Ziapueblo… You asked . . . .
Now for my question. In Scripture where we see St. Paul for example writing about faith or salvation in the past tense (for example Ephesians 2:8) is it safe to say that he is referencing baptism? If so, how could I explain that?
It will be a little work for you but let’s break it down a little.
is it safe to say that he is referencing baptism?
Yes but don’t deny the aspect of “Faith”. Wholeheartedly affirm it.
Don’t be drawn into a Baptism INSTEAD of faith argument as some Catholics inappropriately do (CCC 1226 reminds us Baptism is ALWAYS connected to faith).
But also remember, Ephesians 2:8 never says “faith ALONE” which is what your Baptist friend is taught Ephesians 2:8-9 means (at least if its anything like my Baptist Sunday School or youth Group was).
Let’s go a little deeper.
Now for my question. In Scripture where we see St. Paul for example writing about faith or salvation in the past tense (for example Ephesians 2:8) is it safe to say that he is referencing baptism?
Yes it is safe to say that.
But you will have to take more than Ephesians 2:8 and you’ll need to cross-reference some other verses for it to become more evident.
Steve Wood used to like to say, “Remember John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 and Titus 3:5.”
But I would add for your purposes, you’ll need to look at Titus 3:3-7 and some other things too. (go to these links 1, 2, and 3 and I unpack it more there)
Ephesians 2:8 concerns the MOMENT of salvation. Ephesians 2:10 concerns the lifelong PROCESS that follows. Here are the “lead-up” verses (BEFORE that moment).
EPHESIANS 2:3-7 3 Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
TITUS 3:3-7 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; 4 but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
The “washing of regeneration” here in Titus 3:5 is Baptism.
In Ephesians 2:8-9 (which your friend WILL provide but almost certainly he will “forget” about quoting Ephesians 2:10) you will see the “faith” aspect (which you affirm anyway).
In John 3:5 you will see the “water and Spirit” dimension too, which IS the “washing of regeneration”.
JOHN 3:1-2a, 3-4a, 5, 22 (RSV) 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus . . . . 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? . . . 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. . . . . 22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.
And remember, “Baptism is always united to faith”.
CCC 1226 a, c From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. . . . . Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized at once, with all his family."28
As soon as you affirm “Baptism AND faith” he will object saying, “How can Baptism be connected with faith with you Catholics yet you Baptize babies who can’t have faith”.
(Babies CAN “have” faith but he will probably say they can’t have faith)
If he says this tell him parents have God-given authority to spiritually speak on behalf of their kids when they are unable to do so. That’s WHY the Church demands promises from parents.
Just like Joshua says: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
In Mark 9:14-29, the dad takes it upon himself to approach Jesus on behalf of his son who has a very extreme demonic possession. It’s not Baptism but it IS a dad approaching God on behalf of his child who is in this case, unable to do so himself.
And don’t assume because babies can’t MANIFEST faith, that they can’t HAVE faith. If you want, I could give examples in the Bible about kids who DO have faith manifest (like St. John the Baptist in the womb of his mother but there are other examples).
Is this the kind of information you are looking for?