Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Antonio Responds to a Critic

The following is a duo-sur-rejoinder to a sur-rejoinder of a rejoinder to a critique of my last post on John MacArthur.

In other words, it is a comment to a contender's comment who commented on my comment of his comment to my original post. (Can you say that 5 times fast?)

To see the previous statements of all comments relevant to this present post, please refer to HERE

I am sorry for the length, but it was necessary to answer the relevant points of his sur-rejoinder, to my rejoinder, of his critique of my last post.

Take some time, there may be somehthing here to chew on.

BEGIN DUO-SUR-REJOINDER (I think I might have made this term up!)
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You write:
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I am not imposing foreign distinctions on the bible, no
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You are not making any critical distinctions at all. Your proof texts don’t show anything but a relationship of works to faith, but you have failed to demonstrate just what that relationship is.

You write:
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And for Paul, faith and works belong together as the verses I have cited clearly demonstrate.
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I will not argue with that. You could have written far less for me to concede this! This betrays a deep misunderstanding of my position. They do belong together. The disagreement is in the biblical fact that faith, nevertheless, does not NECESSARILY result in any kind of perseverance in works. It should, it ought to! A purpose of our eternal salvation is to do the works that God has set up for us (Eph 2:10), but that this is a necessary relationship has been by far undemonstrated by your few proof-texts. Eph 2:10 uses the subjunctive “peripateswmen” in a purpose clause, “should walk”. Nowhere in this text is it adduced that it is a necessary relationship, but only that it is an expected relationship.

You write:
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Then what about those verses where Paul seems to play off works against faith? Confusion here is usually been generated by misunderstanding 'works' in Paul with 'good works'. By 'works', Paul means 'works of Torah'.
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Now this is merely pulling something out of your magic hat. That Paul means “works of Torah” is an exegetical stroke of genius that has been concocted to soften, mute and water down the biblical doctrine of faith alone in Christ alone apart from works of any kind. By works, Paul means just that “works”: activities of volition that in any sense could be looked at as meritorious, wage-earning.

“works” in Eph. 2:9 is anarthrous (as is Titus 3:5; Rom 11:6), meaning any quality or characteristic of work, which would include law, but encompasses the general arena of any volitional activity that has as to its essence “work”.

The confusion is to fail to recognize the role of faith to eternal life and the role of faithful works to the Christian life. Double-speak is the result. The “tension” and “paradox” and “mystery” of “Salvation is free, but will cost you everything…” This is nothing but sheer contradiction.


you write:
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This is just called a canon within a canon! One man's 'simple texts' are another man's 'confusing texts'. Who are you to decide which texts are the ones that are important and should be used to silence others?
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There are dozens of clear verses showing that eternal salvation is by grace through the intermediate agency of simple faith in Jesus Christ; that eternal life is received by simple faith in Christ.

Then when you come upon verses that superficially seem to equate salvation on works, what is the knee-jerk reaction of most? They encorporate these dissonant verses into their soteriology; thus corrupting the free gift of eternal life, and casting a large shadow on grace. This they do in spite of the well-articulated and reasoned expositions of them that show within their context and the greater context of the Bible that they are not talking about soteriology after all.

But the notion of free grace is so repugnant to people; because most are on the broad road to destruction that maintains that works of various kinds and purposes are necessary for eternal salvation.

You write:
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Or if one starts with the other verses (which may be more clear to other people) then this line of argumentation could seriously backfire on you! What part of the verses that I quoted were you confused about? What bit of the passages wasn't clear? They were all clear to me! Crystal clear!
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They are clear to me as well as having nothing to do with eternal salvation, nor of some supposed necessary relationship of works to faith. That you interpret them the way you do is because of your theology which you have brought to the text that has been handed down now for generations within the traditionalist denominations and text books….

You write:
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I am trying to intelligently exegete Paul by taking on board ALL that he writes – and not frantically trying to explain away 'problem verses'.
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I don’t believe that you are. I think that you have labored hard to support your insupportable position, having glossed over the clear and emphatic verses of Paul that put faith and works as anti-thetical in the sphere of soteriology. I believe that you have come to the texts with a works-righteousness mindset, with a traditional mindset, and have fallen into the same old traps and misinterpretations that have plagued reformed and arminian theologies for centuries, rather than affirming the simple declaration of “faith alone in Christ alone apart from works”, and using this simple affirmation as a basis for understanding the rest.

The Gospel of John was written so that people would exercise faith in Jesus for eternal life (John 20:31). This book is the only explicitly evangelistic book in the Bible. Wouldn’t you expect to find clear verses about the reception of eternal life? I would, seeing that is the purpose of his book. And yes, we are met there with the simple and straightforward teaching of Christ that conditions the reception of eternal life on simple faith in Him for it.

That John and Paul agree that eternal life and justification is not by works at all but through faith in Christ should be apparent to all. But it is not. For they have shunned the simple affirmations for their theology which they import into the text. I mean, how much more emphatic could this be:

“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Rom 11:6)

“…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).

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

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin’” (Rom 4:2-8).

Do you notice that Paul also uses “works” in relation to Abraham? But I thought that torah law came many generations later through Moses? I think this is the death-knell for your insistance that works = merely torah law.

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham” (Rom 4:16).

It is of faith (and not whatsoever of works) so it can both be by grace and be SURE. For if it is contingent even a shred on works whatsoever grace has been fatally compromised.

This is a short illustration of what I mean.
Let us say that you were on one side of a chasm and I on the other. The chasm is hundreds of feet deep with jagged rocks littering the way down. The chasm divide is 100 feet across. A tree on one side and one on the other side are roughly 110 feet in distance. You needed to come to me. I threw you one end of a 105’ rope (what a throwing arm I have! I should go pro!). You caught it, but the length of this fine, thick and heavily tested rope is too short. You propose that you will take up the slack using some dental floss you had in your pocket. I tie my rope end to my tree, you tie the rope and dental floss together and tie the other end of floss around your tree. What will happen when your 190 lb self tries to shuttle across this 99% thick, tested rope, and 1% of thin, dingy dental floss?

By your insistence of salvation being contingent in one way or another on works, you have fatally marred the simple message of the gospel and the relationship of works to the Christian life.

You write:
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I too believe it is in reasoned and well thought out exposition of the texts that matters. But this is exactly what commentaries are trying to do. Do you think commentaries are not about thoughtful exposition?
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Key word = “trying”. They are supposed to be. Yet they have their theological axes to grind and many of them go to great lengths to scripture twist in order to bang the tough texts into their paradigm. Rather than see the freeness of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship and subsequent rewards, they blend them together critically diluting the results.

You write:
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some of your earlier posts could have done with the help of some good sold academic commentaries to stop your flights of fantasy.
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Sir, my “flights of fantasy” involve very serious issues of God and faith. I hold to Christ alone, faith alone, and grace alone. If these are to be considered “flights of fantasy”, by you or any other kind, then I will triumphantly put on that mantle.

Grace is not popular. That salvation is absolutely free of any string, proviso, and caveat (such as insistence on adding works of any kind to it, on the front end, or the back end) is not popular. The way that leads to life is narrow: it is only by faith alone in Christ. The large majority on the broad road all share their theologies of works-related salvation in some respect or another.

You write:
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Driven by your ideological baggage you have managed to import so much foreign material into this passage that it would not be recognized by Jesus!
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Really?

1a) Matt 7:13
Enter by the narrow gate;

1b) John 10:9
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved

2a) Matt 7:21
"Not everyone who says to Me,'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

2b) John 6:40
And this is the will of Him [the Father] who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Please, for those reading this comment, refer to these VERY GOOD and VERY SHORT articles on Matthew 7:21-23

Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges have a brief discourse on this Passage
Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord

The passage under consideration says that you will know false prophets by their fruits. What are the fruits? They are wolves in sheeps clothing! Every outward appearance is that of a Christian. So “fruit” couldn’t mean their conduct! Fruit is the doctrine that they preach. If they preach anything but eternal salvation by grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ, they are false prophets. That their words are their fruit is easily demonstrated by looking at:

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' -- which you have not known -- 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (Deut 13:1-3).

“And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' -- when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut 18:21-22).

In conjunction with:

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:33-37).

You write:
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Do a study, and don't be afraid of modern commentaries and as they are all trying to wrestle with scripture, of what the word poiew (doing, making) in 'doing the will of God' means in Matthew.
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First, I love your reference to Matt 21:28-32! For it is a parable that takes a physical story and corresponds it to a spiritual truth. What was the point of his parable? That the Pharasees didn’t obey Jesus’ command to BELIEVE in Him:

“Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him’” ( Matt 21:31-32).

Also, the “doing” referred to in this context (Matt 7) is nothing special. Jesus can say this:

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’" (John 6:29).

And by your insistence that the will of the Father is works, you have frankly admitted to works-salvation, which doesn’t surprise me anymore, as many Reformed and Arminian alike are not ashamed of declaring, and this quite frankly!

You write:
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The problem was that they were evil doers
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As are everyone who has ever lived. These poor souls lacked the righteousness of Christ because they failed to do the will of the Father, which is to believe in the Son. They truly thought that entrance into the kingdom was by doing works in Jesus’ name. This is their claim to that kingdom. But we know that the only claim we can have on the kingdom is passively received by faith alone in Christ alone.

You write:
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I suppose that writing out the various possibilities of understanding of this genitive (not genEtive) will impress some of your readers!
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You seem to be arguing in the flesh and trying to get in the low shots whenever you can, as evidenced by your correction of my spelling.

You write:
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My point was that Paul speaks of faith and works together quite unperturbed by your seal to drive such a strong wedge between for theological reasons. Perhaps Paul wasn't being theologically sophisticated enough!
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Paul is the one who drives such a wedge between them when it comes to soteriology. In reference to justification before God, works and grace cannot mix, or it is no longer grace (Rom 11:6). But obviously it is quite natural to speak of works coming from faith in the life of the Christian. After all “The just shall live by faith." (Rom 1:17). Using our faith to produce works is essential in the Christian life. Works in any sense at all do not belong in soteriological theology, except to negate them as any condition whatsoever for eternal salvation. Works belong to the realm of the regenerate Christian’s life, in which he is both exhorted and commanded to produce works that please God. Why? The terror of the regenerate coming to Christ at His throne empty handed (2 Cor 5:11).

You write:
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No time to read them, sorry!
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You have time to write all of this and not to read 3 minutes worth of literature that bears on this subject? That reveals a hardened heart and mind toward learning that could very well persuade you. But that you are set in your ways and came here to argue is manifest to all.

You write:
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Some of this I totally agree with. However, in essence this is called 'special pleading'. I.e. make it to look like a passage says something other than it would naturally say in order to make it conform to an adopted theological position.
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I believe that your position that espouses works based contingency in soteriology as “special pleading” that goes against every clear text speaking as to it. Your whole case seems to me special pleading in light of the gospel of John (the only explicitly written book in the canon with the express purpose of evangelism) and Galatians (Paul’s express defense of the gospel). Both condition eternal life/justification, respectively, to faith alone in Christ alone.

You write
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And this is a distinction [rewards vs eternal salvation] I too maintain!
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If you do, you have been silent on it. The Bema of Christ is a rewards platform.

You write:
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You seem to be reading into the positions that you want me to have. My point was, in Paul, you cannot divide away faith and works as neatly as you have attempted to do.
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To the impartial reader, the quotes of Paul that I have above mentioned are emphatic. They require no “special pleading”. What does require special pleading is the position that Chris here takes in spite of these clear and emphatic declarations of Paul. He seeks to dwarf their emphatic and absolute nature by “special pleading” to weak exegetical proof-texting that does little if anything to support his contentions.

You write, referring to Romans 4:4,5
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom 4:4-5):
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I know, this is the great proof text! But proof-texting has its problems. I could proof-text lots of things, for example, the Christian universalist position (i.e. everybody will be saved), from Paul if I were to simply quote passages here and there without thinking about other passages seriously (i.e. not trying to explain them away with special pleading).
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Sir, how do you get out of the straight-jacket that Paul divinely equips to the antithetical nature of faith and works with specific relation to soteriology? The only way is to nerf the exquisitely emphatic declarations to fir your pre-held traditionalist theology!

“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12)

Paul is full of superlatively emphatic statements putting works and faith into indefectable anti-thesis, and I have quoted above. For you to merely gloss over them, dilute them, and casually dismiss them, is to commit grave theological error.

You write:
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I think I do understand what you mean by passive. I have seen the piece you refer to on your blog, and I have problems with the way you're handling Scriptures in that post too.
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Yet you do not employ your meager arsenal of proof-texts fashioned in order to bludgeon my position? No pithy statements found in your commentary tradition? Not even a word of dissention, except your paltry contention and denial?

You write:
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Well this is my point! I think it has demonstrated that faith and works must come together in Paul.
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This is the top! The scriptures you provided (and not all!) support a contention that faith and works have a relationship. But that “faith and works must come together in Paul” has only been confirmed in your own mind, and has done nothing to persuade the critical mind.

You wrote:
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For Paul, faith and works are intimately related.
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To which I wrote:
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This is actually displayed all throught scripture, but that I concede this happily does not mean I believe that works necessarily are produced by faith. They should be, we are commanded to add works to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-9, etc.).
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That you responded thus:
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These distinctions are, I suggest, entirely alien to Paul and his concerns. For him, faith and works belong together. And that is my point.
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To which I PRESENTLY respond: Entirely alien? Brother, what Bible are you reading? It only takes a cursory look at the superlatively emphatic passages I show from Paul (which by the way are not the extent of them) which puts faith and works, in the realm of soteriology, in perfect antithesis and contradistinction. Have you ever heard of the historical Reformation? You seem to be more comfortable espousing the canons of Trent.

You write:
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What is the only thing that matters for you? Is it faith? "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love" (Gal 5:6). I would suggest that this would be a good passage for you to mull over.
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I have just mulled it over. This is talking about the Galatian’s present disposition to leave grace principles after having been regenerated!

See this:

“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of law (both are anarthrous, by the way), or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:2-3).

Circumcision (a work of the flesh) in the Christian life counts for nothing. But the addition of faith to love (a work of the Spirit) profits in the time now and that which is to come.

I wrote:
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And there is no need to have the greek word "misthos" in a passage discussing rewards.
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To which you responded:
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I'm getting so confused by what is referring to where now that I don't know what passage we are talking about here. I need to look again at the original!

Ah, Romans 2!

Coloured? Totally disagree! One has to import the meaning of rewarding into this passage and it isn't simply about the presence or absence of a word but the entire flow of the argument at the start of Romans here in Paul's main themes. These strongly support my critique of Matthew. Go to the best academic commentaries and see for yourself.
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Actually I was talking about 1 cor 5:10ff. But this passage works just as well. Notice first that you appeal to the commentary tradition rather than proceed with reasoned, and observational exposition.

And as to your contention that “rewarding” has to be imported into this context, I guess you have failed to read this:

God "will render to each one according to his deeds" (Rom 2:6)

If this does not refer to rewards for deeds done, I do not know what the doctrine of rewards would look like! This is merit, this is wage-earning!

You write:
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This comment, I feel, shows what fundamentally divides our approach to Scripture. I am not talking about watering down Scriptures, but allowing all of scripture to inform my theology rather than taking the bits I like and employing surgery on the bits that seem to contradict my theology in order to stay 'safe'.
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If by “allow all of scripture to inform my theology” you mean take every passage you meet and throw it in to the blender of your soteriology (which you unapologitically do), I would say that you have failed.

Studying the Word has everything to do with “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Systematic theology should not be characterized by equating and harmonizing things within the same range and issue of doctrine (such as soteriology, for instance) that have already been emphatically distinguished.

You write:
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My goal is not a water things down but to appreciate all of the teaching is in scripture and to figure out how it all fits together
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This, too, is my goal. Yet I strive to do it in such a manner that does not blur the critical distinctions that the Bible rests upon. Your hermeneutic that you employ in order to “figure out how it all fits together” has mixed vinegar and baking soda into a pot which not only injures yourself, but overflows into the hapless inocents that subscribe to your teaching.

You write:
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your approach is unconvincing because it fails to deal with numerous passages of scripture – you merely try the 'special pleading' track that leads you down the dark wells of anachronism.
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I deal with every passage within the limits of context and language. There is no Scripture that does not fit with my position as a hand fits a surgical glove.

Your special pleading of these lesser passages has fatally marred the emphatic nature of Paul’s ardent expositions that clearly distinguish faith from works in the issue of soteriology.

You write:
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I understand what you're trying to say here that such a line of reasoning has been employed by those propagating universal salvation (I need that everyone will go to heaven). If there is contradiction in scripture that now frame of reference needs to be adjusted to understand that. Denying the contradiction, or downplaying a legitimate aspect in that 'contradiction of tension' is where you go wrong.
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Sir, my God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Not only does his word not contain a single “contradiction of tension” it does not include a single contadiction whatsoever.

Your theology NECESSITATES tension and contradiction, for you choose to look at the emphatic passages that completely distinguish faith and works within the confines of soteriological truth and mix them with admonitions to saved people.

YOU go wrong in supposing that there is some “tension” between faith and works in a soteriological aspect. If this were the case, how could anyone surely know the requirements or conditions of eternal right-standing with God?
You write:
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Your rhetoric concerning 'works' is anachronistically reading back 'good works' back into the context Paul was addressing. This is something the so-called New Perspective is attempting to work through, even if they have problems of their own!
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I have already shown you how your claim that works = torah law is a desperate attempt to salvage a sinking ship.

I write:
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It is quite evident that the terms "enter" and "inherit" are astonishingly different. John 3 tells us that entering and merely "seeing" the kingdom of God is based upon simple faith in Christ.
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Which necessitated you to write:
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The question: Was there this big theological distinction in Paul's mind? If we're going to read the Bible in its context (and not merely as a book that fell from the sky yesterday), then we will have to say no!
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Sir, this is a contention you fail to support. Primarily, you are already in the position of having the burden of proof on yourself, for it is apparent to anyone that is impartial and not adhering to your theology, that “inherit” and “enter” are drastically different thoughts!

Your mere appeal to context leaves you in the unfavorable position of having decreed something without a shred of support.

It is abundantly clear, that if language is to retain its proper function, that we must distinguish between words. Apparently, in your theology, we could say faith and mean works; say bird and mean nest; say inherit and mean enter.

You have placed yourself on a slippery slope that leads in to an escapeless quagmire. Words lose their force and scriptures evade their meaning when we arbitrarily decide to affirm the equality of terms and theological referents without specific provisions to do so!

I wrote:
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Paul makes plain that perseverance in morality and piety is required for those who will "inherit" (not merely enter) the kingdom.
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To which you responded:
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An anachronistic and un-Pauline distinction. This is poor exegesis again. Really, you ought down a few modern commentaries – they won't bite!
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To which I presently respond:
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Are commentaries your final authority on matters of faith and practice in the Christian religion? You seem to rely upon them as gospel.

Listen, I have grappled with the text. All that you provide for me here is mere contention! An anachonistic and un-pauline distinction? He mentions this doctrine multiple times!

After calling the Corinthians he addressed as “unrighteous” (anarthrous) in verse 8 (adikeite), “you do wrong…” he says:

“Do you not know that unrighteous[anarthrous] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).

This is the same group that he affirmed their regeneration in spite of their carnal practices throughout his epistle, yet he charged them with "unrighteousness" (vs 8), to which he comments that those who can be characterized by these different unrighteous activities will not "inherit" the kingdom of God.

That he conditioned “inheriting” the kingdom with morality, is easily defended from the mere reading of the aforementioned passage.

Your understanding would be works-righteousnes, but you have no shame in claiming such a thing. Maybe someone who has experienced the emphatic nature of Paul’s critical distinctions of faith and works in the specific arena of soteriology may benefit from this oberservation!

You write:
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It's a pity that you haven't been able to deal more thoroughly and reasonably with the arguments that I have cited.
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Sir, there is not one text that evades the clear and simple affirmation that eternal life is a free gift, received by grace alone through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. Its a pity that you don't see that.

You write:
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Here you clearly misunderstand me. My point inciting this first was to say that, for Paul, faith and works belong together. He would not understand your modern and trendy distinctions at all. Of that I'm quite sure!
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Chris, if this was your only contention, that “faith and works belong together” I fail to see why you have wasted so much time and energy arguing with me.

I agree, they have a relationship. Yet it is not a relationship of necessity persevering to death. To this, you haven’t even remotely supported, let alone proved!

I wrote:
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You also err in assuming that Free Grace theology states that it doesn't matter what you do after you are saved.
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to which you responded:
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I did not say this about Free Grace theology at all! The object of these words was not Free Grace theology. Be fair to me.
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To which I PRESENTLY respond:

Excuse me? Was it not you who intimated and implied (if not explicitly):

“'Justification by faith' does not mean that God has decided that moral behaviour doesn't matter after all, and that the only thing matters is something else, called 'faith', so that as long as I have this 'faith' it doesn't matter what I do"

??????????

You had thought that my position espouses this, or why would you add this Red Herring to the mix of the other outrageous and unsupportable claims you have made against me and my position?

I wrote:
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You may not be "trying" to negate the free gift of salvation, but your theology functionally and fatally negates it.
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To which you responded:
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Well, that's the price of being Pauline apparently! PS. My theology is negating only your take on it. And Amen to that.
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You hereby claim negation to the free gift of salvation. You have transported yourself back to Rome. There is only but one sense and one take of a free gift:

It is absolutely free contingent on nothing but the Giver’s will to give and the benificiary’s act of receiving.

You write:
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I have work to do and cannot respond to all of your highly dubious points.
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Yet I have sat here and answered all your ‘dubious’ rhetoric!

“Yes, we who believe in salvation by faith alone do also believe in good works. But we are careful to maintain the great gap between the finished work of Christ and the good works for which we have been created. His work is the basis for our salvation by faith apart from works. It is also the basis for good works after our conversion.” (Art Farstad)

35 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some excellent reasoning there, Antonio.

I am glad I do not have to write long responses like that on my blog.

God Bless

Matthew

January 06, 2006 7:22 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Antonio,


Nice!!!!

PEACE,

NATE

January 06, 2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Exceptional!

Thank you for very carefully replying to those arguments because the number of comments distorted the discussion.

I hope this isn't the conclusion however. I hope the misters Jonathan, Paul Lamey, Daniel, and Joe, and others would think it through and come back with a true challenge. (To faith and works belonging together but not necessarily being together for the purpose of final salvation.) They'd be doing both them and us a favor.

Great job, Antonio!

January 06, 2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Mark 6:
11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
12 So they went out and preached that people should REPENT. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

Matthew 11:
20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not REPENT: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have REPENTED long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Luke 2:
2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you REPENT you will all likewise perish.

Acts 17:
29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to REPENT, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Revelations 2:
4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; REPENT and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you REPENT. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

2 Peter 2:
20)If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21)It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22)Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

Hebrews 10:
26)If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27)but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

James 2:
14)What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15)Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16)If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17)In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18)But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19)You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20)You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21)Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22)You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23)And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24)You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25)In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26)As the body without the spirit is dead, SO FAITH WITHOUT DEEDS IS DEAD.

Just a few scriptures to show the importance of repentance and works.

January 06, 2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thank you Jim!

Repentance and works are very important, they are so important that we ought not to water them down and blend them in our soteriology!

They have a force all of their own to be reckoned with concerning the Christian life; lets not dilute their true force by adding these as requirements for people to receive eternal life! (That would be like adding poision to the Living Water).

Antonio

January 06, 2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

hk flynn -

"To faith and works belonging together but not necessarily being together for the purpose of final salvation."

Not necessary huh? When one becomes a believer a person will begin obeying Christ. It is impossible not to. Unless you are saying that it a possible for a person to live in continual sin, literally eevry moment of a person's life must be an act of sin after justification for works not to be necessary. Taking your argument to its logical conclusion: is it possible for a person to live in continual sin, literally every act an act of sin after justification and can that person still be a Christian? If not, then the argument is settled. This si not an argument for how much works must be done, btu that it is impossible for them nto to be doen therefore works are necessary. But remember whey they are necessary: because no true Christian can possibly live his or her whole life in continual sin after justification. The ontological nature of sanctification will not allow them.

January 06, 2006 7:41 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Wow,
I am amazed at your tenacity Antonio. The Lord has truly imparted a passion to you for Faith Alone in Christ Alone.

This is really too bad, so sad:
Rather than see the freeness of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship and subsequent rewards, they blend them together critically diluting the results.

Keep it up! Have I said this before?: I'm glad you're in the blogosphere, Antonio.

January 06, 2006 9:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn writes:
----------
Not necessary huh? When one becomes a believer a person will begin obeying Christ.
----------
Chapter, verse, and exposition please.

Torn writes:
----------
Unless you are saying that it a possible for a person to live in continual sin, literally eevry moment of a person's life must be an act of sin after justification for works not to be necessary.
----------
Sir, let me nip this in the bud for you. Unless one submits to the Holy Spirit, by an act of the will, submits himself to God, and his members as intruments of righteousness, any work that he does, even if it is apprantly a "good work" for his "good reasons" is done out of the flesh and does not qualify as a work from faith.

Lets also put it down to actualities. I'll give you some scenarios:

We will assume this of every hypothetical person I refer to: He has believed in Christ for eternal life and has been regenerated.

1) This man was recently converted from a Hindu background. He will be thrown out of the market in his village, and not be able to sell or buy, thus his family will suffer, if he associates himself with Jesus. Will his faith in Christ for eternal life necessitate works here as confessing Christ publicly to his village?

2) A regenerate teenager at high school sees two boys majorly harrassing a unpopular new guy, will his going to stop it or alerting a teacher necessitated by his faith in Christ?

How often do you fail in the Christian life? If faith necessarily produced works, then there would be no time in your Christian walk that you would fail to do a good work when the opportunity presented itself, for you claim faith NECESSITATES works. Do you understand what that means?

In any instance that you can provide, there is no necessitated guarantee that works will follow.

Most Calvinists hold to the doctrine of indefectable faith. They admit that regenerate ones can commit heinous, grievous, and enormous sins, and stay that way for a while. But they will not admit that the said person ever loses his faith. They see it as a non-perforated linnear aspect. For sure, during this 'backsliding' his faith is not necessitating works!

I have two aspects here:

1) As a moment by moment endeavor, faith does not necessitate works. Count the opportunities that you failed to act. Then recollect the moments that you chose to act. This was an act of the will, not one of necessity! Unless God is dragging you down the path of obedience, it is your will that determines the action or lack thereof! You may choose to act out of faith, or fail to act. In no instance that you provide can you deduce nor scipturally support that faith must necessarily result in the appropriate works.

2) As a corollary to this, faith in Christ for eternal life, and specifically regeneration, does not necessarily result in perseverance in faith, faithfulness, and obedient works until the end of life.

Torn, I do not think that you know what the word "necessitates" means. This denotes an absolute causal relationship between one thing and another. And that the relationship of faith to works is not necessary is not only shown by my examples and commentary, but by the fact that there are hundreds of entreaties to the will found in the New Testament alone to act on our faith. If this relationship was necessary, then there would be no need for the commands and sincere and heartfelt entreaties to the will, if this relationship was one of necessity.

Paul says, "I beseech you...!" (Rom 12:1; Eph 4:1).

2 Peter 1:5-9

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith[!!!] virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

I will not quarrel that where there is justifying faith, that naturally, signs of regenerate life should exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!

But it is quite wrong, and another thing altogether, to claim that a life of dedicated obedience is guaranteed by regeneration, that any opportunity for works is necessitated by faith, or even that such works as there are must be visible to a human observer.

Antonio

January 06, 2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

I have to disagree wholeheartedly with you. I never, ever said God doesn't command us and says that we should obey. But scripture also says that God wills our wills in sanctification (the passage from Philippians 2 I have brought up time and time again. Your response has only been a response of application and implication. I am not so much concerned with application and implication though.) Secondly, to bring your theological frame of view to its logical conclusion would be to say that it is possible for a person to live his or her whole life, be a Christian, and never commit one holy act in sanctification because works aren't necessarily the result of justification. I say it is impossible not to becuase I believe it is unbelieveable for a true Christian not to commit one (or multiple for that matter) holy act with the Spirit God gave us. What God commands, He gives the power through the Spirit to perform.
I always go back to the passage in Acts where God predestined Christ to die, yet blamed sinful man. Sovereignity and responsibility. There doesn't have to be a rift between the two. I believe sovereignity and responsibility play a part in sanctification also. There is a horde of passages that encourage, command, and harken man to obey Christ once he is justified. And there are others where God says He will move us. I don't knwo how it works out, but it is still scriptural.

Works are necessary becuase it is IMPOSSIBLE for a Christian to live in perpetual, literal moment by moment sin once he has been justified, the sin nature is killed, and the Spirit has been given.

January 06, 2006 10:20 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

I am not saying that your life as a Christian will always be obedient, doubtless most acts are probably done in sin even as a Christian. True Christians do wicked things, but I believe there is a limit, and if a person hits that limit, it would be shown they never had saving faith. Don't really ask me what that limit it though cause I don't know and scripture doesn't say. Although 1 Cor. 5 does throw out some interesting statements. Murderers, idolaters,homosexuals.....hmmmmm. I am not using the word necesitate or necessary to mean that everything a Christian does is holy; only that some obedience must be shown for every true believer because it will be shown for every true believer because it is impossible for a Christain to live in perpetual sin for the rest of their lives. I think even you Antonio would have to admit that every Christian who has had the chance to, had committed at least one holy act in sanctification. If you agree with that, then wouldn't the debate be over?

January 06, 2006 10:41 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn,

you conveniently sidestepped commenting on anything I wrote, and you perpetuate a misunderstanding of what the term "necessitate" explicates.

Your understanding is that works will in some way and some how be necessitated some of the time. Isn't God strong enough "to will and to work" so that works are truly necessitated by faith?

This seems odd! Put this in conjunction with your belief that the sin nature of Christian people has been ontologically extinguished (distinctive sanctification), and you got two huge things going for you! God willing and working, and you not having a sin nature anymore! Why aren't you sinless? Why does God fully and eternally save us but only partially experientially sanctifies us?

Why aren't works "necessitated" by faith all the time?

You write:
----------
Secondly, to bring your theological frame of view to its logical conclusion would be to say that it is possible for a person to live his or her whole life, be a Christian, and never commit one holy act in sanctification because works aren't necessarily the result of justification.
----------
This is sad, but, hypothetically true.

1) Imagine one who gets saved by someone out witnessing, then returns home and gets a knock on the door. He then falls directly under the teaching of Mormonism. They aren't taught to live by grace and faith. They are working for their salvation in a frank way (more conspicuously then those in Reformed and Arminian theologies).

This person began "in the Spirit," (by the "hearing of faith") but now supposes he can be "made perfect by the flesh" (Gal 3:3).

2) Imagine a short-term trip to India, where Americans meet up with a native church planting mission that gives each american their own translator to go door to door in various villages. They preach the simple gospel message to each household with the understanding that there are monies that they raised to give to the church planting ministry in order to do the follow-up, discipleship, leadership training, and church planting. Yet there were serious conflicts of understanding with the mission agency and the native ministry. The money and man-power were misappropriated. A percentage of the village believed in Christ for eternal life. Yet they were not left with bibles or anyone to disciple them.

Speaking with reference to discipleship, Jesus says, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21).

These villagers do not have the word of God, let alone be able to keep commandments that they do not have. Jesus says that two things are necessary, and the first being that regenerate people must first have His commandments.

The Great Commission found in Matthew and Luke deals directly with discipleship and not evangelism (this is obviously presupposed). Those who preach Jesus need to make disciples: baptize them and teach them to observe all things that Christ commands.

Christians need to be taught to observe Christ's commands! Without discipleship, new believers are left on their own, and can easily and quickly fall prey to apathy, contentment, false teaching, the whirlpool of their most popular sins, influences of the world system and Satan, etc.

In the Parable of the soils, the seed fell on the rocky soil, germinated, had joy, but then "in time of temptation [fell] away" (Luke 8:13). The seed that fell among thorns, germinated, but brings "no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14). These two instances of regeneration (in the pro-life movement for plants, life begins at germination) are sadly possible in the Christian life, as Jesus here expounds.

Antonio

January 07, 2006 12:07 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

In response to your second comment, I will refer you to the last portion of my first comment to you, which says all I have been saying in a nutshell:

----------
I will not quarrel that where there is justifying faith, that naturally, signs of regenerate life should exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!

But it is quite wrong, and another thing altogether, to claim that a life of dedicated obedience is guaranteed by regeneration, that any opportunity for works is necessitated by faith, or even that such works as there are must be visible to a human observer.

Antonio

January 07, 2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn,

Let me tell you where the debate lies: in Reformed theology's insistence that a certain degree of experiential sanctification is necessitated by regeneration and/or faith and that this will necessarily persevere until death.

It is enough that this is erroneous, but the implications of this are great to both soteriology and the doctrine of assurance.

1) Perseverance theology puts works on the back end of the gospel, requiring faithful endurance till death in works and sanctification. This is works-salvation.

2) Certain Christian assurance of salvation is a fatality in Perseverance theology. You cannot know with certainty that you are saved! In perseverance theology, saved people persevere until the end, and there are people who once believe, and yet only have a transitory faith, and fall away later (no time is given, it could be decades) thus proving they weren't saved.

They base asurance on the practical syllogism that consists of "fruit inspection". The subjective nature of this inspection results in anything but certainty.

Yet, as Calvin and Luther believed, assurance is of the essence of saving faith. The objective promise of Christ is the only ground for assurance!

Antonio

January 07, 2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

So, antonio....Will Satan someday spend eternity in Heaven? He believes in God.

I think it is summed up pretty well in James 2 (which I have already stated):

18)But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19)You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20)You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?

I guess it all comes down to what 'you' think "believing" means. If you think if someone who believes Christ is the Son of God will be guaranteed a spot in Heaven, you are sadly mistaken. If you believe that Christ is the Son of God, and you believe that if we live a life that is pleasing to Him (as He wants us to do), then we are guaranteed a spot in Heaven. Do you honestly believe God doesn't care if we sin or not? If we do good works? That is commanded of us. If we refuse His commandments we are spitting in His face.

January 07, 2006 6:05 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Dittos Antonio!

Torn try to see that in our understanding you (and Dr. MacArthur) are resisting the lordship of Christ in this doctrinal matter.

When Paul again and again insists only belief is needed for Christ to eternally save us, that settles it for free grace people. Christ is in charge!

No hypothetical will show Antonio the illogic or unworkability of his position because there is no ambiguity in Paul's insistence that eternal salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.

Plus you seem to be base the necessity on logic rather than the nature of saving faith as MacArthur and the reformed theologians do. (That a tad of works is necessary because it would be improbable or logically impossible for them not to be there. Am I overstating?)

In my view the Holy Spirit prompts whoever He pleases to worship momentarily. Whether that person is a rebellios believer or an unregenerate person, like Cornelious, neither would surprise me.

So our view of regeneration and sanctification is I think still a mystery to you.

Warmly,

Jodie

January 07, 2006 7:13 AM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Hey Jeremy,

Your choice, but do you really think you're going to convince Antonio or his commenters of anything at this point? I recommend not spending too much precious time commenting here. Someone warned me of that, and I heeded their suggestion. In any case, good luck--as my sis would say--in the most Calvinist sense of the word!

--Adam C.

January 07, 2006 9:42 AM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

"1) Perseverance theology puts works on the back end of the gospel, requiring faithful endurance till death in works and sanctification. This is works-salvation."

Have I ever said that a person is not saved until he does works? I never said that and never will. A person who truely believes is justified at that point. My only point is that some sort of works must follow because they will follow. I am not asking for perfection. But it is impossible for a Christian to live a life of continual sin, moment by moment, after justification. Antonio knows that. So then works are necessary but they do not save and never will, using my definition of the term necessary.

"2) Certain Christian assurance of salvation is a fatality in Perseverance theology. You cannot know with certainty that you are saved! In perseverance theology, saved people persevere until the end, and there are people who once believe, and yet only have a transitory faith, and fall away later (no time is given, it could be decades) thus proving they weren't saved."

Nothing like begging the question, as if assurance is the holy grail of theology. How does one know he is saved? You can't have philosophical assurance, for there is not even philosophical assurance for anything. Only God truely knows. Regardless, one knows he is she is saved if one truely believes. Further, a life of obedience is also proof (OF WHAT IS ALREADY THERE) and the witness of the Holy Spirit.

"They base asurance on the practical syllogism that consists of "fruit inspection". The subjective nature of this inspection results in anything but certainty."

Has Luther or Calvin, the REFORMERS ever said ONLY this. No, so why do you accuse those in the Reformed tradition of it? Straw man. No reformed folk believe that. 1) Do you believe 2) Obedience 3) The Holy Spirit

"Yet, as Calvin and Luther believed, assurance is of the essence of saving faith. The objective promise of Christ is the only ground for assurance!"

Read Luther and Calvin. They have both been saying the three premises I have been putting forth regarding assurance. I don't care of MacArthur doesn't preach it, even though he does I would think.

Le tme ask the free gracers out there a hypothetical since Antonio loves to throw them out.

What if there was a man who became a Christian, lived for 30 years, and then with the knowledge only God has, you were told with God's knowledge that this man never committed one act of obedience ever. Would this person be a Christian? A consistent free-gracer would have to say yes. I would say no. Only becuase if he couldn't do one holy act then his belief must have been spurious and his obedience, or lack of, was shown. His obedience NEVER EVER saved him, but was the evidence of a spuriosu faith. IF you would say the above person is truely saved, then the Holy Spirit would have to have been shut up for 30 years and the sin nature was never ever put to death on the cross. And this person wouldn't lose reward, but salvation. Don't get me wrong, I believe Christians do lose rewards, but some losr, or never had, more than that.

January 07, 2006 10:14 AM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

Yes I believe it is possible for free-gracers to switch sides on this issue, just as reformed people have switched. I have seen too much of it to quit. But I am starting school Tuesday and will have far less time to chat. But I still enjoy it.

January 07, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Jeremy, not saying people can't change. But, some people are only out to argue, and you could be using the time for those really seeking truth and not argumentation. Again, it was just a suggestion. God bless.

January 07, 2006 12:37 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

"Certain Christian assurance of salvation is a fatality in Perseverance theology. You cannot know with certainty that you are saved! In perseverance theology, saved people persevere until the end..."

"How does one know he is saved?"

What? Do Evangelical Christians actually believe this? That is absurd, if one cannot know for sure whether they are saved, I would say that it is not worth even attempting that kind of "christian" life.

To paint God in that light is to misrepresent Him completely contrary to His character. There are many verses that proclaim assurance of salvation. I have no doubts that Christ has saved me, and this assurance is in no way contingent upon any continued action on my part.

What then is the difference between Armenianism and Calvinism if one cannot know for sure whether they are saved?

Please help me out here....

January 07, 2006 12:39 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jim,
In practical terms, there is very little difference between Arminianism and Calvinism. Both identify Perserverance as a condition of salvation.

The Arminian fears that he may loose his salvation. The Calvinist knows that if he is Regenerate, he will perservere. However, if he habitually falls into sins, he may come to question whether he is truly one of the elect. He may yet have only a false faith that will not perservere. How can he have assurance that he is truly saved?

God Bless

January 07, 2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Jim,
you say:
I have no doubts that Christ has saved me, and this assurance is in no way contingent upon any continued action on my part.

AMEN and AMEN!

Since I started reading reformed blogs, my jaw has dropped open over this as well. I thought Calvinists were the champions of Eternal Security. Instead, I have discovered, that many are so afraid of antinomianism that they have directed our eyes onto Christian conduct and away from the amazing gift of salvation.

I am glad there are others who are as confounded by the absurdity as I am.

Oh, Hi Antonio!

January 07, 2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.

You ask a great question.

D.A. Carson, a Reformed writer says this about Reformed and Arminian doctrines of subjective assurance:

"Thus at their worst, the two approahces meet in strange and sad ways"

Introspection is the critical basis for both theologies.

Their theologies both have the same result:

Calvinism: If you don't persevere in faithful obedience until death, this shows you were never saved.

Arminianism : If you don't persevere in faithful obedience until death, this shows you lost your salvation.

The results are the same: either faithfully work and obey until death or go to hell.

The bottom line is :

persevere in good works or go to hell

I hope this clarifies for you.

Antonio

January 07, 2006 2:55 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Matthew,

That is the conclusion I am coming to as well. I am still unwilling to admit that all Calvinists would take this hardline? Is it possible that the doctrine of grace is that misconstrued?

Jim

January 07, 2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Rose,

It's funny when you think all christians think the same as you and then find out they don't. Praise God I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he will keep me until that day.

January 07, 2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Antonio,

Thanks for your extensive study on this issue. I must confess total ignorance of either camp until a few years ago. I was blissfully going along in my christian life when the question came up as to whether I was Calvinist or Armenian? I was stumped. Reading these blogs has helped me to understand better the Calvinistic side especially. I had rejected the basic premise of the Armenianistic side long ago as the whole matter of a works salvation was completely unscriptural and for that matter completely unattainable.

I had no idea Calvinism had the same basic tenet.

God bless,
Jim

January 07, 2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

I love Antonio. "Persevere in good works or burn in hell." LOL! He is so unabashed. He isn't afraid to only give half of the story. I am not a fan of his, but at least I repsesent the other side correctly. I owe that to him. I am confident enough in the truth that I can be honest about what he believes that I don't have to give half-truths. Am I the only one who finds it odd that he NEVER mentions that the REASON a person can persevere in good works is because faith, and faith alone, the faith which God gives and alone saves always results in obedience. I don't know how much, or how often, but I do know that it is impossible for a Christian, once justified, to live a life of continual sin. Therefore works are necessary because they will be necessary. They DO NOT save. They only SHOW a person has been saved. Antonio still has not responded to the hypothetical I put forth: is it possible for a Christian and has there ever been one who has never done one holy act after justification. If Antonio says no, then some obedience is necessary for every true believer.

January 07, 2006 6:40 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn, I did.

It was posted Jan 7, and addressed to you.

Since you gloss over my arguments and merely sidestep them, it is no wonder that you missed my several paraphraphs answering you.

Antonio

January 07, 2006 7:29 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

And, sir, the works are necessary, both for assurance and for final salvation:

"Hodges, and virtually all dispensationalists, do not see the elementary difference between non-meritorious "requirements," "conditions, necessary obligations," "indispensable duties," and musts" (Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing...pg 226).

I don't see the difference, if it is by grace through faith alone in Christ, then there are no other requirements, conditions, necessary obligations, indispensable duties, or musts.

Here I plead guilty. I admit that I "do not see the elementary difference" Gerstner is talking about. In fact, I deny it. Not only is it in no way "elementary," it is not even biblical!

We must note that Paul did not say,

Now to him who works meritoriously...,

but simply,

Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt (Rom 4:4)

The only contingencies lay in the Giver's will to give and the beneficiary's act of receiving.

Otherwise, this mish mosh of Gerstner is works salvation!

"The question is not whether good works are necessary to salvation, but in what way they are necessary. As the inevitable outworking of saving faith, they are necessary for salvation." (Gerstener 210).

How ever you cut it, Lordship Salvation requires works or there is no heaven, PERIOD.

Piper makes it clear:

"...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25)

You Calvinists MUST own up to the fact that hell is contingent on your perserance is obedience and works, says Piper.

"Heaven can only be reached by continuing along the sole path that leads thither, namely, the 'Narrow Way.' Those who persevere not in faith and holiness, love and obedience, will assuredly perish" (A.W. Pink, "Eternal Security", chapter 3, online edition).

Works salvation!

Antonio

January 07, 2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn, you gloss over two times now three times I write this:

I will not quarrel that where there is justifying faith, that naturally, signs of regenerate life should exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!

But it is quite wrong, and another thing altogether, to claim that a life of dedicated, persevering obedience is guaranteed by regeneration, that any opportunity for works is necessitated by faith, or even that such works as there are must be visible to a human observer.

Antonio

January 07, 2006 7:52 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

Well it is not a should but a must because they will happen. You have never specifically answered my question: is it possible for a person to not commit one holy act after justification and be a Christian? Sorry if I have missed your questions, there are a couple of different blogs I talked with you on and you re-arranged some of them so I might have missed the question you answered.

"Hodges, and virtually all dispensationalists, do not see the elementary difference between non-meritorious "requirements," "conditions, necessary obligations," "indispensable duties," and musts" (Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing...pg 226).

You don't see the differences because you don't want to. Justification and sanctification are too different things. One is given by faith and the other by faith plus obedience.

Stop bringing up passages where Paul is speaking of justification and then say Calvinists are adding works when they talk of sanctification. Works are necessary because the Holy Spirit, MUST, not SHOULD be shut up for one's entire life. The elect "prove" their faith through fruit (John 15). You must really have though that the Reformers only got their theology half straight because those who began the Reformation are definatley not in agreement with you. If one of the cries of the Reformation was "faith alone" justifies and a life of fiath and obedience santfifies I don't see the problem.

January 07, 2006 8:20 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

Oh and that was my last post. I aint mad. But Antonio won't be chnaging soon and I won't either. We understand each other's views which is part fo the goal of posting. I'll tell Carson hi for you and Zane though. Nice chatting

Bo Bears!

January 07, 2006 8:23 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think the problem for the Calvinist is experiential rather than theoretical. I believe that the doctrine of Perserverance to be unscriptural. I do believe that Calvinists can claim to consistently believe in justification by faith alone.

The problem is that their view of Sanctification means that in practise there is no real difference between justification by grace through faith and justification by faith+works.

If faith involves work by nature, then I can only be sure that I am saved if I am doing sufficent works. How much holiness must I show? If I do not feel like going out street preaching for a whole month, is this a sign that my faith is deficent? If I am having doubts, is this a sign that I never really believed? If I feel I do not really love Christ, maybe I just believed because I was afraid of going to hell?

There is also the problem of how we deal with those passages that warn us that we must show fruit of holiness or that we must perservere. If these are warnings to false believers and I know I have faith in Christ, then I do not need to worry about these warnings and they are useless. On the other hand, if this attitude is wrong and I might be a false believer, regardless of the fact that I believe I am saved; then I can never have true assurance. I must be continually worrying of my salvation if I sin.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 08, 2006 8:52 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Antonio Responds to a Critic," 06 Jan 2006, 12:53 AM

Hello Antonio --

This was a great example of self-restraint on your part to a set of personal attacks and unsubstantiated assertions on the part of your "critic."

You were saying in the post, "Then when you come upon verses that superficially seem to equate salvation on works, what is the knee-jerk reaction of most? They encorporate these dissonant verses into their soteriology; thus corrupting the free gift of eternal life, and casting a large shadow on grace. This they do in spite of the well-articulated and reasoned expositions of them that show within their context and the greater context of the Bible that they are not talking about soteriology after all."

People will gladly hear what they already believe, and will hardly give another opinion a hearing. It was an old Greek philosopher from the Ionian area, I can't remember who, that said that people will believe what they want to believe -- a good generalization!

I wanted to specifically talk about what you were saying here, that "They [certain verses] are clear to me as well as having nothing to do with eternal salvation, nor of some supposed necessary relationship of works to faith. That you interpret them the way you do is because of your theology which you have brought to the text that has been handed down."

The "supposed necessary relationship of works to faith" is behind a pernicious and false attempt to make the following syllogism:

1. Christian faith produces works;
2. where there are no good works, there is no faith;
3. where there are no good works, there is no salvation.

The traditional answer to this is often along the lines of 1 Corinthians 4:5. Calvin answered it this way, saying that we would have to admit that our best works are tainted with sin and would be disqualified by justice alone.

But there are a couple or three stronger lines of argument that should be proposed and used to defend the salvation from hell that is God's work alone.

The first is simply this: those who elevate good works to the level of them being necessary for salvation from hell must assign partial credit for salvation to the doer of them, thus denying passages like Acts 4:12 and John 14:6.

To elaborate on this first thought: those who believe that good works are necessary for salvation are stuck: if they teach that good works are all accomplished by God, then there is nothing which the supposed non-worker can be asked to do; if they teach that some part or aspect of good works are accomplished by the Christian, then the Christian must be given credit for supplying what is necessary for their salvation, by their own admission: therefore they cannot glory in Christ alone.

A second thought capable of showing the folly of believing that good works are necessary for salvation is the following: what, then, is the extent of trust in Christ alone to save? If our good works are necessary for our salvation, then we must rely partly on our selves for our salvation, because good works are at least partially our doing. Therefore, we end up relying on Christ by that amount less, than we are relying on ourselves.

A third thought that really shows the downside of making good works necessary for our salvation is that such is a taking of Christ's work away from Him.

If all the work of saving is truly Christ's, and not our own, the attempt to teach and preach that some of the work of saving is our own is an attempt to wrest what is Christ's job from Him, and make it our job.

Implications of this are very severe, in terms of causing people to lose faith in Christ. It certainly is true that if someone has relied on Christ to save him or her, considering the matter settled, and then someone comes and convinces the person that it is no longer settled, and Christ's work must be supplemented by work of his or her own in order to be saved from hell, then that someone has contributed to someone losing faith in Christ, and even may incur the fate that Jesus describes in what are called the millstone passages.

Finally, I would like to point out that when what is considered necessary to be saved is the combination of two things, a + b, such as Christ's work plus my good works, we must consider the mathematically equivalent statement, b + a. When this is translated back into English, what an ugly statement this line of thinking becomes.

It becomes a statement of horrible connotation for the exclusive honor we must give to the work of Christ (Mt 1:22).

For example, the following two statements are equivalent:

1. In order to escape hell, good work by the Christian must exist in addition to the good work done by Christ.

(That is so common, it almost sounds completely obvious, to some ears. However, how does the following sound?)

2. In order to escape hell, the good work done by Christ must supplement the good work by the Christian.

When both are made necessary, each logically can be seen to be the supplement of the other: thus the work of Christ is again robbed of its unique job, and its unique glory.

January 10, 2007 10:19 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Antonio Responds to a Critic," 12:53 am 06 Jan 2006.

On Jan 06, 2006, 07:41 pm, a commenter said the following:

"Taking your argument to its logical conclusion: is it possible for a person to live in continual sin, literally every act an act of sin after justification and can that person still be a Christian? If not, then the argument is settled. This is not an argument for how much works must be done, but that it is impossible for them not to be done therefore works are necessary. But remember whey they are necessary: because no true Christian can possibly live his or her whole life in continual sin after justification. The ontological nature of sanctification will not allow them"


On Jan 06, 2006, 10:20 pm, the same commenter said,

"God wills our wills in sanctification (the passage from Philippians 2 I have brought up time and time again."

...

"it is unbelieveable for a true Christian not to commit one (or multiple for that matter) holy act with the Spirit God gave us"

...

"Works are necessary becuase it is IMPOSSIBLE for a Christian to live in perpetual, literal moment by moment sin once he has been justified, the sin nature is killed, and the Spirit has been given."


Perhaps this argument has swayed some people who are unconvinced by the responses left so far to it.

For some people, the commenter's argument sounds an awfully lot like Romans 6, especially in the RSV or NIV. IMHO the AV/RV/ASV/NKJV/NAS preserves the fact that Romans 6:2 is addressed to the will, not to speculations about possibilities.

Romans 6:2 in the RSV or NIV makes it sound as if Paul is speaking about what is possible or impossible.

If that were true, then the commenter's argument would be an interpretation of the implied answer to rhetorical question "how can we who died to sin still live in it?" The commenter would be giving an interpretation of what it is to not "live in it," after answering the (RSV,NIV) question with "we can't; it is impossible to live in it."

Romans 6:2, in the other translations above, states "how shall we who died to sin still live in it?" This rhetorical question has the implied answer "to live in sin is not a valid option for our wills."

In free grace circles, the dichotomy is often stated as if it is possible to, but we are commanded not to, live in sin. I would suggest that this is insufficient to express the thought of Romans 6:2. Paul is arguing from a fact -- the Christian's death to sin. He is using that fact to address our deliberative faculty, our wills. What shall we do ... what is it that we are to choose to do? How is it that we are to choose to live in sin, since we died to sin? May it never be!

Nowadays we are so conditioned to think that the Christian life proceeds by processes, and products, and being controlled, and inevitable results of other things, that the language of our wills being addressed is almost gone from our consideration. But not for Paul.

January 12, 2007 3:07 AM  

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