Continued Discussion About Salvation


#1

EA_Man and I were discussing on another thread, but the topic changed and I am continuing it here (with his permission, of course).

The topic was Once Saved, Always Saved, and this was written in response to the following CA article:
catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0203sbs.asp

[quote=EA_Man] If I can’t attain salvation through works how can I *maintain *salvation through works?

Jesus tells us in John that we must be born again - this is very instructive. He is saying that we need a NEW LIFE - that is what a birth is. So what are we doing according to Mr. Evert, killing the new life in ourselves only to come to Jesus again to gain yet another new life only to then lose that one, and so on?

The Bible makes it clear that we are either in Adam or in Christ. We’re not in Adam, then in Christ, then in Adam, then in Christ, etc… To be saved we must die as Christ died - in order to die as Christ died we are putting the old man in Adam in us to death. What then are we doing according to Mr. Evert? Are we constantly resurrecting Adam? How is that possible since only God has the power to raise the dead?

Furthermore, how do some sins result in a loss of salvation while others don’t? Paul and James state that unless you adhere to the law perfectly you are guilty of all of the law. (Galatians 3:10, James 2:8-10)

Peace
[/quote]


#2

EA_Man,

I would like to start, again, by saying how pleased I am that we can discuss this reasonably! Your charity and friendship are lessons that many of us here on the forum would do well to learn.

Now…
It is true, and we all agree, that we cannot ‘work’ our way to Heaven. This was formally condemned by the Catholic Church by way of a particularly dastardly heresy known as Pelagianism via the Council of Carthage in 481 A.D. We also all agree that we are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves - it is the gift of God.

So that’s point one: we agree that we are saved by the grace of God, and not because we have done anything to merit it by ourselves.

Next point: Biblical Regeneration.
First, we need to define our terms. Regeneration (being “born again”) is, as you said, the transformation from death to life that occurs in our souls when we first come to God and are justified. God cleanses us from our sins and gives us a new nature, breaking the chains of sin which bind us so that we will no longer be its slaves, but its enemies, who must fight it as Christian warriors (cf. Rom. 6:1–22; Eph. 6:11–17). I believe that we agree on this.
Now, what you refered to was John 3, where we are told by Jesus that we must be born of “water and the Spirit”. These are not two births, but are one birth; a birth of “water-and-Spirit” - Baptism. That is what “and” means, not “and then sometime later or before but certainly never joined to”. This is pointedly shown by our Lord being baptized, Himself, just prior to this. More than that, He and the desciples immediately proceed from this discourse to “Judea; there he remained with them and baptized” (John 3:22). And it is in baptism that we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, are justified before God, are “born again”, and are saved (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Rom. 6:3–4, Titus 3:5). We can know that this was God’s plan from the beginning, as we read about the typology of the Flood.

Quick sidenote on typology, in case you aren’t familiar (I wasn’t when I was still studying with Protestants). In typology, every OT type is a shadow of the things to come, and the NT fulfillment is always bigger and more profound than the OT type. You already refered to the fact that Adam was a ‘type’ of Jesus (Rom.5:14) - here are some more ‘types’ from a Protestant source (www.biblegateway.com), so you know I’m not just blowing smoke:

[list=1]
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» The bronze serpent (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14,15)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» The Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9; with John 1:4; Revelations 22:2)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» Adam (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» Abel (Genesis 4:8,10; with Hebrews 12:24)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» Noah (Genesis 5:29; with 2 Corinthians 1:5)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Acts 3:20,22;7:37; Hebrews 3:2-6)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» David (2 Samuel 8:15; Psalms 89:19,20; Ezekiel 37:24; Philippians 2:9)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» Eliakim (Isaiah 22:20-22; Revelations 3:7)
*]**OF THE SAVIOUR **» Jonah (Jonah 1:17; with Matthew 12:40)
[/list]


#3

So now back to baptism. We are told in 1 Peter 3:20-21 that the Flood was a ‘type’ of our NT baptism. Where Noah and his family were physically saved, WE are spiritually saved through baptism! Can you see how ‘symbolism only’ cannot possibly fulfill the OT type? Certainly there is a symbolic aspect, but symbolism only leaves the OT ‘type’ much greater than the NT fulfillment, which makes no sense. Can you see how it has to be more than symbol? Can you understand how the Holy Spirit wanted us to see this in Scriptures, and God used the fullness of time, history, and human events to make sure this is something we would learn? How much more should we learn our NT lesson?

So let’s start with that, and assume that we do receive salvific grace at baptism. Does that mean that we are “saved”, and there is nothing that God or we can do to un-save us? Surely it can’t be so easy as a single sin, instantly repented, as we know from Galatians 3:10 and James 2:8-10 that if we are guilty of any infraction, we are guilty of all of it, right? Even the righteous man stumbles seven times a day, right? How could anyone live up to that?!?

How indeed. Our God is a loving, compassionate God of infinite mercy and infinite justice. We must be repaid for our sins, but mercy acting through Christ’s atoning work brings “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). If we are *in *Christ Jesus, we will be punnished, but with few lashes (i.e., we won’t be damned). But can we separate ourselves from Him? It would seem so, according to Paul in the same letter - Rom 11:22 “22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” How could we be cut off, and bring ourselves to judgement? The same Holy Spirit who inspired the rest of scripture tells us this: “If anyone sees his brother commit sin that does not lead to death not mortal], he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death mortal]. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death” (1 John 5:16-17).
*] = added. So there are mortal sins and not-mortal sins (which we will, for convenience, call “venial”). How can we commit a mortal sin, and how can we commit a venial sin, and how are we to know? Our Lord Jesus, eternally wise, taught us exactly how to know by way of parable in Luke 12:47-48:

47"And that slave who **knew **his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,48but the one **who did not know **it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, **will receive but few. ** From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

So to commit a mortal sin we need to have 1. knowledge of the “master’s desires”, 2. sufficiently serious matter as to be worthy of “flogging”, and 3. full concent of our wills to disobey. This would be a mortal sin. Our Just Lord has instilled in us a sense of justice, and this should ring true in your ears.

I will pause here and let you retort.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always,
RyanL


#4

[quote=RyanL]So now back to baptism. We are told in 1 Peter 3:20-21 that the Flood was a ‘type’ of our NT baptism. Where Noah and his family were physically saved, WE are spiritually saved through baptism! Can you see how ‘symbolism only’ cannot possibly fulfill the OT type? Certainly there is a symbolic aspect, but symbolism only leaves the OT ‘type’ much greater than the NT fulfillment, which makes no sense. Can you see how it has to be more than symbol? Can you understand how the Holy Spirit wanted us to see this in Scriptures, and God used the fullness of time, history, and human events to make sure this is something we would learn? How much more should we learn our NT lesson?

So let’s start with that, and assume that we do receive salvific grace at baptism. Does that mean that we are “saved”, and there is nothing that God or we can do to un-save us? Surely it can’t be so easy as a single sin, instantly repented, as we know from Galatians 3:10 and James 2:8-10 that if we are guilty of any infraction, we are guilty of all of it, right? Even the righteous man stumbles seven times a day, right? How could anyone live up to that?!?

How indeed. Our God is a loving, compassionate God of infinite mercy and infinite justice. We must be repaid for our sins, but mercy acting through Christ’s atoning work brings “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). If we are *in *Christ Jesus, we will be punnished, but with few lashes (i.e., we won’t be damned). But can we separate ourselves from Him? It would seem so, according to Paul in the same letter - Rom 11:22 “22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” How could we be cut off, and bring ourselves to judgement? The same Holy Spirit who inspired the rest of scripture tells us this: “If anyone sees his brother commit sin that does not lead to death not mortal], he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death mortal]. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death” (1 John 5:16-17).
*] = added. So there are mortal sins and not-mortal sins (which we will, for convenience, call “venial”). How can we commit a mortal sin, and how can we commit a venial sin, and how are we to know? Our Lord Jesus, eternally wise, taught us exactly how to know by way of parable in Luke 12:47-48:
So to commit a mortal sin we need to have 1. knowledge of the “master’s desires”, 2. sufficiently serious matter as to be worthy of “flogging”, and 3. full concent of our wills to disobey. This would be a mortal sin. Our Just Lord has instilled in us a sense of justice, and this should ring true in your ears.

I will pause here and let you retort.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always,
RyanL
[/quote]

Ryan,

Christ’s Peace to you.

Well, there’s certainly alot to unpack here and rather than attempt to “refute” your statements, I will endeavor to positively assert a slightly different picture of the nature of the Salvation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In so doing, I am attempting to demonstrate that classifications such as “mortal” or “venial” sins are superfluous.

For the purposes of this discussion let us leave aside the question of Baptismal Regeneration. I propose that we undertake that discussion as a separate thread. Let us agree that salvation “has taken place”; as it seems the main question is whether that salvation can be lost.

First of all I assert that there is only one sin that needs to repented of:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:28

Notice John the Baptist is stating that the Lamb of God takes away THE SIN of the world, NOT the SINS of the world.
What is THE SIN? It is the sin of Genesis 3: the disobedience of Adam. As Paul states:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned for before the law was given, sin was in the world. Romans 5:12-13

The sin spoken of is the sin of disobedience, of living independently of God. To use a more Catholic vernacular, the sin is Original Sin willfully affirmed. It is the sin of Unbelief.

continued…


#5

Part II

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15

Now notice: If I repent of unbelief (NOT believing), I will do what? Believe! I will surrender myself to Christ for the forgiveness and redemption of ALL my sins (the manifestations of the sin of unbelief).
In other words, repent of being WRONG with God of living in unbelief. Then turn and become RIGHT with Him through faith in Christ Jesus.

Man’s responsibility to turn to God for forgiveness is undeniable on account of the light of the revealation of His Truth.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”** John 3:19-21**

However, those that believe have entered into New Life.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a** new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!** 2 Cor. 5:17

If the old (perishable nature) has gone and the new (imperishable nature) has come though belief, how is one to now NOT BELIEVE? The implication is that they never truly believed to begin with.

This is demonstrated again in the following:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:26-29

The latter part of the passage clearly says there that if someone does reject Christ, they “trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him.” This is what we do if we commit the sin. We consider it of such little value (an unholy thing) that it does not merit our attention. Thus, by choice, we never receive Christ.

Lastly in John 19:30 Jesus’ last words on the Cross were “It is finished.” Although I can never do justice to the profound eternal ramifications or fully exegete the fullfilment of scriptural import of these three words, Jesus is proclaiming the finality and completion of His role as sin-bearer. All (everyone’s) sin; past, present, and future He had borne on the Cross. The only way to be separated from God now is to refuse to come to Him. But if once you believed, really believed, then you cannot be separated from Him.

And I trust in Jesus Christ that you never will.
May God’s Blessings be upon you always


#6

EA_Man and RyanL,

If I may, I’d like to be permitted to join the discussion.

[quote=EA_Man]If the old (perishable nature) has gone and the new (imperishable nature) has come though belief, how is one to now NOT BELIEVE? The implication is that they never truly believed to begin with.

[/quote]

I think that EA_Man has put his finger on the crux of the matter here. The Catholic teaching is that the person did once believe while what EA_Man is saying is that no, at some level he didn’t really believe. Practically speaking, though, there is no real difference if you look at somebody from the outside.

An example of this is Dan Barker, who used to be a Fundamentalist evangelist and who now runs the Freedom From Religion Foundation. If you had asked him during his earlier years whether he was saved, he would have told you a definite yes. If you ask him now, he will tell you that the question has no meaning since there is nothing eternal to be saved from.

  • Liberian

#7

[quote=Liberian]EA_Man and RyanL,

If I may, I’d like to be permitted to join the discussion.

I think that EA_Man has put his finger on the crux of the matter here. The Catholic teaching is that the person did once believe while what EA_Man is saying is that no, at some level he didn’t really believe. Practically speaking, though, there is no real difference if you look at somebody from the outside.

An example of this is Dan Barker, who used to be a Fundamentalist evangelist and who now runs the Freedom From Religion Foundation. If you had asked him during his earlier years whether he was saved, he would have told you a definite yes. If you ask him now, he will tell you that the question has no meaning since there is nothing eternal to be saved from.

  • Liberian
    [/quote]

Thanks and of course all are welcome to join this conversation.

I suppose that we must agree as to what it means to believe. Belief must entail more than mere understanding, or intellectual assent. An example may help clarify this. Let us consider a chair.
You can tell me that a particular object is a chair, and I could apprehend or comprehend that it is indeed what you say, in this case; a chair. That is understanding.
Then you could proceed to tell me that not only is it a chair, but that I could sit on it and it would hold my weight without breaking and I could agree to that as true. This is intellectual assent or agreement. Many understand this to be ‘belief’ as they believe that the chair can do what is being claimed. But belief is really when you understand what the chair is, what is being claimed, and actually trust in the chair to hold your weight - by sitting on it.

To analogize the case of Dan Barker, he understood that the chair was a chair, and understood and may have even believed the claim that the chair could bear his weight. However, apparently he never actually trusted that claim enough to sit on the chair.

He understood that Jesus was who He said He was. He understood and agreed that what Jesus claimed is true. Many, many people do this; they have faith in their faith, they do not have faith in Jesus Christ.

Peace


#8

Liberian,

It’s a public forum - all are welcome, as long as respect is maintained. Thank you for your input.

EA_Man,

You are right - Baptismal Regeneration would probably be better left to another thread. That said, are you familiar with Typology? If you have never looked into it, this field of study really opened up the Bible for me!

To clarify - I cannot agree that “salvation has happened”, but rather that “God’s free gift of salvific grace has been imparted”. It seems a small difference, and maybe it is, but clarity of terms is essential.

That said, our differences are not as great as they may seem. In fact, I would agree with 90% of what you have said, as long as the terms were properly defined. Please allow me to show how Catholics might define these terms, and the biblical basis for these definitions:

Repentance (what Catholics typically call Contrition). The Catechism defines is as such (1451-4): the “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” I would go to the bible for citations, but I believe you already agree with this.

Belief (CCC):

223 It means coming to know God’s greatness and majesty: "Behold, God is great, and we know him not."46 Therefore, we must “serve God first”.47

224 It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: "What have you that you did not receive?"48 "What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?"49

225 It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.50

226 It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.51
**
227** It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.52
46 Job 36:26.
47 St. Joan of Arc.
48 1 Cor 4:7.
49 Ps 116:12.
50 Gen 1:26.
51 St. Nicholas of Flüe; cf. Mt 5:29-30; 16:24-26.
52 St. Teresa of Jesus, Poesías 30

Belief, then, would be something that happened in the past with continued results/actions in the present. You see, the bible speaks of belief as a present (and past and future) action, not just as a past, one-time event. Furthermore, the bible tells us that present action must perservere to the end if we are to be “saved”. You agree with this on some level, I believe, and could more readily agree if I were to say that “Belief is a life-long calling”. We are not called to believe once for a brief moment of time, and then forget everything for the rest of our lives and live as we want to live (a point where I think we still agree). If we do not live our calling, however, we do not have “belief”, but rather have sullied the free gift which God has given us and have forsaken the Giver.

Furthermore, it is only with this particular definition of ‘belief’ that the following verses make sense:
“Work out your own salvation with** fear and trembling**” (Phil. 2:12)
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (Rom. 11:22)
There are many more verses (scripturecatholic.com/salvation.html)), but for brevity’s sake I’ll only use those two. If we are “absolutely assured” heaven from the instant of our first belief, these verses are no more than empty words - something which I simply cannot believe about God’s word.

I apologize if this is ground covered in your newest post…I started composing mine at about 7am, then took a break for mass!

RyanL


#9

EA_Man,

I think I will disagree with you about Dan Barker as to whether he actually “sat in the chair,” so to speak. I read his book Losing Faith in Faith and he sounds like he was pretty thoroughly “sitting in the chair” while he was doing his church evangelizing. To the best of my recollection, he had “accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior,” at least outwardly, and was living the Christian walk for several years after that. Of course, it is impossible now to go back and see what his life actually was at that time. It is even more impossible to tell what the state of his soul actually was at that time; all we have is what he has written.

It’s all well and good to say “he never really believed to begin with,” but the only real evidence there is that this is the case is that he doesn’t believe now. We’re assuming the conclusion.

  • Liberian

#10

Let me provide an example that I think is instructive. Peter Bar Jona. Now he denied our Lord THREE TIMES. He had faith for Jesus says of his faith in Matt 16:18, AFTER HE proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, "flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you but my father who is in heaven. Okay here is the problem:

Matt 10
32: So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven;
33: but whoever** denies **me before men, I also will **deny **before my Father who is in heaven.

Now how many times would Peter have had to deny our Lord before this verse kicked in. I think it likely that if someone near that fire would have handed Peter a bible tract “Are you Saved” he would have spit on it and thrown it in the mud.

Fortunately for Peter Jesus provided the words of scripture and the cock crowed bringing him to tears at his own hard heartedness and Jesus cast his merciful eyes upon him knowing his true repentence. Thus grace brought him back from spiritual death.

Blessings


#11

[quote=EA_Man]The latter part of the passage clearly says there that if someone does reject Christ, they “trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him.” This is what we do if we commit the sin. We consider it of such little value (an unholy thing) that it does not merit our attention. Thus, by choice, we never receive Christ.

[/quote]

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:26-29

Actually this quote pretty specifically states that the person has received the truth and been sanctified. But if the person who has received the truth keeps on sinning, no sacrifice for sins is left.


#12

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