Equivocation of 'grace'?


#1

‘For by grace are ye saved’

No doubt most people who have been to Church have at some point or other heard this phrase, or read it in the numerous collections of literature that are in circulation. The passage itself comes from the book of Ephesians attributed to Paul; the apostle of Jesus Christ, once called Saul, who persecuted the body of Christ, only to discover his persecutions were directed at the head.

However, this is not about the exact meaning of the phrase above in context, but instead about a particular meaning that has been ascribed to it by the Church. This might immediately seem to be offensive but it is not. Firstly, because the Church happily admits to having various sources of truth, which include the uniquely inspired written word of God, namely the Bible as well many other writings, which are often said to carry the authority of the Church which Christ instituted. Unfortunately for them this does not always work in their favour, when expounding a passage from the uniquely inspired written word of God. They may say that they have spent hours in prayer and God gave them the meaning, as they studied their commentaries or spoke to learned teachers; however, when it comes to this simple phrase as with all the passages in the uniquely inspired word of God; it is of paramount importance not to ‘add’ or ‘subtract’ from them. It is with this in mind that I ask a simple question. Why is it then that the Church has added a word between ‘by’ and ‘grace’.

WHAT? What word?

The word is ‘SACRAMENTAL’.

Therefore the passage now reads, ‘For by sacramental grace are ye saved.’

What does grace really mean?

It is easy enough to understand the meaning of the word ‘grace’ in its context.

If you return to (verses 1-7), the meaning is wonderfully laid out.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved; ) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

(This passage which preceeds verse 8, wonderfully explains the meaning of this grace.)

  1. The desperate state of our lives prior to God’s quickening us together with Christ.
    (a) Dead in trespasses and sins
    (b) Walking according to the course of this world
    © According to the prince of the power of this air. (satan)
    (d) Sharing in the spirit of the children of disobedience.
    (e) Living in the lusts of our flesh
    (f) Fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind
    (g) By nature, children of wrath.
    (h) Dead in our sins (repeat)

  2. This grace of God results in us being;
    (a) raised up together (with Jesus)
    (b) made us sit in heavenly places. (in Christ Jesus)

  3. So that in future ages; God might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His KINDNESS towards us through CHRIST JESUS

In the study of the uniquely inspired word of GOD, it is quite clear that the description of the GRACE of God has been declared. In order to make this word include ‘the seven sacraments’, is tantamount to ‘taking away,’ or ‘adding to,’ what has been uniquely spoken by God and any such *equivocation of the passage will eventually result in deception similar to that worked upon Eve in the garden of Eden. Never forget that Satan parades as a teacher of righteousness and enjoys adding distortion to the clear instructions of God.

To add to the completed work of GOD in Christ Jesus is to open a Pandoras box of devil’s doctrines, so it is far better to let Scripture interpret Scripture and not add, or take away. In effect doing damage to what has been given to us by the Holy Spirit.

*Equivocation, also known as amphibology, is classified as both a formal and informal fallacy. It is the misleading use of a word with more than one meaning (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time).

:thumbsup:
Pophead.


#2

Pophead,

The Church has not added or subtracted anything. The sacraments, scripture, prayer, other people are channels of grace.

For example we have in 1 Peter 3:21 “This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.” Taking your passage, “For by grace you are saved,” in conjunction with “baptism. . .saves you now,” it seems manifest that baptism can be an ***instrumental cause of grace. ***God, of course, is the principal cause.

Surely you yourself received grace and salvation through some channel or agency? By reading scripture? By hearing the Word of God proclaimed? Through an act of faith? By saying a prayer? Did someone come and preach a mission to you? Were you raised in the faith by dutiful parents? Did you encounter a pastor who guided you?

VC


#3

Verbum Caro,

The apostle Peter warned about this type of approach to the uniquely inspired word of God. (The Scriptures, in this case attributed to the apostle Paul, namely Ephesians 2:1-7.) The passage grants direct insight into the understanding of what is the subject of this thread AND the opening phrase of Ephesians 2:8, namely ‘For by grace are ye saved’. To attach your own ideas to this, or those of others you enjoy reading, is to grammatically rob this passage of meaning.

Allow me to help you a little. When you are reading a Newspaper article. Let’s just say ‘South Africa won the Rugby World Cup Series’. Right? Now the passage you are reading says, ‘Habana scored the five tries because of his speed.’ Then you see another article about Tennis, and you find a passage that reads ‘The forehand shot of McEnroe was always his strong play.’ You then take the first one and conclude that Habana’s speed is credited to McEnroes forehand. This always happens when you combine passages from all over the place and from numerous sources.

The Bible is not a book you can break up and reassemble from one passage here another there, and a bit from this writer and a bit from that writer and then put it in a pot, bring to the boild stirring and voila you have a meal.

One further example. Imagine if you found a letter which was addressed to someone else. You then found another addressed to someone entirely different. You then proceeded to attempt to understand the one with the other. Pretty soon you would have lost the essential message of the first letter.

We are in Ephesians 2:1-7 and are looking at the first part of verse 8, and specifically seeking to understand what Paul means when he says, ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ To add anything to the text is to change it, to change it is to rob it of it’s correct meaning. This had been done for centuries, and in some cases some have even inserted or subtracted certain words to fit in with their own ideas. If one does this to the uniquely inspired word of God, you will eventually have something which is not longer that. Do you understand?

I am not going to answer your question, for if you read the passage carefully you might possibly understand it better if you don’t add ideas from other sources.

Peace,
Pophead.


#4

You’d have to read the Greek.Then you’d be able to say whether “grace” or “sacramental grace” was the closer English translation. However there isn’t necessarily an answer. For instance “grace” means “a prayer before meals”, and “elegance of movement”, and “socially adept handling of a difficult situation” in English. All connected to the concept of sacramental grace, but not identical with it, and maybe a distraction for the meaning intended by St Paul.


#5

When you isolate a word, it will have numerous meanings. (for instance the Greek word ‘logos’ has I think close to sixty meanings.) However, the understanding of the given phrase, namely For by grace are ye saved, requires you read the context wherein it has been placed to discover which sort of grace the apostle Paul is referring to. The preceeding passage Eph. 2:1-7 (which is the context and the subject of this thread), makes it remarkably clear what Paul has in mind.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved; ) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

:thumbsup:
Pophead.

.


#6

Exactly.

Let’s destroy the New Testament (which is nowhere mentioned in the NT) - we should, if grace cannot be mediated.

To have a written NT is totally anti-Biblical. Besides, it comes from the Tradition of the Apostolic preaching, & Tradition is eeeeevil. And it was put together by those Christ-hating apostates called the Fathers of the Church; but what would deluded apostates who relied on Tradition know about God ? Nothing. Such foolery destroys all continuity between the Apostles - or rather, between Christ - & ourselves. It abolishes the very notion of a Church, & reduces Christianity to My Own Unguided Thoughts About God. Sorry, but MOUTAG is not Christian.

To do away with mediation as a princinciple, is to reject the Incarnation, as well as the things you mention.


#7

Gottle of Geer,

Reading Eph. 2:1-7 is essential for a contextual understanding of ‘grace’ as concluded in the words, ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ If the wrong conclusion is arrived at, one which contradicts the context, then distortion of truth is inevitable.

Pophead.


#8

Pophead,

I’m not quite sure I understand your project here. On the one hand you seem to want to limit the analysis of this passage of Ephesians to only what you can glean from it internally. But on the other hand you make an allegation that the Catholic Church has added something from the outside (the word “sacramental”). Catholics don’t read this passage and mentally add the word “sacramental” to it. We take it as it is: “By grace you are saved.” You imported the word sacramental into this passage.

But if you ask a Catholic to explain how and why this passage is consistent with sacramental theology then you need to allow someone to play by the same rules – and hence we both go outside of Ephesians in our conversation.

Speaking of going outside of Ephesians, your point that this isn’t the proper way to interpret scripture and that St. Peter warns us not to do so in 2 Peter seems to me to be tad inconsistent, since you yourself look to another book (2 Peter) to guide you in your interpretation of Ephesians.

For my part I was simply looking at 1 Peter 3:21 (“baptism now saves you”) and Ephesians 2:8 (“for by grace are you saved”) and explaining how those statements taken together would seem to help you understand the Church’s teaching on the sacraments.

To break it down further:

  1. You seem to contend that the phrase “by grace are you saved” excludes one from positing that grace via the sacraments can save.

  2. I however point out that the phrase “baptism now saves you” would seem to indicate that at least one sacrament can save you.

  3. The choice you have is either to say that grace and baptism are two independent things which save you OR you can try to work out how these two assertions harmonize. The Church teaches that it is by grace you are saved, and that one cause of that grace can be the sacraments (of which Baptism is one).

This is true and certain teaching of the early Church, as it is today. It is not an innovation.

If I have misread you, please help me understand more clearly what you are attempting to assert. In any event, do you see any merit to my argument?

God Bless,
VC


#9

As a side note it seems that St. Paul’s use of the concept of being raised up together with Christ in Ephesians 2:6 is echoed in Romans 6:3-5 teaching on the nature of baptism.

are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

Our burial and raising is through baptism.

VC


#10

Verbum Caro,

If I wished to brush God aside; I might conclude that. Please read the context very carefully (Eph. 2:1-7) The connection between God, His Son and grace is very important if one is to really understand what is meant by the words, ‘For by grace are ye saved.’

Love,
Pophead.


#11

What you have now is ‘For by ‘baptism’ are you saved.’

grace=baptism ?

If this is where you wish to wrest the passage, then my point has been made.

Sincerely,
Pophead.


#12

Thank you Pophead, I understand that you want to read this passage again, but perhaps our discussion will advance more readily if you respond to my above posts.:thumbsup:

VC


#13

God is the author of sacred scripture. That is not two authors.

Now the passage you are reading says, ‘Habana scored the five tries because of his speed.’ Then you see another article about Tennis, and you find a passage that reads ‘The forehand shot of McEnroe was always his strong play.’ You then take the first one and conclude that Habana’s speed is credited to McEnroes forehand.

I think both Ephesians and Colossians, for example, are talking about the one same gospel. The sports analogy does not make sense fully to me then, as significantly different topics are being conveyed in that analogy, with different sports figures and sports in mind. It is not like these two letters from Paul can be talking about two different gospels.

We are in Ephesians 2:1-7 and are looking at the first part of verse 8, and specifically seeking to understand what Paul means when he says, ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ To add anything to the text is to change it, to change it is to rob it of it’s correct meaning.

I am unwilling to discard two more words. Verse 8 mentions, “For by grace you have been saved through faith”. This faith is not mentioned otherwise in 2:1-7. Faith is mentioned in a similar spot in Col 2, a portion of which I reproduce here:

11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

Both passages discuss being dead in our trespasses or transgressions, both mention the flesh, both mention being raised up with Christ, both mention circumcision (if you read your passage several verses further), both mention “through faith”, etc. Thus, I think baptism is fairly relevant to your passage. I’m not saying your passage is discussing baptism strictly. Rather, I’m saying that when reading your passage, I think we need to know how it relates to baptism. Also, this “through faith” is important.

To think that we don’t need to think about how these passages relate (and the whole of scripture for that matter) would be a foreign concept to me. I agree we need to understand the logic within a passage as we read it, but we need to to read it with reference to all the rest.

Anyway, just some thoughts that this thread brings up. Also, I am far more inclined to read verse 8 there going on to at least verse 9 or 10. It feels strange to me to pause it there part way through verse 8.


#14

I think if you read VC’s previous post carefully, it will be apparent that he was not equating grace with baptism, but rather describing how baptism is one avenue through which we receive grace.

Peace,
Dante


#15

Thank you Dante,

Yes, exactly.

Pophead, is it possible that you are resisting the concept that baptism is a channel of grace because you do not believe in or accept baptism yourself?

In other posts (and on your blog :thumbsup:), you seem to be the kind of person who is open to discussion and alternative viewpoints. But I get the sense that in this discussion you are digging in your heels here and refusing to entertain any insights into this passage of Ephesians other than your own personal insights.

God Bless you,
VC


#16

There is nothing in Eph. 2:1-7 about baptism. (V.C’s side note) The phrase, ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ - has absolutely nothing at all to do with ‘baptism’, or any ‘avenue through which we receive grace.’ To identify the correct meaning of ‘grace’, in the phrase requires a very careful read of Eph. 2:1-7.

:shrug:
Pophead.


#17

1. Apologies for the uncorrected spelling error

  1. I agree with you.

#18

To quote the OP - “Exactly” :thumbsup: Which is equivalent to saying that baptism is a means of grace.

If it is not, then it is a pointless waste of time - as is reading the Bible, prayer, preaching,evangelisation, & everything else Christians do: if they are not means of grace, they have no purpose, & might as well be thrown out. Along with the:
[LIST]
*]Incarnation
*]Public Life & Ministry
*]Passion
*]Resurrection
*]Ascension
*]- & all the results of these.[/LIST]Such thinking undermines those words in Ephesians - because they convey grace by the ministry of the Spirit Who inspired them. He mediated them to the believer. But if grace is not to be mediated, neither His ministry nor that of Christ is of the slightest value.

The idea that we can get grace from God by our unaided strength is all that is left - & that utterly destroys all need for Christ. It is not Catholics who cast Christ from His Throne :frowning: - it is the refusal of the very principle of mediation of grace that does that :frowning: :frowning: :eek:


#19

So baptism is not necessary for salvation, even though it is explicitly required elsewhere in Scripture? You are trying to pin all of Christian theology on one Bible verse, to the exclusion of the rest of Scripture – it doesn’t work that way. One must look at the entire context of Scripture; to attempt to boil all of Christian theology – or even one precept of it – down to one single passage fails to capture the fullness of the precept you are attempting to define.

The problem is that this particular passage merely says that grace is what saves, and that God wants to share it with us. The passage does nothing to define what grace is, nor does it explain how grace is received – things which are addressed in other places in Scripture.

Can you explain why you wish to confine the discussion to that one passage? What do you hope to accomplish?

Peace,
Dante


#20

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