Atonement: In Reply to Price and Guy

I posted two extensive comments in reply to comments of Price and Guy in my most recent post. I’m reposting edited versions of my comments here.

I follow with a couple of reflections.

One of my problems with Reformation era atonement theology is the forced, artificial, radical separation of “justification” from “sanctification.” The Reformers begin by insisting that Christians contribute absolutely nothing to their salvation and then struggle to defend why they should live just and righteous lives.

Indeed, it becomes in just terribly bad taste to speak of the necessity of being “faithful” to Jesus, and yet the Scriptures are filled with such verses as –

(Luk 9:23-24 ESV) 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

(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.

Jesus expresses the atonement in terms of “follow me.” Paul says “repent and turn to God.” Sounds like they expected people to do something to contribute to their own salvation. They call for a choice and a radical commitment to Jesus — not merely getting a bit of doctrine right — but a personal pledge of loyalty to Jesus.

And Paul doesn’t change in Romans and Galatians. He’s not distinguishing between merely having the right position on the Jesus question and works. That’s not his point at all. He’s distinguishing between a heart truly committed to Jesus and mere outward signs that may or may not reflect the heart.

And, as we know, the heart is circumcised by the Spirit and God’s laws are written there. But, as Paul told Agrippa, a penitent (or faithful) heart will reveal itself in works, but not the works of a legalist. No, it will be fruit of the Spirit, beginning in love.

I’ve written several posts in the past where I dispute the notion that “justification” refers uniquely to the moment of initial salvation. We are justified by faith throughout our Christian lives. I am as justified by faith today as I was coming out of the baptistry.

But I refuse to accept the notion — which seems Gnostic to me — that “faith” is merely belief that Jesus is the second-person of the Godhead. Even the demons believe and tremble.

The Churches of Christ — and most others — have long taught the necessity of repentance. It’s a plain teaching in Acts, where the audience is often Jewish and the arguments made in Jewish categories.

Outside of Acts, Paul does not often speak in terms of repentance. Some find a contradiction. But Paul actually says the very same thing in speaking of “faith/faithfulness.”

It’s odd to me that when someone insists on repentance as a requirement to be saved, there’s no accusation of synergism or works salvation. But when the vocabulary shifts to “faithfulness,” suddenly it’s heresy to speak of turning toward God and following Jesus.

  • The gospels tell us to “follow” Jesus. It’s the same concept. To follow Jesus is to be faithful to Jesus.
  • Acts tells us to repent. It’s the same concept. To repent is to be faithful to Jesus.
  • Paul says to have faith. It’s the same concept.


  • Who would suggest that we could follow Jesus without believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God?
  • Who would suggest that we could repent without believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God?
  • Who would suggest that we could have faith without believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God?


  • Who would suggest that we could follow Jesus without committing to live as he commands?
  • And who would suggest that could repent without committing to live as Jesus commands?
  • And how might we have faith in Jesus and yet refuse to commit to live as Jesus commands? You see, faith obviously requires commitment to obey.

Hence, “faithfulness” is a fair translation of “faith” — as suggested by N. T. Wright, Michael Gorman, the translators of the NET Bible, and many others.

And this translation — and perspective — avoids the old Protestant problem of how to preach salvation by faith and yet insist that our members follow Jesus in their lives.

In fact, given how poorly Christians live the Christian life, it just might be that we need to seriously rethink our definitions. The Baptists are undergoing a serious re-evaluation of the sinner’s prayer, not because they think baptism would be better, but because the sinner’s prayer inadequately communications the commitment — faithfulness — demanded by Jesus.

Paul was not saying “We’re saved by having the right position on whether Jesus is the second member of the Godhead, not by living righteously.” That’s not the point at all. That’s Gnostic.

Rather, Paul is saying that we’re saved if we follow Jesus, or repent, or are faithful to Jesus, so that our salvation is marked by our faith (following/repentance/faithfulness) not by our obedience to certain commands that allegedly mark us as true Christians. It’s about our hearts. It’s about having circumcised hearts. It’s about having God’s laws written on our hearts. It’s about possessing the Spirit. It’s about having the love of God poured out into our hearts.

Hence, we err when we make justification merely intellectual (I have the right position on the Jesus issue). It’s much more about the heart (I’ve turned toward Jesus to follow him with all my heart.)

And when Christianity becomes about circumcised hearts, then people change and the Kingdom spreads.

You’ll notice that I’ve not tried to fit any of this into categories created for Reformation era debates. They ask the wrong questions. They begin with a Gnostic premise — that salvation is about believing something to be true and little else. And the gospel repeatedly refuses to be fit into those kinds of categories.

The gospel is not merely about “Jesus is the second member of the Godhead.” Rather, the gospel is about God becoming King through the work of Jesus. It’s about the coming of the kingdom (which is unmistakable in the gospels).

The kingdom is about people repenting and submitting to God, as revealed in Jesus. Submission is, of course, a near synonym for “being faithful to.”

The kingdom is not about people merely understanding that Jesus is the Son of God (in the Nicene Creed sense). It’s much more about people recognizing that Jesus is Lord! King! Ruler of the Universe! And bowing before him, submitting to him to become faithful subjects of the kingdom.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” in terms of Psalm 2, means “You are God’s Anointed King promised by the prophets.” And this confession compels submission and obedience, much more than philosophical rumination on essences and accidents.

To preach the gospel is to preach “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9) — which compels submission to Jesus as King. To believe it is not an exercise in accepting the mystery of the Trinity. It’s to rearrange our worldview to see Jesus as lord and master and ruler — and an utter and complete commitment of our lives to him.

(Mat 16:24-25 ESV) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

I have no idea where that verse fits in the old Reformation-era debates. Nor am I interested to know what percent of Pelagian I might be. I just believe it to be exactly true — and any systematic theology that struggles to find a place for this saying is not a gospel theology.

The Reformers were right to reject the works salvation taught by the Medieval Catholic Church. They were right to preach sola fide (faith only). They were mistaken in defining “faith” in terms of Jesus’ place in the Trinity rather than Jesus’ place in the Kingdom. The New Testament confessions place Jesus on a throne and urge us to submit as his subjects. That is gospel and that is faith.

Do you see what happens when we get the meaning of “faith” right? Suddenly, the Gospels and Epistles line up. Jesus and Paul say the same thing — in very different ways for very different audiences, but the same thing. Both preach salvation through faithfulness to Jesus as Messiah, the King of the Kingdom that came through the cross and resurrection.

Suddenly the kingdom theology of the gospels fits Paul. And Paul’s “saved by faith” fits Jesus.

Moreover, we no longer struggle to explain why Christians must obey even though they’re saved by faith and not works.

On the other hand, there is no comfort here for the legalists. Yes, we must be faithful, follow Jesus, submit, repent, and even obey. Of course. Who’s read the New Testament and found a different result?

But there is nothing in “faithful” that allows us to damn those who disagree with us over instrumental music or fellowship halls. “Faithful” is about the commitment of the heart, not the perfection of the intellect. Indeed, making “faith” about intellectual attainment takes us away from the foremost goal — that we follow Jesus with all our hearts.

And I can follow Jesus with all my heart and be mistaken about instrumental music or fellowship halls. Or circumcision. Or foods sacrificed to idols. And therefore I remain saved and in fellowship despite disagreeing about such things — so long as I show you the same grace I expect from you — that is, provided I judge by the standard by which God judges me: grace through faith in Jesus.

(For you astronomy buffs: Defining “faith” correctly eliminates the epicycles and gives us nice, simple ellipses. The impossibly complex and hard to explain becomes simple. We just have to be willing to put the Son in the middle.)

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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43 Responses to Atonement: In Reply to Price and Guy

  1. laymond says:

    May God bless you Jay with a simple but brighter light. Whether we agree with man’s traditions or not does not matter a whit. That Guilt trip Royce tries to lay on Christians seems to be fading out. “you mean you think Jesus didn’t do enough” I think Jesus did everything he was asked to do, now it is our turn, to do what he asked of us.

  2. Royce Ogle says:

    Fatth is not believing a set of facts about Jesus. Rather it’s believing in Jesus. It is trust, to rely on, dependence, ect. Yet you continue to accuse Reformed Christians of teaching that if a sinner will only believe Jesus is the Son of God he will be justified and any obedience is optional.

    I’m choosing my words carefully… If you can name any well known Calvinists who teach such rubbish I’ll admit to being deceived or stupid. Is it Piper, Sproul, Mohler, Chan, Driscoll? No, not any of these. Who then? You paint a false picture with a broad brush leading your readers who don’t know better to believe what is absolutely untrue.

  3. laymond says:

    Great post Jay, I only wish I had said the same thing, on one of your previous posts. 🙂

    laymond says:
    June 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

  4. Price says:

    Away from computer so I’m having to thumb it. Couple of things in response. How does one know they’ve done their part in the salvation process? In order to live a life in full assurance one must have confidence that they’ve been faithful enough. Perhaps that is why many die in fear. Perhaps it is why they live in fear. Trust in Jesus doesn’t allow for that kind of uncertainty

    Compulsion isn’t the same as love being expressed.

    The splintering of various denominations all had to do with how one measures their faithfulness against another’s. One is saved,, and the other damned ?? Surely we’ve seen this to be an unworkable theology !!

    Sanctification is growth reflected by one’s faith or trust in the Teacher. One can’t be lead by someone they don’t believe in. They can be forced but that isn’t God’s way. Following after is indeed an imperfect outward manifestation of a mustard seed of faith. I would not want to be judged by my imperfect responses If however I learn and grow as any child might then I improve. What dad would disown his child for imperfect performance. What dad would set a standard by which his son Could be disowned and not tell him what that standard is??

    Being saved by grace through faith isn’t a license to be disobedient but Paul made it crystal clear that our salvation “wasn’t of ourselves”. If my salvation by faith requires some measure of acceptable works to demonstrate to the Christian body that I have faith as you say, then Paul was wrong. In fact if my faithfulness determines my salvation then it’s ALL about me. How very wrong Paul was !!

    I’m saved and justified by my faith and trust in Jesus. I’m sanctified by my effort to follow after. I can learn to be a child of God without being disowned. That gives me peace and 100% assurance. I’m not going back to a fear of insufficient performance not having a clue as to what acceptable is. What a horrible way to live and die.

    Your search for “your part” is in sanctification which you have avoided speaking about. Perhaps you might spend some time with the subject to see where your objections to it are. Recommend Wayne grudem’s systematic theology.

    Thumb has given out !! Have a blessed Lord’s Day !!

  5. laymond says:

    Royce, maybe Jay don’t care that you call him a “boldfaced liar” but I take offence to your calling the rest of us stupid. I don’t know where the rules have gone but if they are going to be enforced on one they should be applied to another.

  6. laymond says:

    “What dad would disown his child for imperfect performance.”
    Price you always go to the extremes, if you don’t want to do as Jesus asked, “DONT”. you and only you will see how it turns out.

    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.

    Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

  7. rich constant says:

    YOU (JAY )
    ALSO MIGHT JUST LOOK at how the greek is translated in rom 4 : 16….of the faith of abraham.
    then check out
    how exactly the same phrase is translated in rom.3:26
    that he might be the just and the justifier of the one who is …….of the faith of jesus

    Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commands of God, and the faith of Jesus.

  8. rich constant says:

    the theological problem lies
    in two words
    anthropological: what a man does for his salvation…
    in rom3 :21 Rom 3:21 But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
    Rom 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction;

    what god in Christ did through the Spirit for me….the author and perfecter of faith

    3:21 But now26 apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets)27 has been disclosed – 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ28 for all who believe. For there is no distinction,

    hang in there jay

  9. rich constant says:

    speaks of intrinsic and forensic…
    from god being just and righteous and god being
    faithful to his name merciful and forgiving etc.
    JUST faithful LOVE and holding the guilty accountable
    the curse is the transition from a just holy law of merit by work. to a just holy grace through faithful love(SON). from legal to loving..from condemnation to justification of life through redemption from the dead of his FAITHFULLY righteous son not legally righteous

    the promise… blessing by faith unto life’ gods work.

    so gal.3 and the seed and the faith of the promise

    3:19 Why then was the law given?39 It was added40 because of transgressions,41 until the arrival of the descendant42 to whom the promise had been made. It was administered43 through angels by an intermediary.44 3:20 Now an intermediary is not for one party alone, but God is one.45 3:21 Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God?46 Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.47 3:22 But the scripture imprisoned48 everything and everyone49 under sin so that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness50 of Jesus Christ – to those who believe.

    Sons of God Are Heirs of Promise

    3:23 Now before faith51 came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners52 until the coming faith would be revealed. 3:24 Thus the law had become our guardian53 until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous54 by faith.

  10. aBasnar says:

    I’m choosing my words carefully…

    Royce, when do you use your words carefully? You used the word “legalists” with an equally broad brush in your first comment on this subject. Is this “carefully chosen”?

    If you can name any well known Calvinists who teach such rubbish I’ll admit to being deceived or stupid. Is it Piper, Sproul, Mohler, Chan, Driscoll? No, not any of these.

    But they do teach this “rubbish”, Royce! The point is, the Calvinistic idea says that sanctification comes somehow “automatically”, because Free Will is considered a heresy. So, all who have been elected, will persevere and sanctify themselves. In other words: Those with “genuine faith” (an unbiblical phrase) will live obediently. Why? Because God does this in them – a little more provocoative: God obeys instead of us. More “theologiocally correct” this is called “imputed righteousness”. Let’s hear Mohler himself:

    Justification by faith alone is an evangelical essential… If evangelical means anything, it means a bold assertion that sinners are justified only on the basis of what the Reformers called an alien righteousness – the righteousness of Christ imputed to all who believe in him. [quote from: emphasis mine

    Read carefully: alien righteousness: This rules out any righteous acts we do. This – so the theory (!) – results in holy lives out of “the prompting of the Spirit” and “gratitude”, but in no way is there any connection to our salvation. Such works are in no way meritorious. Because these works have NOTHING to do with our justification, they just “follow”. Even if we are full of sin, but truly born again (which – admittedly – may happen) God looks at us only through Christ and sees nothing but Christ and His righteousness. But that’s not what I read in (e.g.) the letters to the seven churches.

    It is this terrible speration from justification and sanctification, this distinction between faith and faithfulness, that does violence to the Greek word for faith itself. Sorry to say, Royce, but translating from English to German is difficult enough – but Greek to English needs even more consideration. And the Reformers’ “faith only” was a terrible blow against the Gospel in the long run. Why? Because the theory does not work! It never worked! Luther was in dispair that his Gospel did not bring about sanctification – and every critical observer agreed. Calvin brought about “law and order” only by tyranny not by faith (even torturing and burning dissenters at the stake)! It were the Anabaptists with their (so-called) work-salvation approach who produced the fruit of the Kingdom.

    And today? 40% or more of the US citicens claim to be “born again” according to the contemporary Evcangelical Gospel … I just look at them and say: Either the new birth is pointless or the Gospel presentation is wrong.


  11. aBasnar says:

    Or John Piper?

    Again: penal substituation, imputed righteousness (alien righteousness) … And the fruit “follows suit”. And never ever think that this has to do with “works” …

  12. aBasnar says:

    Royce, this guy is telling that his view of penal substition, was sheped by the authors you listed. And he gives valid reasons as to why he left Calvinism and the theory of legal substitution:


  13. laymond says:

    “If you can name any well known Calvinists who teach such rubbish I’ll admit to being deceived or stupid.”
    Royce I hope you didn’t lie to all us stupid people, who should know better.

  14. Royce Ogle says:

    Lol @ Alexander acting offended. Here are my exact words.

    Well, your legalistic friends ought to love this one!

    How is that “broad brush”? If you are not a legalist why the fuss?

    The thing I took issue with most is Anaya assertion that Reformed people consider obedience/faithfulness optional.

    Yes, ten thousand times YES! I say without reservation that men are saved wholly upon the ground of Jesus’ faithfulness and not their own faithfulness. Jesus reconciled us to God in the offering of his own body, where were you?

    If by the gospel I teach religionists are offended, and I am accused of giving liscense to sin them I’m in great company. I wouldn’t sing Jesus paid it all if I didn’t believe it.

    He who has the Son has life. You don’t have life if you aren’t justified. God calls, God justifies, God sanctifies, and God glorifies. Who? Every last one he calls. I read that in my Bible.

  15. aBasnar says:

    “Legalistic friends” is what I meant, Royce. Maybe you wrote it it with a smile on your face, but this I did not see while reading it.

    I wouldn’t sing Jesus paid it all if I didn’t believe it.

    Here is the shortcoming of “penal substitution”. It makes the Gospel-message simply say: “All is paid!” But that’s NOT what the Gospel is about! Forgiveness is a requirement for a greater purpose. Therefore Forgiveness is conditional! Forgiveness can (and will) be taken back, if we don’t go for the purpose we have been forgiven for.

    Therefore “Having the Son” has a meaning much larger that “having once made a decision for Christ”, to which the Gospel-presentation of Evangelicals boils down. Having the Son is an ongoing “holding fast” to the Son, an “abiding in Him” – life is tied to faith, and faith is faithfulness. Therefore the promise is conditional: Hold fast to the end, and you will receive it.

    Think about it: Who has the Son has eternal life – and still all who believed this promise so far have died and still wait for their resurrection. The resurrection now has two aspects: There is a resurrection to life and one to judgment. What is the criteria for you to end up in the resurrection of life? If you have done what is good! Faithfulness, Royce.

    So did Christ pay it all? Yes, He did. But if I believe in Him without living faithfully, the payment does not help me at all. God’s forgiveness will be taken back. I can read that in my Bible, and I am sure it is in yours, too.


  16. aBasnar says:

    Another short question: What is the Rock we need to stand on in order to be saved? (according to Jesus)


  17. Jerry says:

    Royce wrote:

    YES! I say without reservation that men are saved wholly upon the ground of Jesus’ faithfulness and not their own faithfulness.

    Go back and see how Jay defined faithfulness. Didn’t he define it as commitment to Jesus as Lord? Are you suggesting, then, that salvation is by what Jesus has done without our commitment to Him as Lord? I really do not think that is what you meant to say – but it sure sounds like what you said to me.

    Jesus’ faithfulness is the basis of our salvation. But He still said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus was faithful to God. If I follow Him, I will be faithful to God. Will my faithfulness match His? I really do not think it will. Will my faithfulness bring me closer to God? Yes, I believe it will – but it will be the Son as He is lifted up that draws me ever closer to both Father and Son. It will be God working in me as I work out my salvation.

    How will I know that I am saved? How can I live in hope? By trusting Jesus, loving Him because He first loved me, and following Him because I have turned to Him as Lord. Does that “earn” salvation for me? No! A thousand times NO! It simply means that I am attempting to lay hold to that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me. Will I achieve that goal? Paul said he hadn’t – but he kept pressing on. So can I.

  18. Jerry says:

    The Baptists are undergoing a serious re-evaluation of the sinner’s prayer, not because they think baptism would be better, but because the sinner’s prayer inadequately communications the commitment — faithfulness — demanded by Jesus.

    Matt Dabbs yesterday posted about how many, including the Southern Baptists, are reevaluating their commitment to the “sinners prayer” and provides several links to places that are doing just that.

    I commented there:

    Much of what [is being] said about the sinner’s prayer can also be said about the way baptism is frequently presented in our pulpits. We often talk about baptism without including the grand picture of the gospel of Jesus. Baptism, as Paul presents it in Romans 6, is an introduction to a life of discipleship – of death with Jesus to live with Him [in this present life] in resurrection power. Too many times our focus is only on forgiveness of past sins with little talk about our reception of the Holy Spirit and what that means in our life going forward.

    When we cheapen our faith-response to a mere claim of God’s forgiveness, how far are we from those who “save” people by instructing them to repeat the sinner’s prayer? Baptism as a ritual response to the gospel is little different than prayer as a ritual response to the gospel.

  19. Price says:

    Jerry….I’m pretty sure that Royce keeps saying that we are called and instructed to obey…Nobody is arguing that point. I think that we all agree that we should follow after Christ and do our best…We should as a by-product of our faith and trust in Jesus as Lord, walk the talk…no doubt about it…But, when one suggests that we control our salvation by the ability to walk the talk, then I object. That in my personal opinion is anti-Gospel…

    I can find no instruction as to how close I must come to perfection in order to save myself. Therefore, I cannot assume that I am saved if I have nothing to measure myself against other than perfection… And, if I determine my own salvation, then how is Jesus important at all ?? It’s all up to me, right? Or is it half me half Jesus? 60/40 ? Point me to the place I can read of my assurance of salvation based on my behavior and ability…My own faithfulness…. If you can’t do that then we are all hopelessly imprisoned in fear of hell…

    Should I be as faithful as Samson? David? Bathsheba? Rahab? Solomon? What is my standard? Peter? In whom should I place my trust as the proper example?

    I would argue that what I am able to do isn’t even my own ability to do so… Heb 13:20-21 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
    Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    And, Paul’s words to his own ability to be righteous by his works…[8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ [9] and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– – Phl 3:8-9 ESV It seems Paul would attribute righteousness coming from God rather than through his ability to be faithful.

    I’m not buying into some kind of salvation that I earn… Nor, am I accepting that a true saving faith is one whereby I disregard the teachings of God… Neither is correct.. A correct understanding of Sanctification is all that is necessary to reconcile the two… I am saved and stand legally clear (justified) by faith. Paul says that our salvation is “not of our own doing Eph 2:8” I take that to mean that it’s not of my own doing.

    I am sanctified (matured in the Christian walk) by truth. I will not be perfect..I will learn lessons from my mistakes…I will see growth and maturity happen over time (hopefully)… But, my salvation and assurance of eternal life with my Abba Father is never in doubt unless I choose to abandon my faith.. I don’t know a single Christian who God hasn’t been at work in their lives… If you choose God, He will be all up in your life.. He will not be ignored.

    If the sinner’s prayer is somehow used to justify willful disobedience then it is a disgraceful act. If it is used as a public or private confession of a sincere commitment to Jesus as Lord then it is probably a useful pattern for some. I’m not sure how one would know for sure the heart of another brother or sister in Christ so it boggles my mind why someone would choose to bash them in the name of Jesus…

  20. D. Wade says:

    I understand that there is a LARGE number of believers in the world that interpret salvation to mean, “I am trusting solely in the atoning work of Christ upon the cross.” These believers won’t allow for any repentant man or woman to think that he or she can add anything to their being saved through the blood of Christ. There is no “man’s part” needed for salvation…it’s all been done by Christ! But, is that the truth?

    Like the “believers” mentioned, I too think that God’s sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, is solely responsible for our salvation, but nowhere in His inspired word do I see it taught that a person is to place their heart at the foot of the cross, accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus as a free gift of salvation, but then walk away from that point and not put that faith into action through a life of obedience to Christ. This was the very thing that James said in his letter…faith without works is dead!

    But, doesn’t this just continue the arguments that have existed for years? “I don’t obey Christ to achieve my salvation, I do so because of my salvation.” I simply cannot make myself believe that there is one thing that I can do that would equate with (or compliment) what Jesus did on the cross. He, alone, receives ALL the glory. However, if we, (those who believe in Christ as Lord), are truly “God’s workmanship” created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), then we all must yield to God, and allow Him to do His work in us through careful, penitent discipleship…which means we follow and obey Him. Otherwise, our faith is merely imaginary.

  21. Norton says:

    I agree with Jay’s blog. We are saved by faith in Christ so that we will live sanctified lives. If we don’t live sanctfied lives, we don’t really believe in Christ. If we don’t live the way Christ would have us live, how can we say we believe in him?

  22. Price says:

    Norton. I don’t think that’s what Jay’s blog said…I certainly could be wrong but what I understood Jay to say was that we were SAVED by our faithfulness which means that we are SAVED by how well we live. That’s a work’s based theology, at least as I understood him. Jay is more than capable of putting his own words in his own mouth but that’s the impact of saying that we are SAVED by faithFULNESS.

    If it is as YOU say that we are saved to live sanctified lives, I would probably have to disagree as well…I believe we live sanctified lives BECAUSE we are saved. But, even using your understanding it doesn’t agree with Jay’s comments. If we are indeed saved by faith then why would be need to be re-saved by our works? Wasn’t the initial work by Jesus sufficient to save us? I don’t mean to suggest that one can’t rebel against God and choose to live their lives in total rebellion and walk away from their salvation. (Paul even says that we can go back to a works based religion and walk away from Grace !!) But, that is a far cry from one who is imperfect, and no one makes that argument except those that want to argue against it !! But, if Grace means anything at all then why are we measured by our works and more importantly, against what standard are we measured? How are we to know if we “made it?” How good is good enough?

    I think perhaps Jay tries to connect our faithfulness to our faith in a way that the Bible doesn’t do. In fact the scriptures set apart works from faith in no uncertain terms. James says that WE can know a person’s faith by his works…That is for US to see, not God. God already knows. He isn’t suddenly surprised….But, WE don’t save anybody. We just protect our religious community from wolves in sheep’s clothing. WE NEED to see and yet even when we do or don’t we often times assume and/or judge incorrectly. Good thing we aren’t in charge of salvation !! Yes, true saving faith has a result just as a car that is running produces exhaust. But, because a car isn’t running doesn’t make it an elephant. It’s a car that needs a new battery or more gas..It’s a brother or sister who has lost a parent, or who has an illness that will take them away from their children who is angry at God … It’s a brother or sister who has been kicked out of a church because they didn’t understand their baptism was flawed. Or who tithed to a children’s home…It’s a child of God that God will love on and help them through the storm because He has promised never to leave or forsake them… It’s not at all condemnation because they haven’t measured up to someone’s concept of performance…or faithfulness…

    But, if Jay is right…someone PLEASE tell me how faithful I must be in order to be fully convinced of my salvation…PLEASE…

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price wrote,

    what I understood Jay to say was that we were SAVED by our faithfulness which means that we are SAVED by how well we live.

    Pretty sure that in the dozens of posts I’ve written arguing that “faith” includes the idea of faithfulness, I’ve worked within the text as written — merely arguing to change the translation of the word — not to ignore Paul.

    We are, of course, saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). Our faithfulness does not merit our salvation any more than our faith merits salvation.

    And yet God chooses to grant his salvation — by his grace — solely to those with faith/faithfulness. Only those who submit to the King enter the Kingdom, but their submission does not EARN the Kingdom.

    To equate faithfulness with works means, I suppose, that we must also remove repentance as a condition to salvation. And doesn’t confessing Jesus as Lord imply submission (=faithfulness) to Jesus?

    So how do we rescue repentance as a requirement to be saved? Well, repentance doesn’t insist on particular works or a particular level of penitence. But, then, neither does faithfulness.

    In fact, I’ve explicitly said that I consider repentance, faithfulness, submission to Jesus as Lord, and following Jesus to all be virtual synonyms. Are we to insist that we shouldn’t tell a convert to follow Jesus until after he’s baptized based on “faith”? Don’t we actually expect converts to commit to follow Jesus before baptism? Would it be heresy to ask someone whether their confession — that Jesus is Lord — includes a commitment to follow Jesus?

    Is this what Paul condemns when he condemns seeking salvation by works of the law?

    You see, I’ve taught for at least 20 years that our repentance is one of several reasons that we do good works after we’re saved. And I see little distinction between repentance and faithfulness. They are not identical — faithfulness is the product of repentance — but they necessarily co-exist. If you’ve repented, you are faithful. If you are faithful to Jesus, then you’ve repented.

  24. laymond says:

    Price, I believe James tells us just how faithful we need to be.

    Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    Jam 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    Jam 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    Jam 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    We don’t see the following example as necessary as that of Abraham, but it is just as necessary, because it is a command from God, and God gives no commands that are not necessary. We are not commanded to only obey “the big ticket commands”
    Jam 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    Jam 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?
    Jam 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    Jam 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
    Jam 2:14 ¶ What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    If you think this is nonsense read Matthew 25 again.

  25. rey says:

    “For you astronomy buffs: Defining ‘faith’ correctly eliminates the epicycles and gives us nice, simple ellipses.”

    I like that!

    One obvious point I would make is concerning the passage from OT that Paul quotes “The just shall live by faith.” Certainly it is without a doubt that the true meaning of this passage is basically “The just shall be faithful to their faith.” That’s what “live by faith” means, i.e. to live out or be faithful to their faith. In fact, the ESV has a footnote suggesting that Habakkuk 2:4 could even be translated “but the righteous shall live by his faithfulness.”

  26. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    David Platt, author of Radical, and a very prominent Baptist pastor wrote,

    Do I believe it is “wrong” for someone to pray a “prayer of salvation”? Certainly not. Calling out to God in prayer with repentant faith is fundamental to being saved (Romans 10:9-10). Yet as I pastor a local church and serve alongside pastors of other local churches, I sense reasonably serious concern about the relatively large number of baptisms in our churches that are “re-baptisms”—often representing people who thought they were saved because they prayed a certain prayer, but they lacked a biblical understanding of salvation and were in reality not saved. This, in addition to a rampant easy believism that marks cultural Christianity in our context (and in other parts of the world), leads me to urge us, as we go to all people among all nations with the good news of God’s love, to be both evangelistically zealous and biblically clear at the same time (Matthew 28:18-20).

    The Calvinist president of Exodus International argues that you can live a life of sin and remain saved —

    Chambers said, “I do believe they (people living an active gay Christian life) will be in heaven with me … if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    During the Gay Christian Network conference in January, the Exodus president again stated his belief that homosexually active Christians would be in heaven. And most recently, he made similar comments to The Atlantic in June.

    “Some of us choose very different lives than others. But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God,” Chambers told The Atlantic.

    When asked if a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, he responded, “My personal belief is that … while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.

    There are, of course, many Calvinists who disagree. Most do. But this man is in a very prominent position.

    I would add the countless Church of Christ baptisms resulting from a fear of hell or a desire to please parents but with no commitment to Jesus. Many Church of Christ members have been re-baptized to submit to Jesus as Lord because they had no concept of that idea when they were first immersed.

    The problem of easy believism is not unique to Calvinism. It’s found in nearly all religions with roots in the Reformation because most Protestant denominations have emphasized getting saved to the near exclusion of following Jesus.

    The point isn’t that the great theologians teach that grace allows sinners to go to heaven. They don’t.

    But the churches are filled with people who live deeply sinful lives and feel saved by their “faith” in Jesus. After all, they really do believe that Jesus is part of the Godhead, divine, and part of the Triune God. They are quite sincere in this. And they trust Jesus for their salvation. But they aren’t faithful.

    Nearly all of Protestantism has radically separated justification from sanctification in practice, as we preach what Scot McKnight calls a “soterian gospel,” that is, a gospel that speaks solely to how to get saved and little about who we’re saved to become. And that follows from an atonement model in which the cross only addresses forgiveness. It’s a serious problem.

  27. Jerry says:


    I agree with you that I do not believe Royce meant to say what I took his words to seem to mean (if that makes any sense!). I know that Royce practices and teaches obedience to God.

    However, when you said:

    when one suggests that we control our salvation by the ability to walk the talk, then I object. That in my personal opinion is anti-Gospel…

    I think this misrepresents what Jay said – and I know it is not my understanding. Salvation is not merely external; it is also internal. In fact, just after Paul’s great hymn of praise of Jesus’ emptying Himself of equality with God to become a man – and not merely a man, but a servant among men who was obedient even to death – just after this Paul continued with a “therefore.” That is, in consequence of the great emptying and exaltation of Jesus to His glory, here is what follows:

    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

    Because of what Jesus has done, we are to work out our salvation as God works in us. But what does God work in us? Paul says God works in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

    If I understand what you are maintaining, that is also that for which I contend. I also believe that is essentially what Jay has maintained over and over. It is a matter of the heart, which is where God “works in us” so that we can work out our salvation.

    I believe that our difference is a matter of semantics more than of real concepts.

    As I understand what you (and Royce) are saying is that salvation is an event. I see it as a process – a process begun in eternity before creation, for Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. It is in our present as we come to trustingly turn to Jesus as Lord and King. It is in our future when we will see Him as he is – and be “like Him” for having that glorious vision.

    I did not begin to leave the ranks of legalism until one passage hit me right between the eyes:

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

    What struck me was that grace teaches us to renounce ungodly behavior to actually live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives now. It does not say that grace teaches us we ought to live pure lives; it says grace teaches us to actually live such lives. Law says what we “ought” to do; grace teaches “how” to do it. Of course, this involves a learning process – and demands continued faith in the teacher, who is the Christ through the Holy Spirit within us.

    This view of “salvation” encompasses both forgiveness of sins and sanctification plus glorification when the Lord returns. Forgiveness, maintenance (cf. 1 John 1:7), growth, and glory are all part of the process encompassed in “salvation.” By taking this broader view of “salvation,” I see no conflicts – and I see salvation as God’s gift worked in us through faith, not through our accomplishments. But this “faith” is also faithfulness – not in the sense of faithfully obeying every jot and tittle of the law, but in the sense of faithfully adoring the King and being loyal to Him in our hearts.

    And by the way, nothing that I said was intended to “bash” those who practice “the sinner’s prayer.” If you will check, you will see that I said that much of how we present the necessity of baptism has at least some of the same weaknesses as the way the faith-response of the “sinner’s prayer.” In other words, I was adapting the criticisms levied against the sinners prayer (by some in groups that use that prayer) to criticism of how the churches of Christ have often presented baptism. I see baptism as a participation in the saving events of the gospel – i.e., crucifixion, burial, and resurrection to new life in Christ. When baptism is preached with little to no mention of the broad scope of salvation as I outlined it above, it is at best an inadequate presentation of the good news. At worst, it becomes a perversion of the gospel.

  28. Royce Ogle says:

    Wade and Jay, I agree. Easy believism is always wrong. And of course everyone who would follow Jesus will be expected to execute the disciplines of discipleship. Never have I ever campaigned for believers to be lazy and not do works that fit repentant people. I’m actually very puzzled that again and again some here write as if that’s the case. Here, I’ll say it a different way.

    One discipline expected of a follower of Jesus is prayer. Some of us will do better than others in being faithful to pray. (I battle in this area..) But all of us who are His own ought to pray. Let’s assume brother X prays exactly as he ought. Is his praying meritorious or salvic? Or does he pray because he is saved and of duty and loving obedience? I see prayer and every act of obedience as the natural work of a love slave of Jesus, not the acts of someone who hopes God takes notice and at least partially saves them because of it. That’s the difference as I see it.

  29. BeABerean says:

    Saul who later became Paul was very faithful to God and His Laws. Saul’s life was to live out obedience to God’s Laws. Why did Jesus need to visit Saul, what was it that Saul needed to see?

  30. laymond says:

    OK Royce lets say you are right, Christians will be Judged on their faith in Christ. I have read many times, where you say that you will not be saved by your works but by your faith. and you won’t be judged because you are already saved.
    Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
    Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
    Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
    Who is it that will be judged by their works.? Is there going to be others beside Christians.

  31. aBasnar says:

    But, if Jay is right…someone PLEASE tell me how faithful I must be in order to be fully convinced of my salvation…PLEASE…

    We are three colleagues in our production. Each of them is faithful, yet their abilities, their experience and even their efforts vary. Yet, because they are loyal and do their job, they will remain in the company and develop their skills. Faithfulness is the attitude that prompts us to work, it’s not the works themselves. If they deliberately come late, produce low quality, speak bad about the company or the like, they will lose their job. It’s the same in the Kingdom. We don#t have to be perfect (and won’t ever be perfect) though we strive for perfection, because we are loyal and faithful to Christ. If we stop, if we become disloyal or develop a divided heart, our standing in Christ will be shaky and we might fall from Grace.

    You can be divided as a Christian, which is a serious problem. God wants us to have undivided hearts. So the call is: Be loyal, be faithful to God which equals: Believe. Being saved by faithfulness therefore is a better definition of salvation by faith, because it does not see works as a “by product” of faith (as you called it), but as the nature of faith. Works don’t follow faith, faith works.

    Therefore it is not possible to say: I am saved apart from my works. Paul used such words ONLY in regard to the Old Testament Law. But when we repent from our ungodly ways we committ to a obedient lifestyle – that obedience, works are the expression of faith from the very beginning. You cannot make a distinction.

    Protestants – not only you, but in general – have changed the meaning of faith in order to enhance the contrast to works as they (mis)understood them. The result is a theology full of shortcomings and misunderstandings. And the question you present regularly: “How perfect, how faithful do I have to be?” shows this “crippled” understanding of faith. A faith, whose hands and feet have been cut off. Your solution: Since I cannot be perfect, my salvation cannot depend on anything I do. But does your imperfectness mean, you cannot be loyal? My colleagues and I live with imperfect loyalty on a daily basis and produce some great results for our company.


  32. BeABerean says:

    Why was the Law given in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)?

  33. rich constant says:

    i hope this answer is simple enough.
    just putting together paul and the revelation given to him by Christ
    also the main difference between the old cov. and the trinity’S work of deliverance from sin ,death ,and the.curse of the law by CHRIST’S faithfulness to the will of god .

    16:2520 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, 16:26 but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen

    try getting what Paul is saying here. remember Paul and Jesus were both born under gods old cov
    net bible
    2:15 We are Jews by birth47 and not Gentile sinners,48 2:16 yet we know49 that no one50 is justified by the works of the law51 but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. 52 And53 we have come to believe in Christ Jesus,
    so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ54 and not by the works of the law,
    because by the works of the law no one55 will be justified.
    2:17 But if while seeking to be justified in Christ we ourselves have also been found to be sinners, is Christ then one who encourages56 sin? Absolutely not! 2:18 But if I build up again those things I once destroyed,57 I demonstrate that I am one who breaks God’s law.58 2:19 For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ,59 and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
    So the life I now live in the body,61 I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God,62 who loved me and gave himself for me.

    2:21 I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

    net bible
    3:9 and to enlighten21 everyone about God’s secret plan22 – a secret that has been hidden for ages23 in God24 who has created all things. 3:10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that25 through the church the multifaceted wisdom26 of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. 3:11

    This was according to27 the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access28 to God29 because of30 Christ’s faithfulness.

    phil.3:8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung!10 – that I may gain Christ, 3:9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law,

    but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness11 – a righteousness from God that is in fact12 based on Christ’s13 faithfulness.14

    3:10 My aim is to know him,15 to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings,16 and to be like him in his death, 3:11 and so, somehow,17 to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

    3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under22 the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him23 by the works of the law,24 for through the law comes25 the knowledge of sin.

  34. rich constant says:

    if say i bring a v.w. to church and get it baptized bring it every Sunday to church,throw some bread and wine in it….. well ya know some people are just not as faithful as that v dub

    sorry just couldn’t help it 🙂

  35. Price says:

    Laymond…Abraham was justified before Isaac was born…Who “un-justified” him so that God would have to do it again? James isn’t talking about God’s justification but an outward justification before men… Or, I assume I must offer my son as a sacrifice? Probably not.

  36. Price says:

    Jay…Gal 2:16 “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

    I think Paul clearly separates faithfulness from faith… If I read this correctly, faithfulness is clearly deficient to faith in obtaining justification/salvation.

    I agree that living out one’s faith (as best as they can) is important and a test of one’s faith, but it is not at all the same as being saved. It is a sanctification process which isn’t the same as salvation or justification…Sanctification is an ongoing process of learning and maturing while maintaining one’s position as heir to the Kingdom.

    As a part of the process of sanctification, all instructions teach us. We make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. But, when we make mistakes or throw a temper tantrum, we are not disowned.. That’s the relationship a Father has with a son/daughter that He loves. He can teach us and put up with our sinful tendencies because of His Grace accepted by our faith and trust in Him has saved us…

    I see that much differently from being saved by my ability to perform.. My trust is in Him alone. If I count on my own personal faithfulness then I must trust my own ability. That may be the reason so many people live in fear…?? Realizing of course that they will never be good enough…whatever that means..

  37. Royce Ogle says:

    John 5:24
    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

    John 6:40
    For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    John 6:47
    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

    John 6:54
    Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

    John 10:28
    I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

    John 17:3
    And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

  38. guy says:


    You wrote:
    “But the churches are filled with people who live deeply sinful lives and feel saved by their “faith” in Jesus.”

    i think more than this, there are even people who subscribe to reformation-era understandings of atonement and faith who still sweat it all the time about whether they will “make it” or not. i can always wonder whether or not my level of subsequent good deeds sufficiently proves that my faith was genuine or that God truly worked in me or that i’m one of the elect or whatever–it certainly had that kind of effect on me.

    But i don’t think these issues result solely or even mainly from a poor definition of “faith,” but rather several underlying concepts. One’s understanding of the atonement will necessarily reflect an understanding of the character and nature of God. If i conceptualize God as anything even close to what Jonathan Edwards describes in ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ and take that idea seriously, then regardless of how securely the idea of assurance is systemically built in to my religion, i probably won’t be able to shake manifestations of the feeling that i’m constantly on trial or teetering over the edge of the abyss. Perhaps a conception related to that of Edwards is of God as a judge (in the legally robust sense of the word) who is bent on exacting out the precise retribution and restitution owed to Him by creation.

    But more that definitions of “faith” and conceptions of God’s character, there is also an understanding of “salvation” and the nature of what occurred in the Fall (including the nature of spiritual death). Even among diverse religious groups, those with Reformation-era roots still presuppose that these ideas are punctiliar and categorical in the nature of the case. “Dead” is something you are or aren’t. “Saved” is something you are or aren’t. “Justified” is something you are or aren’t. “Lost” is something you are or aren’t. These terms identify a status–they describe a *static* condition.

    And *if* one presupposes the juridical and legal framework common to the Reformation debates, then that sort of conception makes good sense. But, as you said before, while the Reformers were right to criticize Catholic corruption, their ‘reforming’ really didn’t go far enough. They still basically accepted the same juridical presuppositions of their Catholic contemporaries. But if you jettison that juridical interpretive scheme altogether, and instead conceptualize these various theological terms organically, referring to processes rather than statuses, i think a lot of the concerns people are here raising simply don’t occur in the first place.


  39. rey says:

    @Price “Abraham was justified before Isaac was born…Who ‘un-justified’ him so that God would have to do it again?

    Obviously justification is not a one-time static event. Even Paul himself speaks of both past and future justification.

  40. rey says:

    @guy “Perhaps a conception related to that of Edwards is of God as a judge (in the legally robust sense of the word) who is bent on exacting out the precise retribution and restitution owed to Him by creation.”

    That concept should rather give comfort than fear, for “the precise retribution” in any rational sense is only proportional punishment. When Paul says in (I think 2 Cor 5:10) that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in our body, whether good or bad, what can that means but a PROPORTIONAL punishment? The fuel of easy believism is the concept of all or nothing damnation/salvation. If, however, one can be saved from eternity in hell and still be punished with a temporal punishment proportional to their sins, then the whole concept of easy beleivism falls apart. The fear that forces people to create easy beleivism to defend themselves from an inescapable eternal torment subsides, because they find they are in fact not facing eternal damnation but temporal punishment. In fact, prior to the Reformation, I suppose purgatory was the explanation of 2 Cor 5:10 and is the reason why people didn’t run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to thing down faith to the most minimal of standards to save themselves from the fear of hell — they beleived they could be saved and yet face a temporal punishment between death and entrance to heaven. And although the Bible doesn’t use the word ‘purgatory’ or explain exactly what Paul means in 2 Cor 5:10, the fact that it means there will be temporal punishments even for the saved (we must all appear…) demonstrates that Protestantism’s attack on the concept of purgatory was short sighted and is itself the cause of all our problems today with easy beleivism vs faithfulness. If only we still believed that the saved can be punished rather than all or nothing salvation/damnations. Calvinists love to talk about ‘historic Christianity’ and claim the Arminians and semi-Pelagians have rejected it — but who has rejected historic Christianity more than the Calvinists who deny a major premise of what has always been beleived by Christians, namely a proportional punishment of the sins commited by the saved per 2 Cor 5:10???

  41. Norton says:

    I did not come to the site yesterday, so I was not ignoring your questions to me. Jay has already answered better than I could, but I will say a few words. There is probably not much difference in our thinking on the question, and I agree with you that not many teachers in the Reformed tradition, would say that obedience is optional. However; I think Jay’s interpretation of faith, in many passages of the Bible, as faithfulness rings true. I would define faithfulness as loyalty to, empathy with, fidelity to, care for, and even taking on the idenity of another, such as one would have in their relationship with their spouse. It would mainly be a state of mind, but one’s state of mind will surely show up in one’s actions. I am not referring to just sexual fidelity, but all areas of the marriage relationship. How faithful do I have to be to not get thrown out? I have not been thrown out yet, so I don’t know.

  42. BeABerean says:

  43. Doug says:

    I am soooo… glad that I have had other committments and missed out on this latest episode of faith vs. works. We keep talking about the same thing fellows (and ladies) and we seem to get no closer to each other. Maybe the problem is that while we all agree that faithfulness is necessary in a Christians life, the CofC and indeed, the whole restoration movement has in the past made a de facto declaration of what that faithfulness looks like. You know, thou shalt attend worship services 3 times a week, thou shalt not smoke or drink, thou shalt appear respectable at all times, thou shalt not sing accompanied by instuments,…. The unwritten rules of faithfulness were there to be seen by all of us and you know what? We all realized that this wasn’t faithfulness at all. Now we are in the desert wandering looking for something to replace our old unwritten rules. I think we’ll eventually get out of this desert of our own making but it’ll take a little time. In the meantime, we wander and wander…

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