[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Friday, April 21, 2006

The "Gift" that Requires Work

by Rose~

(Since Matthew got us thinking about analogies, I thought maybe this one would be fun to kick around. How does this relate to the "gift" of salvation by grace through faith?)


A woman recieved a birthday gift from her mother one year. The mother handed her daughter an envelope. On the outside of the envelope it said "The Gift of Physical Fitness - for you!"

In scepticism, (understandably) the daughter opened the envelope to find a certificate for a life-long Deluxe Membership to a very exclusive health spa.

"Mom, I think you have misrepresented your gift." said the daughter. "You really aren't giving me the gift of physical fitness at all. You are giving me the opportunity to go to a health spa and spend hours of my life (that I don't have) panting and sweating so I can (maybe) come close to reaching that ever-changing, ambiguous definition of what a physically fit person is. Without my time, commitment and effort, your gift is not worth the paper it is printed on."

"Yes, honey, that is how physical fitness is, you must do it yourself. No one can do it for you. This gift cost me my entire savings, but it will cost you your time, energy, and your suurender to a whole new way of life ... but ... the rewards will be great!"

"Thanks, mom, but haven't you noticed? ... I have no time to go to a health spa because I'm working three jobs to pay off an enormous credit card debt. Why didn't you just take the money and pay off my credit cards instead? Now, that would have been a great gift ... "

37 Comments:

  • The mother knew it would be futile to pay the credit cards debts as she would just rack them up again.

    However, the membership was something she couldn't abuse and would be there for her long after the bills were paid.

    I'm not quite sure how we would go about comparing this analogy to faith and grace? I guess maybe that is where the comments will shed further light?

    By Blogger Jim, at Friday, April 21, 2006 8:46:00 AM  

  • I think this analogy causes big problems for Arminians, Romanists and cult followers and other pseudo-Christian bad guys.

    With Calvinists, the issue is complicated by the fact that they hold that they are made righteous in justiifcation at conversion and they posess eternal life at this point. Still, they do see works as being involved in working out their eternal destiny.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, April 21, 2006 10:24:00 AM  

  • Great, great, great post Jodie!

    This is one of the best analogies I have ever seen. I most certainly will take advantage of using this one myself in conversations. That is if you don't hold any copyright's on it. :)

    Outstanding job

    Kris

    By Blogger Kris, at Friday, April 21, 2006 12:51:00 PM  

  • Rose -

    Let me preface this comment by saying no analogy is a one for one. But... Maybe the analogy could work on a certain level if the mother also says that not only did she pay an enormous price for her to be able to go to the gym, but she is also committed to helping her get there and to use the equipment, and to make sure that she does get physically fit. ?? (Phil. 1:6)

    I guess it depends on what equates with what, right? Is being physically fit the experience of salvation?

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Friday, April 21, 2006 12:52:00 PM  

  • Seems Ten Cent ... hit the nail on the head ... in saying "it depends on what equates with what"

    While the analogy Rose provides is not perfectly equated with salvation, if one were to change it to say that rather than the mother saying she was giving "The Gift of Physical Fitness..." she were to say that she were simply giving "The gift of spa membership and benefits(usage)"...would the fact that the woman had to (1) receive the gift, (2) respond to the gift, or (3) that in possessing and applying the gift ...that her life (in this case her physical body/fitness) was transformed enabling her both to be and to participate in things she could not do before make the gift offered by the mother (spa membership and benefits/usage)any less of a gift? Or, does it means that her efforts in responding and making use of the gift are meritorious in any way in her receiving the gift? Absolutely NOT!

    The SAME can be applied to the response and works that free grace proponents assert that Calvinists are confused over. The point being that tranformation and works that are associated with or that result from the gift do not necessarily take away from the gift.

    To apply this to Matthew's post, just because works are involved in working out the woman's fitness destiny, doesn't conflict with the fact that she presently possesses the spa membership and usage as a gift. Likewise, just because works (prompted by & empowered by the spirit) are involved in working out a believers eternal destiny, doesn't conflict with the fact that they are made righteous in justification at conversion and possess eternal life at this point.

    When properly understood, the works Calvinists refer to do not take away from the gift of eternal life, but are means of receiving and manifesting the gift - freely given to us and achieved solely by the meritorious work of Christ alone.

    By Blogger Brandon Presbyterian, at Friday, April 21, 2006 2:07:00 PM  

  • Jim,
    Well, I was thinking of the idea of working your way to heaven. The Catholic religion says that being a member of their church gives you the "opportunity" to participate in the sacraments (work out at the gym) and perhaps make it to heaven. This is not really a gift of eternal life, is it? ... just like the spa membership is not the gift of physical fitness. Paying off the credit cards was probably a poor idea of what real salvation is. I should work on that one. Maybe I should change the ending to this:

    ...If you really wanted to help me, you could put my name on the bank account that holds your millions. If I didn't have this great financial burden, I could work on some other things about myself.. Now, that would have been a great gift ... "

    Credit card abuse = abusing grace? hmmm... help me fix this one if you have any thoughts.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, April 21, 2006 3:22:00 PM  

  • Hi DF,
    I also see the issue with P of Calvinism. How can one possess a gift if it is incomplete? What kind of a gift is it if I give you a half-sculpted peice of marble?

    Hi Kris!
    You got me mixed up with Jodie, but I take this as a compliment. I also appreciate the other compliment. Do you have any other ideas to help it out - see my comment to Jim above. Thanks for the visit!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, April 21, 2006 3:28:00 PM  

  • Hi Ten Cent!
    Read my comments to Jim above and you can see what I was thinking, then maybe you can offer some help or a different perspective. I still don't think the mother can say that she gives the daughter the gift of "physical fitness" - she gives her gift of the opportunity for physical fitness.

    I wasn't equating being physically fit with salvation, I was equating that with a standard that seems to be hard to attain and ever changing. I was equating being debt free with salvation, but, like I said, maybe I can fix this one. Share some more thoughts if you can.

    Brandon,
    The point is that the mother lays another burden on the daughter. She has a huge burden of debt and not time to get out from under it - and the mom puts pressure on her about her physical body and lack of being "in shape." (maybe you would have to be a middle aged woman with an out spoken mother to understand this) ;~) This just adds to her stress and really doesn't help her with the BURDEN that she carries. That was my point.

    Salvation is more than an opportunity. This is not a good analogy for the Calvinist, I don't think, because if you want to equate salvation with the spa membership, then you have "the gift of God" reduced merely to an "opportunity" to work on something yourself. I have problems with that idea, don't you?

    No matter what physical trainer or encourager you have, you can not become physically fit without exerting and paining yourself.

    I think works are to manifest our salvation to the world as well, Brandon. How else will they know what we are unless we manifest the eternal life that we currently possess? Probably where we would see it differently is that I wouldn't think the daughter had not had her debt paid off if she still continued to be a spend thrift ... didn't join a gym ... but abused the favor her mom did for her. I would hope she wouldn't, but it wouldn't change the transaction of receiving her mothers wealth in exchange for her debt.

    Thanks for stopping by and feel free to share some more thoughts!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, April 21, 2006 3:48:00 PM  

  • The following is a better analogy of grace, faith, and works from a Calvinistic perspective:

    Once upon a time there was this young woman named Candy Cain who was hopelessly addicted to sweets of all kinds. She was about 100 pounds overweight and would do anything for sweets including stealing money from Mr. Jones who was providing a free apartment for her and other destitute young people. Mr. Jones knew she had been stealing from him to buy gourmet candies and sweets. By his grace and love alone, he gave her a large amount of money to break the addiction and lose the weight. He also gave her the requirements for being successful by taking her to a hospital where a new surgical procedure that he invented would re-program her taste buds. This caused her to dislike sweets and also made her prefer healthy non-fattening foods that Mr. Jones also provided. Mr. Jones did everything. She did not have to do anything at all and lost 100 pounds and became a very beautiful young woman. She then fell in love with a handsome young prince and they lived happily ever after. Needless to say she had a new affection for Mr. Jones and out of gratitude for what he had done for her, she visited him every Sunday, thanked him and insisted that she help him with his ministry to other young people.

    To change this to an Arminian analogy, simply change the surgical procedure to counseling where she would have to resist the sweets with her on free will. To make it a faith plus works analogy, add she would have to pay for the counseling.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Friday, April 21, 2006 4:29:00 PM  

  • It is a twist on the old "What if someone was offered a million dollars but never drafted the account?" illustration.

    The troubling point is that it fails to make an important distinction between the gift (club membership / eternal life) and the prize (physical fitness / kingdom rewards). This weakness is revealed in two ways. First, the label on the envelope, "the gift of physical fitness" is misleading. This is EXACTLY the mistake made by Calvinists and Arminians - conflating the gift (eternal life) with the prize (kingdom rewards). The Calvnist assumes that the cost of obtaining the prize - obedient discipleship - is intrinsic to the kind of faith that saves. The Arminian assumes that that same cost is required to keep the gift!

    The second place this weakness - conflating the gift and the prize - emerges is in the daughter's statement. "Without my time, commitment and effort, your gift is not worth the paper it is printed on" is clearly false. The gift is admission to a club that she could not afford. A financial transaction actually occurred when Mom paid for the membership. The fact that the daughter does not use it is irrelevant to the cost.

    Mom's retort introduces the distinction between the gift and the prize, so you've done a good job of moving in the right direction. "The rewards will be great!" Indeed the will. But in this illustration Mom is like a lot of preachers and believers who get confused on the difference between the gift and the prize.

    Maybe the illustration would be a little stronger if the envelope said, "You are now free to become fit, if you want!"

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Friday, April 21, 2006 7:01:00 PM  

  • Rose,
    I am so ashamed, this is twice! Not that calling you Jodie is bad like you said, I love you both. I really hate mixing people up. I am sorry.

    I think your credit card debt is very sufficient for the analogy. I would not change anything.

    Didn't Jesus tell a story about someone who owed a big debt and the person forgave it? Paying off a credit card for someone is good news to that person.......even if they fall away and run up another card, they know what the "reality" feels like to have someone take the debt away the first time and will not ever forget it. I know, I fell away from Christ for a time, but He was,is, and will ever be faithful even if I am faithless for He cannot deny Himself. I knew what the pearl of great price was, I experienced when I first believed in Christ for everlasting life. Just because I got caught up in legalism that didn't negate the gift and faithfulness of my Lord Jesus. Although thoroughly confused I knew that my credit card had been paid off at one time.
    I will not nitpick, I will not try to strain a nat out of your great analogy. Like I said, Rose, I liked it from the start.

    A Rose by anyother name is still a Rose. hehehe

    sorry
    Kris

    By Blogger Kris, at Friday, April 21, 2006 7:13:00 PM  

  • I think it is a good analogy.
    The emphasis though can easily be placed on the wrong point. The Gift of Gym membership, does not of itself provide physical fitness. It is the responce to the Gym membership that provides the fitnes. I do not think you were suggesting that the hard work is what provides the fitness but rather the Gym.

    This is the problem with physical analogies of our divine Salvation.

    Perhaps it would have been better if the moter was also willing to be a poersonal trainer.

    The Mother payed for the Gym menbership = Jesus payed for our Sin.

    The Daughter needs to use the membership to get any benifit = The sinner needs to respond to Jesus' gift of salvation through Grace.

    Once the daughter is using the Gym she is in full possesion of the gift and more work will not make the Gyme membership more hers, but more useful = Jesus saving Grace puts us on the narrow path to the narrow Gathe with Him. Once saved we are saved. THe more we submit to His will the more salty we will be and the better the whitness, submision to Him will not make us 'more saved'.

    thanks for the analogy rose~

    MDM

    By Blogger Modern Day Magi, at Saturday, April 22, 2006 5:13:00 PM  

  • i didnt phrase myself very well in the first paragraph but i hope you get my point from the rest of the above comment.

    MDM

    By Blogger Modern Day Magi, at Saturday, April 22, 2006 5:17:00 PM  

  • Jesus healed 10 lepers. Only one came back to thank him. He asked where the other 9 were. Hey they were healed and it was a gift. He then told the one who came back to thank him to go and "do".

    Jesus spoke of a creditor forgiving two men of there debts forgiving both of them as a free gift. The idea being conveyed in his illustration was that the one forgiven the most will be the most thankful.

    The apostle Paul said he was the most unworthy of all the Apostles and not even worthy to be named among them, but said that the Grace of God in him was not without affect. He said he labored harder than all the rest.

    I guess it is up to us whether we want to go to train at the spa, but the offer is still there to go and the expense for it has been paid as well. In fact we are encouraged to do so, but I think what Paul is telling us is why should we have to be encouraged when grace was enough for him, why isn't it enough of a motivation for us. Ouch! I am hurting my heart as I say this. He paid such an expensive price. The other good news is that he will help us in this endeavor as well, the more we identify with His resurrection power in the strength of His Holy Spirit. God desires disciplined and Holy living and He promises help in it, in fact He tells us we must have his help here as well as apart from him we can do nothing. John 15

    and again Jesus' words to the Leper:
    "Were there not 10 cleansed? Where are the other 9?"

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 4:43:00 AM  

  • Hi Jazzycat,
    1. No one loses weight in this way:
    Mr. Jones did everything. She did not have to do anything at all and lost 100 pounds and became a very beautiful young woman.
    It is by the sweat of your brow.

    2. I don't think your illustraion portrays the drama of salvation, but I think it was interesting. Thanks for offering it.

    Luke 18:9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.

    Jazzycat, the man "went home justified" - there is an immediate salvation that does not take a process like a diet and exercise program. That is why a debt being paid is used to present the picture of the gift - because it is an immediate present experience that takes no work. Meoooow!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 12:53:00 PM  

  • Hi Bud,
    The reason the girl could not use the member ship was because she was so taken up with her debt, so weighed down by it - that she has no time to go to the gym. If mom payedoff the debt and gave her a new lease on life, she could run for the prize. I am going to work on this one. When I first made it up, a few months ago, I wasn't even thinking of the rewards in heaven aspect. I was only trying to show that "the chance to earn and work for eternal life" is not a gift, but a burden. Thanks for your thoughts, Bud.

    Kris,
    Was that you the other time? I knew someone had, once before, mistaken me for Jodie, but I didn't know it was the same person twice - I forgot! Now that you mention it, yes, yes, it was you! Like I said - I count it as a compliment. God bless you, brother. Your thoughts are great to read. I concur.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 1:03:00 PM  

  • Hi Magi,
    Actually, I was thinking the gym was something separate than the gift that she really needed. She needed her debt paid off, she was drowning - overloaded with work that was never enough to meet the creditors demands. The gym was meant to be a side issue, but I see that if I rethink it, maybe I could link the two a little better. I like the thoughts you have offered. Veddy good! Thanks for coming over.

    Brian,
    Good thoughts. Yes, the illustrations that Jesus gave were so much simpler.
    Simple: gift.
    The Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. How simple is that?

    Christians should be the most thankful people in the world, shouldn't we?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 1:09:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 1:37:00 PM  

  • Rose,
    The Luke 18:9 passage you cited was very good and I agree totally with you. The tax collector had been given the gifts of faith and repentance. He was disgusted with being a sinner and begged God for mercy, "God, have mercy on me a sinner." He obviously was repenting, and had a new outlook and attitude. It is inconceivable that there would not be a change in his behavior toward sin. His justification was immediate and it would certainly lead to a process of sanctification by the power of God.

    Salvation comes with power as the hymn says "There is power in the blood."

    In my analogy, I made it clear that there was no work done to lose the weight as the surgery on the taste buds represents a gift just as the new heart of regeneration is a gift. Due to the surgery she no longer liked fattening foods just as regeneration causes a person to no longer wallow in and be a slave to sin.

    This is really fun stuff and it sharpens us all I think.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 1:42:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I think 'ten cent' made a valid observation that goes to the heart of this. If the mother not only paid the price but committed to helping the daughter apply it, it would fit a true Christian sense better.

    In a similar way, Jesus paid the price to save us all. But in so doing, He gives us a salvation that can either be neglected (Hebrews 2:3) or worked out with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).

    In two important passages, Paul describes what it means to 'work out our own salvation', and in both cases God Himself is the true worker:

    "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
    "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

    (Phil 2:12-13)

    and again:

    "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.
    "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

    (Eph 2:8-10)

    I think most Christians have a knee-jerk reaction to the word 'works' in conjunction with salvation, but the Bible speaks of this, in the pasages above and others, so all we relaly need to do is understand the relaitonship clearly. The true work is the Lord's, and in fact we are worked upon - we are the workmanship -- that we may glory only in Him.

    By Blogger Cleopas, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 2:33:00 PM  

  • Of course the experience of the tax colector is not necessarilly the only way in which a person might be converted.

    There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that a consciousness of sin and repentance is a condition of justifying faith.

    The problem with the Calvinist perspective on justification/ sanctification is that the Calvinist makes the process of sanctification a sign of justification.

    Thus, if the tax collector did not show sufficent signs of sanctification, the Calvinist would conclude that he was not justified at all.

    As Jazzycat says, it is inconceivable that he would not show a change in his behaviour. This is a result of his repentance.

    However, sanctification has a process element. If he later fell in to some sin and continued in it, there is the possibility that he would neglect the leading of the Holy Ghost and make his first faith shipwreck. He would thus face chastening with the possibility of his physical death.

    The Calvinist introduces a justification by works through the backdoor by making them a certain result of salvation.

    How can the tax collector have absolute confidence that his repentance is really sincere? Maybe it is only a false temporal change, such that Calvinists hold the unbelieving may display.

    If he falls into sin he may question the reality of his sanctification and thus his justification.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 3:02:00 PM  

  • Rose,
    I appreciate your comments and point out that while I recognized limitations both with the original analogy and my own, the point of my analogy was simply to show the fact that receiving a gift is not incompatable with other works. You are right in stating the limitation of the analogy (in equating spa membershp) would seem to suggest the gift of God is reduced merely to an opportunity to work on something yourself. (Yes, I have a problem with that too!) While I recognized that even in writing it, the single point of my analogy was to show the capatable relationship between a gift and resulting works (that do not make it any less of a gift.)

    Regarding Bud Brown's statements, he has simply set up a strawman when he states "The Calvnist assumes that the cost of obtaining the prize - obedient discipleship - is intrinsic to the kind of faith that saves." This is either to misunderstand or to misrepresent true Calvinism. No Calvinistic looks to obedient discipleship (or one's own works) as meritorious concerning justification; while we do acknowledge the place and value of obedient discipleship when it comes to sanctification. It seems, if I am correct, that his statements confuse the two.

    By Blogger Brandon Presbyterian, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 5:40:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Your quote "The Calvinist introduces a justification by works through the backdoor by making them a certain result of salvation."

    This is silly and the farthest from the truth. Stating that sanctification is the fruit of justification is not making justification by works in the backdoor. This is lunacy to a calvinist!!!!

    Free Gracers believer in God's redeeming grace and righteousness on their behalf, but they don't believe that all Christians will persevere in the faith or necessarily have sanctification.

    That's the difference of opinion, NOT justification. I'm surprised lots of free gracers are certain of this, but it is not true.

    Calvinists have always believe in the hope of Christ's finished work and and the completeness of Christ's justification and you seem to always make an association to romanism. This just shows a lack of understanding of historic calvinism.

    Consider Bunyan's words in what he saw as his righteousness was not in himself but only by Christs imputed righteousness alone. This is how each an every calvinist thinks. They are not justified by their works, but Christ's finished work alone on their behalf. PRAISE to HIS NAME who shall receive praise and honor

    "One day as I was passing into the field...this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness, for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, noyet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, "The same yesterday, today, and forever" Hebrews 13:8. Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflications and irons....Now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God."

    May we all go home rejoicing in this truth

    By Blogger Shawn L, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 6:43:00 PM  

  • Matthew said:
    “There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that a consciousness of sin and repentance is a condition of justifying faith.”
    Matthew, if one has no consciousness of sin and repentance for it, then one does not need a savior. Repentance goes with saving faith in conversion…..
    Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
    Acts 20:21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
    Acts 26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
    2 Cor 7:9 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
    2 Tim 2:25-26 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
    Heb 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    Matthew said:
    “The problem with the Calvinist perspective on justification/ sanctification is that the Calvinist makes the process of sanctification a sign of justification.”
    Sanctification is a sign of justification. If there is no sanctification, there has been no justification.
    Acts 26:18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

    The tax collector was repenting and showing signs of sanctification, however anyone not showing any signs of sanctification whatsoever would be suspect, although humans cannot make this judgment flawlessly. God can and he does. The inevitable change in behavior is a result of regeneration that leads to repentance and saving faith. Then come justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification at death.

    Calvinism does not introduce justification by works through the back door by making them a certain result of salvation. Sanctification is a certain result of salvation. Works contribute nothing to justification. We agree on that. Prayer results from a saving faith just as works do. Prayer and works are elements of a justified Christian, but reciting prayers and doing works do not justify.
    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 7:44:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Just reread my stuff, I'm not trying to be annoying, just very shocked surprised by your statements as all Christians should be reguarding justification. It's repulsive to think of my beliefs as back-door romanism.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. All of Grace from beginning to end!!! Amen

    By Blogger Shawn L, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 8:27:00 PM  

  • Jazzycat, all of those verses indicate the vital importance of repentance.

    However, none of them identify repentance as a condition of receiving eternal life.

    Theologically, there is a big difference between Calvinism and Romanism, that I would not deny. However, in practise, the Calvinist knows he must do works, or he may have only 'believed in vain' or be only a false professor.

    The Calvinist rightly holds that works contribut nothing to justification, but in practise they are treated as a sign of justifcation.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, April 24, 2006 12:23:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose :)

    (and hi Kris, thanks for the compliment :)

    What I love about this analogy is how neutral it is. And I think you can see it in the comments. It really helps to shed light on this big long standing disagreement of ours!

    The mom's gift is not bad, and certainly not ill-intentioned!, but calling it the gift of physical fitness is not really accurate. The gift is the membership; physical fitness itself is more of an opportunity that the daughter may achieve if she works hard for it.

    The call to discipleship is not a gift !!! It is (perhaps) more important than the gift, but it is not a gift!

    More importantly, the Word of God never inaccurately calls discipleship a gift. It is accurate even when it lightly uses paradox. But the NT message is not one big paradox, where something very, very costly is inaccurately called a gift.

    Great post !

    Jodie

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Monday, April 24, 2006 6:06:00 AM  

  • Hi Loren,
    I think Christians should do good works and work OUT their own salvation. I think the main point where you and I differ is that I think we already have the salvation - we are sealed and it is accomplished. I am glad you read here and comment. I read your comment twice as I always do with yours. thanks.

    Jazzy and Brandon,
    I appreciate both of you coming here too.

    Shawn,
    You too!

    Let me say something in my own words that I think explains the problem with the idea of unconditional election and too much emphasis on this and P.

    You are convinced that there is a set number of elect. You know that this was determined before you were ever born - you focus on this. It is ever before your mind. You have no way of knowing that you are one of them. The Word says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. If you could leave it at that, you could have peace. But ... the idea of spurious faith, combined with the thought of perseverance needed for assurance and final salvation - doesn't that leave you - in times of failing or doubt to wonder - even for a little minute - if maybe you are not "one of them"? If I were a Calvinist, it would plague me! The simple approach eliminates all of this problem. The Word says "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." ... because of all that He has ALREADY DONE. He has accomplished it - tetelesti!
    I know I have believed him, so no matter what happen from here on out - nothing I or anyone else can ever do can take that away. It is accomplished. This is what the Lord wants for His children - I have learned this from the Scriptures. I think the other way would be really tough on a soul. This is not peace.

    I don't think you guys are "working your way to heaven", but I wish you the peace that comes from the simplicty of the gospel message on salvation ond the promise of life with God forever based on Christ's work as described in the Word of God. It also eliminates the pride of Luke 18:11.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, April 24, 2006 3:35:00 PM  

  • Oh, to you Calvinists:
    Every Blessing in Christ

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, April 24, 2006 3:36:00 PM  

  • Hi Jodie,
    Thanks for commenting on this again. Your thoughts have really helped me a lot as I have waded through the blogoshpere and gotten a very shocking education! Thanks.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, April 24, 2006 3:37:00 PM  

  • Jazzy, Brandon and Shawn,
    If my comment above came off as condescending or anything mean-spirited, it wasn't meant to. I was just trying to tell you in simple terms what I think the problem is with too much focus on the "Doctrines of Grace." God bless you.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 4:51:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    I understand and good point about Luke 18:11.

    I feel as if I live and breath grace each moment of my life. My works are as filthy rags apart from God's grace and redeeming mercy. Yes I have had doubts in my heart about my salvation a few times in my life, but I went back to the scripture. I believe the scriptures as well and I believe with certainty the power of God's preserving grace as I look to the future of what he has promised in his children because of Christ's death and resurrection. This is all of Grace based on Christ death and I look to Him it is accomplished.

    What saddens me most is we as believers talk more about what we disagree with on blogs more than what we agree with so you may be seeing just the disagreements as the central thoughts of a calvinist. This does seriously shock me as in my own body of Believers this is not the case. We worship together because we love Christ and our differences aren't the central topic of the day but the greater and greater displays of God's greatness helping one another to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind.

    My thoughts normally similar as yours are all of the time. My central thoughts become normally in awe of God's grace and thinking of God's grace and mercy.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:24:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    I mean "most of the time", by saying most of our thoughts are the same and very similar, but not exactly the same.

    I'll sent you and email about something else.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:32:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Brandon Presbyterian, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 6:55:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    I do not take your comments as condescending, but receive them in the tone and for the purpose you state.

    You state “You are convinced that there is a set number of elect.”
    Do you deny God’s special calling of the elect into fellowship with Jesus Christ? Do you deny that God chose believers in Christ before the creation of the world?

    You state: “You know that this was determined before you were ever born - you focus on this. It is ever before your mind. You have no way of knowing that you are one of them.” Do we really have any “less” knowledge of this than you do? How does there being a set number affect the difference between your and my knowing that we are part of that number. Do Calvinists not depend on the promises of God, the testimony of the Spirit, etc., just like others?

    You state: “The Word says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” I do. I am.

    You state: “If you could leave it at that, you could have peace.” I have perfect peace. There is now no condemnation for those found in Christ Jesus.

    You state: “But ... the idea of spurious faith…” Do you deny that there are some who believe they will be saved who won’t. What do you do with those who claim “Lord, Lord” but Christ will say he never knew them? Here’s the point, do you deny that one cannot have false assurance in the sense that in failing to come to a right knowledge of salvation, they comfort themselves with thoughts of comfort and safety, though they have never come to have the right “object” of their faith… that being Christ Jesus. You see Calvinists believe anyone truly trusting in Christ will be saved. However, we do not deny the possibility and probability that there may be some (or many) who though they may claim to be Christians, have never trusted in Christ, something that surely would evidence itself in their failure to turn and in their actions.

    You state” …combined with the thought of perseverance needed for assurance and final salvation - doesn't that leave you - in times of failing or doubt to wonder - even for a little minute - if maybe you are not "one of them"?”
    No. In fact in this case it is ONLY the Calvinist who can have assurance. How can YOU have hope if you doubt? But for the Calvinist, our hope is not in ourselves but in God. As the Scripture states: “Though my strength and my heart may fail, God is my hope and my portion forever.” There’s a difference in resting in the strength of one’s own faith for assurance and resting in the sovereign mercy and grace of God for assurance. Not only this, but there’s also a significant difference between looking to one’s works as a determination of one’s election (which Calvinists do not do) and looking to one’s works as a fruit and measure of confirmation of one’s election. In this, non Calvinists often misunderstand and misrepresent the true teaching of Calvinism, and also fail to experience the benefits enjoyed by adherents of Calvinism.

    You state: “If I were a Calvinist…”
    Perhaps one day you will be…

    You state “The simple approach eliminates all of this problem. The Word says "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." ... because of all that He has ALREADY DONE. He has accomplished it - tetelesti!” I agree.

    You state: “I know I have believed him, so no matter what happen from here on out - nothing I or anyone else can ever do can take that away.” I agree with the latter, provided the former is true.

    You state: “It is accomplished. This is what the Lord wants for His children - I have learned this from the Scriptures.” No better place to look or stand upon.

    You state: “I don't think you guys are "working your way to heaven"…” We’re not. We trust solely in Christ and his substitutionary atonement as the only grounds for our salvation.

    You state: “but I wish you the peace that comes from the simplicity of the gospel message on salvation and the promise of life with God forever based on Christ's work as described in the Word of God.” Your wish upon us is praiseworthy, but as shown above, only Calvinists truly possess such lasting peace.

    You state: “ It also eliminates the pride of Luke 18:11.” This mischaracterizes the Calvinists as if to say we do not acknowledge and confess our guilt. Hardly so…it is the Calvinist that acknowledges our total depravity. In fact, while not in all cases, the probability of one erring with this type pride lies on the side of non-Calvinists, in the possibility that some could errantly be resting in their own faith (i.e. works righteousness) (not referring to faith as an instrument, but to the nature/measure of their faith) rather than grace for salvation.

    Every blessing in Christ,
    Tim

    By Blogger Brandon Presbyterian, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 8:31:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    You said:

    "I think Christians should do good works and work OUT their own salvation. I think the main point where you and I differ is that I think we already have the salvation - we are sealed and it is accomplished."

    There is not a difference here, that is what I beieve too. I also believe that 'working out our own salvation' essentially means that we are being conformed to the image of Christ as a result of His handiwork in our lives - for He is our seal and our fruit to eternal life:

    "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
    (John 6:27)

    By Blogger Cleopas, at Wednesday, April 26, 2006 5:49:00 AM  

  • Loren (Cleopas),
    I thought I read a few months ago in your "letters to ____" (I'm drawing a blank as to the name) letters to someone on assurance, that you said the issue of "losing one's salvation" was really a mis-statement since we don't actually have the salvation until the end of our life - if we are then found "in Him". Did I misunderstand you? If so, I regret it.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, April 26, 2006 9:28:00 AM  

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