Do you really think that God can be bought by such petty offerings.

In the end, the issue is not what you do. But has God had mercy upon you, has Christ died for you. And maybe more importantly have you realized that no matter what you do it never mean that you deserve God’s grace, after all even faith must be given to you.

The issue ultimately is the attitude of your heart.

Attitude 1: Stubborn and uprentant: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom 2:5)

Attitude 2: Broken and Repentant: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps 51:17)

Justin

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