The Fork in the Road: The Man or the Plan, Part 6 (Repentance)

Repentance

Let’s turn back to Rom 10, the home of many Plan of Salvation proof texts, and take a fresh look –

(Rom 10:9-17 ESV) 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Notice the impact of verses 14-15. In context, Paul is discussing the nature of mission work. People cannot be saved without someone being sent to preach the word because faith comes from hearing the word preached. It’s common sense. And this is the closest we come to the Plan of Salvation in a single passage, but Paul here says nothing of baptism or even repentance. Just hear, believe, confess, be saved.

But “faith” itself includes the idea of repentance, because it includes faithfulness. To believe in Jesus is not the same as merely believing Jesus. Rather, Christian faith is faith that is loyal and faithful to its object.

Well, let me be a bit more precise here. We use “repent” as “leave behind your life of sin.” But that’s not how the word is always used —

(Act 20:18-21 ESV) 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Act 26:19-20 ESV) 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Notice that repentance is “repent and turn to God” and “repentance toward God.” I think we repent by turning toward God, and I think we turn toward God by having faith in Jesus. But, of course, faith in Jesus includes faithfulness to Jesus as Lord.

As stated in Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 289,

The [grammatical] evidence suggests that, in Luke’s usage, saving faith includes repentance. In those texts which speak simply of faith, a “theological shorthand” seems to be employed: Luke envisions repentance as the inceptive act of which the entirety may be called pistis. Thus, for Luke, conversion is not a two-step process, but one step, faith – but the kind of faith that includes repentance. This, of course, fits well with the frequent idiom of first subset of second for imper­sonal TSKS constructions.

(emphasis in original). It makes sense for Paul to call on Jews to “repent” even if they were moral followers of the Torah. It wasn’t so much that they needed to repent of sin but that they needed to turn toward God by following his Son in faith. Hence, Acts 2:38 should be interpreted, not as presenting a distinct step in the Plan, but as commanding faith in Jesus —

(Act 2:36-38 ESV) 36 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In v. 36, Peter presents Jesus as “Lord” and “Christ,” the two central truth claims of Christian faith. Not all those present had participated in his crucifixion, but all had failed to recognize him as the true Lord and Messiah. Therefore, as they’d rejected God in the flesh, they’d rejected God himself — and had to repent, that is, turn toward God by having faith in Jesus.

This interpretation explains why “faith” is not expressly found in Acts 2:38 and why repentance is. “Repent” can certainly be used of turning from a particular sin or sin in general, but it’s also used of turning toward God through faith in Jesus. And as we see in Josephus and in Acts 20:21, “repent” and “faith” can be used together to refer to turning toward God through faith in Jesus. Compare Mark 1:15 and Acts 19:4.

You see, for a non-Christian, merely leaving sin without turning toward God through Jesus has no value. True repentance requires faith. The promise of faithfulness and loyalty found in “faith” combined with belief in who Jesus is and his promises is the only repentance that counts for anything. Repentance, therefore, is not a separate step from faith. Faith, indeed, requires repentance to be faith. James would agree.

Hear, believe, repent, confess

I have to tell a story on myself. As you might have guessed, I’ve been a smart aleck all my life. In about the 4th grade, my Sunday school teacher taught us the Five Steps. She went through all five with appropriate proof texts, having us each haltingly read the text for each step. She asked, “Any question?”

I responded, “What’s next? Once we’re baptized are well all done? Do we get to go to heaven? What about the rest of our lives?”

She was stumped. She said she’d speak with the preacher and get back with us. The next week, there were Six Steps. She added,

Live faithfully unto death (Rev 2:10).

And so I asked, “How good do we have to be to be ‘faithful’?” And this, again, gave the teacher pause. She explained that God has a book of life that records our good deeds and bad deeds and he’d judge us based us on how we lived.

And so I asked, “How many good deeds are required?”

Now, this wasn’t deep theology. I was worried. I’m the third child with two older sisters. To me, “good deeds” meant helping little old ladies across the street — which my grandmother absolutely refused to let me do — and bad deeds meant making my sisters miserable. So the numbers looked insurmountable, something like 0 to 1,000,000. I was a master at making my sisters miserable, and I couldn’t find a single old lady to help across the street. I couldn’t even persuade myself that heaven was enough of a reward to justify having to make up my own bed!

That’s the religion I was taught as a child. Yes, faith is a step, but it’s only one step of thousands — maybe millions — of essential good deeds. “Grace” is what Baptists believed.

But now we see that the Plan of Salvation is reduced to faith + baptism, because “faith” necessarily includes believing (in the acceptance of a truth claim sense), confessing (how else would we know you have faith?), and repentance (faithfulness).

And as much as we’d like to jump straight to baptism, we really have to notice that “faith” is not just how we get into the church. It’s also how we stay in the church.

(Rom 1:17 NIV) For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

What would be the point of being saved by faith at the moment of baptism and then saved by works for the rest of my life? If works wouldn’t get me in, what would make me think that works would keep me in?

(Rom 5:1 ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Rom 3:21-25 ESV) 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Notice that 5:1 says “have been” (implying that it’s still true), not “had been” (once was true but no longer is). Notice that in 3:24 “are justified” is present tense, implying continuous action.

Now, this is key because it explains how so many NT writers can say that all with faith are saved. Paul himself says in the passage quoted above –

(Rom 10:10-11 ESV) 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

And this is in one of the main Plan of Salvation proof texts! Paul could hardly be clearer in saying over and over and over that faith is enough to save!

And this fits. “Faithful” unto death means true the faith that saved us in the first place. The rules don’t change. We grow in faith, but Jesus stilll saves us through faith.

Now, if you read the comments, many object because they see obedience as essential, but, of course, the idea of faithfulness includes obedience. As does repentance. And Jesus demands faithfulness (or repentance or obedience).

Now, this point inevitably raises two closely related points. The first is obedience. Don’t we have to “obey” to go to heaven? The second is closely connected: Don’t we have to be baptized?

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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33 Responses to The Fork in the Road: The Man or the Plan, Part 6 (Repentance)

  1. Price says:

    You used the phrase "saving faith"…..That's sort of right in MHO….I'm totally sold out on the faith aspect of Christianity…All the works stuff is reputiated time and time again as something that "saves" but yet it's always associated, as in the book of James, as outward manifestations of an invward reality. But as you pointed out our works don't save…

    Grace by faith saves us…the text couldn't be more clear…We can't save ourselves…We aren't and never will be good enough.. The first part of Romans 8 makes that abundantly clear.

    I'm with Max on Baptism…not sure that I fully understand all the implications of this amazing and wonderful experience but I'm quite certain, in MY mind, that it isn't a salvation work that I do in order to be saved. It is something that I do to publically to affirm my sincere desire to accept Christ as my Savior and begin my Christian walk with a sincere act of obedience. I know that separates me from many a brother who depend on their own actions for some sense of participation in their salvation…I really do hate that but I don't agree regardless of the 3 basic proof texts that they provide…The texts concerning faith out number water salvation 10:1….But, as a sincere Christian who adores the Lord I would find it a tell-tale sign of a fake faith if one objected to being baptized. "Saving Faith" is an active faith, it's a desire and a life long comittment to be obedient though we fail miserably in that attempt. It's Trust in Grace.

    What the Law was unable to do through us, since we were weak in our flesh, God did…by sending His own son in the likeness of human flesh..and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh…Rom 8:3
    I don't see my participation in that except as the sinner in need of a redemptive God…

  2. laymond says:

    Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    Who are we to believe ?
    14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?

    I agree with Paul in this point, those mentioned, in Mat 7:21 evidently did believe. Even the demons believe.

    ———- " but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven"
    seems to me we first have to believe,but it don;t stop there, there are things we have to do, like the will of the Father.

  3. Trent Tanaro says:

    Great post Brother!
    This "cart before the horse theology" (plan before Christ), as one of my Elder's I work with says it, has become so engrained within our heritage that it is as deep as the old sacred cow of three songs, a prayer, and a sermon…etc that we can't see past our own noses on the debate.
    We can post and grab all the bcv (book,chapter, and verse) we want, but it still does not change the fact that Jesus is King and faith in him comes long before the plan.
    Thanks again Brother for challenging us.
    Trent

  4. abasnar says:

    Faith is loyalty, as has been mentioned in an earlier post (referring to N.T. Wright's quote of Josephus.)

    Being loyal to Christ means being sold out to Him (not to a faith aspect), which leads to uncompromised obedience.

    Replace faith with loyalty (the same word) and you get the point. If we understand faith wrong, then we misunderstand how salvation works.

    And that's why Laymond is absolutely correct in pointing out, that quoting "faith-only" verses is leading nowhere …

    Alexander

  5. nick gill says:

    Laymond commented:

    I agree with Paul in this point, those mentioned, in Mat 7:21 evidently did believe. Even the demons believe.
    ———- ” but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”
    seems to me we first have to believe,but it don't stop there, there are things we have to do, like the will of the Father.

    Jay wrote (emphasis mine):

    And this fits. “Faithful” unto death means true to the faith that saved us in the first place. The rules don’t change. We grow in faith, but Jesus still saves us through faith.
    Now, if you read the comments, many object because they see obedience as essential, but, of course, the idea of faithfulness includes obedience. As does repentance. And Jesus demands faithfulness (or repentance or obedience).

    Clearly, Jay can predict the future.

  6. nick gill says:

    Alexander:

    And that’s why Laymond is absolutely correct in pointing out, that quoting “faith-only” verses is leading nowhere …

    It blows my mind that one who argues so vociferously for singing Scripture to one another could make such a comment about quoting Scripture. One of the major ways that the Holy Spirit uses Scripture to teach us what is important to God is by repetition. If a word or a concept appears over and over and over and over, chances are it is pretty important – pretty central to the matter at hand. Chances are we are misunderstanding it if we relegate it to a minor place, and elevate one way of expressing it (however important that one way certainly is) to the primary position in our discussions of salvation.

    "Quoting faith-only verses" only leads nowhere if the goal of such quotation is to assert salvation by mental assent.

    If the goal is to challenge the traditional definition of faith, to define 'faith' more biblically, so that faith can no longer be seen as one rung on the ladder to salvation (that's not rhetoric, that's the actual teaching framework used in Ivan Stewart's Open Bible Study), then "quoting faith-only verses" to show how the Bible most often uses the word pistis can lead somewhere very important.

    I keep putting quotes around the phrase "quoting faith-only verses" because I'm increasingly uncomfortable with that terminology. It has been used pejoratively for centuries, and it begs precisely the question we're trying to discuss. The whole point of what Jay's writing here is precisely the fact that there is not such thing as faith-only! I feel like if I keep calling them "faith-only" passages, I will be buying into the very school of thought (that faith is only a step) that is killing the brotherhood.

    What frustrates me even more is how blithely we ignore the historical context behind charis and pistis – how those words would have been rooted in the ancient patron-client relationship. Brothers would rather take up keyboards against one another in re-enactments of the conflicts between Luther, et al, on the one side and the RCC on the other – they would rather do that (accepting the terms of the false dilemma that created Protestantism) than let themselves be challenged by someone who has rejected both "works-salvation" and "faith-only salvation" in favor of salvation by Biblical faith.

    If I understand him correctly, Jay is teaching us that as long as faith is understood as merely one step in the plan of salvation, our people are teaching and accepting a works-salvation. Until faith is understood Biblically – in such a way that it encompasses the whole discussion of salvation, without excluding obedience – this struggle will continue.

    "Faith-only" will not save, but neither will "faith-and" – EVEN IF you follow that "and" with "obedience". Only the robust, whole-hearted, full-bodied faith that we clients owe to the King of Kings and Patron of Patrons will save.

  7. Price says:

    The part about works that concerns me the most is something that Jay said earlier…how much is enough? Jesus commented in Matthew 7 that even those people that had enough faith to: 1) Prophesy 2) Cast out Demons and 3) do great works of Power (dunamis) wasn't enough. He would tell them I NEVER KNEW YOU…Which I take to mean that even though they were able to do these things by the authority of His name that Jesus wasn't pleased….So how many of us have prophesied, cast out demons or done miraculous works ?? How would what you and I have done in our Christian walk compare to this list of exceptional yet insufficient works? As for me…I'm glad I'm not measured by my works but by my dependance on the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace, Grace, Marvelous Grace, Grace that is greater than all my sin.

  8. Rich W says:

    I have totally lost the point of this series of posts. We only need faith but faith includes… Faith, repentance and confession are there but baptism is missing when a few verses earlier in Romans a whole treatise on the importance of baptism is clear.

    Perhaps Phil's article does overly emphasize the plan. Perhaps he was attempting to highlight a gap in progressive theology. Jay is certainly trying to point out a gap in conservative theology. Perhaps both are exaggerations to make a point.

    Nonetheless, this series of posts builds walls rather than bridges. So much for unity.

    Sorry, folks. My patience is wearing thin at the moment.

  9. Alabama John says:

    I think when we talk in private with one another, we agree that faith is all that is needed and having that faith will cause us to do the things of works to please God.
    Same with a marriage, if we men love our wives, we will do what pleases her as much as possible without being commanded to do so. Same with Jesus and God whether in scriptures or not as we live in different times. We drive a Pickup rather than walking everywhere or riding an Ass.
    The real problem for us in these old centuries old discussions is that the baptist teach this faith will cause the works and we do not want to be as them or any denomination teaching this principle. If they teach the sky is blue, we feel they are going to hell for their teaching error so the sky can be red at times so we'll hang on that.
    Our tradition overrides study in many cases and that's why so many churches are losing their better educated children!

  10. nick gill says:

    Rich, I feel like the point of this series of posts is to get to a place where believers can quote the traditional "faith-only" verses without apology, and without being treated like an antinomian.

  11. Alabama John says:

    Nick,

    A what? That word is not even in my dictionary!

    Please define.

  12. nick gill says:

    Antinomian

    Paul was addressing antinomianism when he wrote, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

    If a brother quotes one of these faith passages without immediately following it up with Acts 2:38 or Mark 16:16, they are treated as if they adhere to the position Paul attacks in Romans 6:1

  13. Alabama John says:

    Got it!

    Same bunch that says if a person comes to the front and makes the good confession and then has a car accident and dies on the way to a church with a baptistry to be baptized is lost!

    Should of obeyed an hour earlier or later to miss the accident.

    Too bad! Burn in hell for eternity because someone ran into you.

    What about the one that ran into you? Did they cause one to lose their soul? What is said about that?

    WE can get a little silly can't we. Pharisees would welcome and rejoice over some of us.

  14. guy says:

    Jay,

    i'm still missing why we ought to expect that all items on the plan list ought to be found altogether in any one passage.

    –guy

  15. nick gill says:

    i’m still missing why we ought to expect that all items on the plan list ought to be found altogether in any one passage.

    since Jay's out of town and these are posting on a schedule, he probably won't be able to answer this very soon.

    I would venture to guess, though, that

    A) if getting the plan perfectly correct is essential for salvation; and since

    B) the earliest Christians didn't have the whole collection of NT books to look for; then

    C) perhaps Luke might have written down such essential doctrine somewhere in his record of apostolic preaching?

    Not one, in any recorded apostolic sermon, can we Behold The Plan. And yes, I know that "with many other words they exhorted them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation!'"

    But the question remains, if God was so clear in the OT with the Law, that He wrote it himself (Deut 4:13) and gave it to Moses to read the entire thing before the people at one time (Ex 24:3) … why would He not be at least as accommodating for His New Covenant people?

  16. nick gill says:

    Guy,

    I'm missing why we shouldn't have such an expectation, considering God's history of delivering essential requirements?

  17. ao says:

    Nick,

    I really appreciate all your thoughtful responses to people's comments. Great insights. Keep it up, brother.

  18. Rich W says:

    Nick,

    During my college years (many moons ago) I questioned every known cofC doctrine much like people here. At the same time, I studied and explored several other groups.

    I vividly remember a conversation with a person who was describing faith and grace virtually identically as is advocated on this site. I inquired the proper Christian response in some particular situations. My conclusion was the person (representing a popular group) was clearly advocating antinomianism.

    That's why I squirm when I hear people emphasize the faith only passages. Not that the passages aren't there, but in reality, many, many people interpret them differently because they are compartmentalizing the word faith. Faith has a much broader scope than most people emphasize.

  19. Price says:

    I have a question…regarding antinomianism…
    Is there a difference between regarding religious "rules" as irrelevant (antinomianism) and regarding them as non-salvific ?? To me it seems very unlikely that God would give us a code of conduct that He intended us to totally disregard. At the same time our ability to adhere to the code of conduct, He says, is impossible and that we cannot save ourselves through works.

    Perhaps He uses our life instructions as a way to Sanctify us…grow us in maturity and knowledge about ourselves, our neighbor and Him ?? That the Faith that we have in Jesus will cause us to attempt to walk the Christian walk and by that experience we grow !!

  20. Alabama John says:

    Price, good post and right on.

    If we differ so much with each other on salvation issues requirements given us in a very short book,, either we have a God that sure made it hard to understand or He likes to see us arguing. Or just maybe WE are not getting it since its so simple.
    No doubt our life here is a test for something hereafter we don't really understand and we do grow by this lifes experiences either toward wrong or toward God, its our individual choice.
    Never forget in these debates that God has an ability we cannot understand and that is He can see, understand and judge our heart.
    Above all, we are to love one another and love God. The emphasis was not on rules. We put it there out of our egos!

  21. NPA says:

    "Perhaps Phil’s article does overly emphasize the plan. Perhaps he was attempting to highlight a gap in progressive theology. Jay is certainly trying to point out a gap in conservative theology."

    Both progressive and conservative theology fail, because they are wrangling over what he sophist/heretic Paul said in Romans rather than following what Jesus taught in Matthew.

  22. Alabama John says:

    NPA,

    AMEN

    I'l take Jesus over Paul any day!

  23. Anne says:

    This is getting just a little confusing. We must hear, believe and repent, but are saved by faith. We don’t have faith in a plan, but Jesus who saves us. But, we believe that all five things listed in the “plan” as important, but not important because that would mean we believe in a plan. Faith saves us but not baptism because believe and you’ll be saved passages outnumber baptism passages. Also baptism can’t save us because we’re not saved by works even though in John 6 when the crowd asks what works God requires Jesus replies believe, so that makes believe a work so I guess believing won’t save us either because it is a work. We believe that baptism is important but it doesn’t save us because we’ve already been saved by obedience or is it faith? Or baptism does save us but not really because our faith in Jesus saves us, but baptism is important or believe and baptism saves us, no ahhhhhh. I think I’m getting a migraine.

  24. Jay Guin says:

    Anne,

    Let me see if I can help.

    * I've not yet addressed baptism. We'll get there.

    * The immediate goal is to figure out how the NT uses "faith." And it uses it in a way that includes "Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess." All are subsumed in "faith."

    * BUT these four are not as big as faith. After all, "faith" is specifically faith in Jesus, the Five Steps say little about Jesus or what faith in him involves. And they say nothing at all about trusting in him. Faith is BIGGER than the first four of the Five Steps.

    * Moreover, we often fail to teach repentance as submission to Jesus as Lord, while we often teach that repentance means obeying a bunch of rules inferred from the scriptures on very questionable grounds.

    * Finally (for now), faith is Jesus focused, Jesus centered, and specifically faith in Jesus — not faith in a system of how to do church. And our Five Steps often ignore or minimize that fact.

    Hence, we "hear" about Jesus. We believe in Jesus — by believing he is Lord and Messiah, by trusting his promises, and by committing to being faith.

    We "repent" by turning to God through faith in Jesus — which leads us away from sin and toward a faithful life.

    We confess Jesus by confessing our faith in him. We declare ourselves loyal to him.

    It's ALL about Jesus. The area where we are weakest is in our lack of trust in him. He has promised over and over and over to save those with faith in him. We don't trust that promise.

    We try to escape having to trust it by pretending that "faith" only means that we believe he is the Messiah — whereas it means much, much more.

    We try to escape by pretending that obedience must be added to faith, whereas faith includes faithfulness.

    We try to escape by pretending that we aren't faithful unless we agree with certain preachers regarding instrumental music, hats in the building, the use of the church treasury, fellowship halls — whereas faithfulness is about our hearts (and faithful hearts lead to obedient lives, although faithful hearts can disagree about how or whether to apply the teachings of Clement of Alexandria).

    We try to escape by pretending that love is easy and not sufficient evidence of faithfulness. And so we are often very weak in living a life of love. Rather, we'd prefer to focus on those preacher-made rules.

    I've not explained it yet, but Paul focuses on faith expressing itself through love for reasons that make sense. Love is not an arbitrary rule or test but rather is the essence of the Christian life. Nothing but faith in Jesus and love "count for anything" (Gal 5:6). Paul meant it.

    As I mentioned today, those with faith are saved — they become saved and stay saved as long as they have faith.

    This leaves us to ponder some critical questions — such as baptism and the meaning of obedience and how this might change how we read our Bibles.

    And it tells us that faith is faith in Jesus — not a plan and not a system and not a theology — but a person, in part because you can only trust a person to keep a promise.

    There's more to comel

  25. NPA says:

    "This is getting just a little confusing. We must hear, believe and repent, but are saved by faith. We don’t have faith in a plan, but Jesus who saves us."

    And although its faith in Jesus that saves, you can't be saved without faith in Paul–it really is confusing, isn't it?

    Somehow questioning "the plan" is OK, but questioning Paul is bad. Go figure.

  26. Rich W,

    You wrote "My patience is wearing thin at this point."

    Did your patience give out before the end of Jay's post? His last paragraph says:

    Now, this point inevitably raises two closely related points. The first is obedience. Don’t we have to “obey” to go to heaven? The second is closely connected: Don’t we have to be baptized?

    You complain:

    I have totally lost the point of this series of posts. We only need faith but faith includes… Faith, repentance and confession are there but baptism is missing when a few verses earlier in Romans a whole treatise on the importance of baptism is clear.

    Be patient and let Jay develop his thesis before you excoriate him for being incomplete. Perhaps you will discover that the real meaning of baptism is repentance and faith – as K.C. Moser wrote in The Way of Salvation way back in the 1930's. If you will but do this, you will discover that Paul is correct when he says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works.

    Jerry

  27. Brent says:

    Jay . . . please tell us that you are not fixing to say that baptism really isn't that important. I fear you're about to say that in a round about way. I pray you don't go there.

    I have learned a lot from you. I have learned that God forgives those who don't get it right because they misunderstand. I have learned that if someone doesn't get baptized for the right reason, the God of Mercy knows the heart and forgives them anyway. I believe that. I have been converted!

    But if you tell us that God never really placed any importance on baptism in the first place . . . that we aren't supposed to arise and be baptized and wash away our sins . . . trusting not in our expression of faith, but in God's promises, in Jesus the Christ . . . who stands at the door knocking . . . that we can begin teaching that we don't need baptism . . . I'm going to really be disgusted. I'm just telling you this upfront.

    And the way one teaches that we don't really need to be baptized . . . is by accepting those who say they have faith in Jesus but don't believe they need to be baptized . . . as full brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    You're not fixing to go there . . . are you my friend.

  28. Price says:

    @ NPA…I hope we haven't gotten to the point that we aren't allowed to question everything !! Some in the N.T. were considered more noble for doing that exact thing. Let's never discourage one another from asking questions or seeking support for one's doctrinal belief…It's healthy. If you want to question Paul, then question Paul…I'm sure the Word is capable in the end of making the correct point if we are capable of opening our minds and hearts to its truth.

    @ Brent. You said you were "converted" on a point about baptism…Would you have gotten there if somebody hadn't insisted on "going there" and causing you to question what you previously believed ?? Why in the world would you object or be disappointed if somebody merely expresses an opinion and gives what they believe is scriptural support for their argument? I doubt Jay is going to jump off the theological cliff but if he does we should allow him to do so. It's your responsibility to determine what you belief but I hope you do it based on study rather than digging a theological cave and running into it and hiding. Again, let's allow one another some flexibility here without condemnation. Otherwise, we go back to the "old days" when if you questioned a doctrine you were "cast out" or disparaged just for questioning…That's the defence of the ignorant and controlling and we sure don't need to go back to the dark ages…Let's promote discourse and open dialogue !! I doubt that God will cause anyone's mind to explode just for considering another's point of view.

  29. Rich W says:

    Brent,

    For a preview of where Jay is probably going, check out the church's website where Jay is an elder.
    http://www.universitycofc.org/believe.html

    Baptism isn't associated with salvation. It's purpose is different.

  30. Alabama John says:

    The act of Baptism does nothing by itself. We all go underwater many times while swimming in the river.

    Its the act(s) of obedience that our faith in God will lead us to follow that counts.

    I'm just happy God chose going under water to show that faith and belief and obedience instead of us having to nail a hand or hands to a block of wood or something more extreme to demonstrate that faith and obedience.

    Keep in mind that Paul and others didn't operate off faith, they operated off KNOW as they had seen God and Jesus.
    Our faith will one day take us to KNOW!

  31. Jay Guin says:

    Rich W,

    I believe you've misinterpreted my home congregation's website.

    My views on baptism have been laid out here extensively over the years, but I speak for me only. Of course, my views are evolving as I study more and learn more from the readers.

    Baptism is coming up, but it remains a few posts away.

  32. Rich W says:

    Jay,

    My sincere apologies if I have misinterpreted.

  33. guy says:

    Nick,

    That still presupposes that the NT is meant to be the kind of document that the OT was intended to be. And it presupposes that Luke's purpose in writing was to provide his reader with something akin to an intro-manual. Luke's gospel and Acts seem to have stronger political agendas than prospect-and/or-confirmation-class type agendas.

    Many on this blog are fond of pointing out that the conservatives have mistakenly taken the NT to be some sort of instruction manual. It seems to me that this is a case where such a view of the NT is being assumed by those who would otherwise criticize that view.

    Does God have a history of spelling out requirements? Sure. i concede that. But this discussion assumes He must spell them out *in a certain way*–namely, that they must be found in one passage of at least one NT document. i don't see why we should think so.

    Perhaps they were spelled out quite well in the teachings of the apostles. That doesn't mean they'd necessarily get spelled out in the apostles' writings. In fact, there's good reason to think they didn't need to be spelled out that way since the apostles' writings were largely follow up correspondences.

    Again, we just aren't really in the same situation that a first century person encountering Paul for the first time or being converted by Paul (or whoever) would've been in. So i don't see why we should expect the NT to be constructed as though it does put us or treat us (21st century readers) as though we are in that situation.

    –guy

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