Is Faith to be Qualified by Works?
The following is a response to Tim's comments on my previous post Are We Saved by Faith Alone or by Faith That is Not Alone?
*true* faith, the kind through which salvation is obtained, is always accompanied by works. This is how we human beings recognize salvation in others: by seeing works, and recognizing them as those "which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
Where do you get the notion that faith produces works? What is your definition of faith? Now I will agree that we often use our faith to produce works, and that we ought to. But that faith necessitates a life of persevering works is quite another thing altogether. What I am getting from you here is that the faith that saves is some superlative “faith” that is different from the everyday faith that we exercise. If this is true, what would be your biblical argument that saving faith is a special kind of faith? I suppose for you what makes saving faith “saving” is the quality of the faith? I say that what makes saving faith saving is not the special quality of the faith but the object of the faith, Jesus Christ.
Heb 11:1 states that faith is certainty and assurance. Is it not true that a person can be convinced of something yet not act on it? Isn’t this the usual case when Christians sin?
I know people who are convinced, believe, have faith that diet and exercise can save them from the deadly consequences of heart disease, yet their lives are not characterized by watching what they eat and physical exercise. I guess you would say that they have a “spurious” faith! But they are indeed convinced and believe in diet and exercise. What is the difference between this faith and saving faith other than the object? Works! Therefore if there are no works, hell is certain!
I would agree that a purpose of our eternal salvation is to do the works that God has set up for us (Eph 2:10), but that this is a necessary relationship has been by far undemonstrated merely quoting the text. Eph 2:10 uses the subjunctive “peripateswmen” in a purpose clause: “should walk”. Nowhere in this text is it adduced that it is a necessary relationship, but only that it is an expected relationship.
it is also true that the Holy Spirit does not indwell someone without some measure of practical sanctification. It's just not God's style to be ineffective.
I wonder. If God’s grace completely justifies now, eternally saves now, if the Holy Spirit completely indwells now, how is it the man is not completely sanctified now? It would seem that God’s grace is somewhat ineffective.
Wouldn’t it be easier to see that man has a will to pursue or spurn the graces and leading of God? Everytime a Christian sins he is spurning the graces and leading of God and he grieves the Holy Spirit. And if he can do this some of the time, why not see that he can do it all of the time? If the Christian cannot fall away stopping permanently progressive sanctification, what is the use of all the warnings directed to Christians that they need to endure or else some consequence of one thing or another will befall them?
How is it in Calvinist theology that God will keep the Christian from the really huge sins, or their lives being characterized by them, but His grace is insufficient, or ineffective to keep the Christian from the plethora of little sins that he must confess every single day?
You contention that it is “not God’s style to be ineffective” diverts attention from the real issues. Christian’s sin. Why doesn’t God keep them from sinning?
I say because God doesn’t drag people down the path of obedience. He gives them all things that pertain to life and godliness, precious promises, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the seed of divine life (our regenerate nature), He will chasten, discipline, direct, encourage, etc., but He will not drag someone down the path of obedience! Practical sanctification is the synergistic activity of God and the Christian. If the Christian does not do his part, he will not be sanctified! God has promised rewards for those who obey, and loss and discipline for those Christians who do not!
You quote Is 55:10-11. Is it God’s word that caused you to sin today? (I am assuming that you have the humbleness to admit such). Is God’s word in your life purposeful only for “partial” sanctification mixed with sin? God’s word says “be holy for I am holy”. Does that leave room for the sin that we commit every day? I don’t think so.
Why is God’s grace completely effective to bring about regeneration and justification, but is ineffective to keep you from the small sins that you sin every day?
Abraham's faith, through which he obtained salvation, was the same faith that enabled him to be willing to offer up Isaac. You cannot separate the two. If Abraham had not had a faith that was capable of producing action, then God would never have credited it to him as righteousness, because it would not have been faith.
Are you saying that Abraham’s faith through which he was justified necessitated him to proceed with offering up Isaac? How come your faith didn’t necessitate you to be sinlessly perfect today? Are you saying that if Abraham hadn’t offered up Isaac that he wouldn’t have been saved? That is what is sounds like to me! And that would be works-salvation.
How come Abraham’s faith didn’t necessitate him telling the truth to Abimelech?
So faith is not faith unless it is “capable of producing action”? So you qualify faith by works? Faith is not faith unless it is accompanied by works! “We aren’t saved by faith + works but faith that is accompanied by works.” Faith + works or faith accompanied by works are two ways of saying the exact same thing! No works = hell, thus making works a condition for final salvation, thus making Perseverance theology a works-salvation position.
I thought that faith was the conviction and assurance of the veracity and truth of something (Heb 11:1). Now I am being told that faith is not faith without the qualifier of works!
The Calvinist’s dilemma:
Some verses condition salvation on faith alone in Christ alone.
Other verses seem to condition salvation on works, and perseverance in works.
The Calvinist’s solution:
Modify the experimental data on the verses that say that simple belief in Christ saves.
Secondary assumption made: Simple faith is not the whole story, from our analogy of faith we must include the idea of perseverance in works.
Modify the experimental data on the verses that seem to condition salvation on works, perseverance in works.
Secondary assumption made: these verses just show the outworking of faith. “TRUE” faith, IOW, really big, big, big, faith, includes the idea of a perseverance in works, includes the idea of obedience.
Why not just see that eternal life is by the simple exercise of faith that takes Jesus at His word when He guarantees eternal life to the believer?
Why not just see that when salvations spoken about in the Bible are conditioned on works, that this salvation cannot be the justification-by-faith-alone salvation spoken of elsewhere? “Salvation” has a wide berth of semantical range, with many different usages!
Isn’t it odd, Paul says “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness”?
What The Traditionalists have done here, in their doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, is short-circuit Paul’s claim that it through faith apart from works by importing into “faith” the qualifier of “works”! This is shamefully heretical, and is nothing but dressed up works-righteousness.
As concerning your reference of Hebrews, I wonder which tact you take. Are you like a Pink or a Shedd who thinks the warning passages are for Christians, or do you line up with a MacArthur who says the warning passages are for “professing” but not “possessing” Christians? For I would like to question your understanding of Hebrews based upon the warning passages.
Tim, you say:
"were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us."
Do you know to whom John is speaking about (2 John 2:18 might help you there)? Do you know who the “us” is in this verse? What was the point of contention between those who went out and those who remained?
If you want to read an exegetical commentary on this passage you quote as a proof-text without a shred of argumentation supporting your interpretation of it, click this link to my blog:
1 John 2:19 Commentary
Yes, yes, I know: Hebrews is talking about Judaizers and 1 John is talking about Gnostics, they both have this in common: Both at first appeared to be Christians; to have been justified through faith; but in both cases this was not true: and their actions eventually bore out the truth.
Gnostics and false-prophets aren’t found out by their works, but by their doctrine (remember, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing!)
There is no sense in scripture of a faith accepted by God which produces no action:
Does faith now have a mind of its own? Does faith have power over your will or does your will determine to act on faith?
By your insistence that faith necessarily produces persevering works until death in the lives of true Christians, you have made works a condition for heaven. If there are no persevering works, there is no heaven. Without persevering works, there is no heaven.
If perseverance in works are a necessary result of the faith and if a man cannot be saved without them, then the works are, in fact, a condition for salvation. If they are not present, the man will perish. Necessary results for which we are responsible are the same as conditions.