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Contradiction Of Salvation By Grace


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Guest ikant

Paul says that "you are saved by grace... not by works." If this is true, one must ask the question, "what must I do to be saved?" This question was answered by the disciples in acts when they said "believe in the Lord Jesus." This does not answer the question but speaks around it. Basically it is saying, "become a Christian." This still leaves us with the question of what one must do to be saved, which causes us thus to ask, what one must do to believe. Kierkegaard said that we must take a leap of faith. Pasqual said that we must act as if we believe and we will begin to truly believe. Both responses fall short in my opinion as they never really answer the sceptic. If salvation depends on our believing, not our works, then what is it that makes one person believe and another not? Is it naivety? virtue? fear? If belief is contingent upon any quality that we poses, such as these, then what does that mean in relation to salvation apart from works? Theologians tend to separate moral qualities with moral actions, but James does not and has been a controversial figure ever since he wrote, "faith with works is dead." So, James believes that a genuine faith will produce good works. This has been interpreted as works coming from being filled with the holy spirit, but again, this is merely talking around the essence of belief.

Again we are brought back to the question of what it is to be saved. For the Calvinist the answer is simple; God chose you. For people who believe in free will and a God who chooses everyone, we can only come to the conclusion that something within that person desires, of their own free will, to choose god. So, if we choose God, without being born again, without the holy spirit, we are doing something (works). To choose is to do something. To believe is to do something.

Ultimately, people become Christians because of something within them. The Old Testament does not have a problem with this view; it has been altered in the New. The O.T. frequently refers to the "righteous" and the "wicked". Jesus in fact calls a man "good" or "evil".

If it is not true that people are either good or evil, then what is it that makes us so? If we are only evil, did we make ourselves this way? If we are good, then we do not need salvation. Paul says that we are not to question the designer because we are just "lumps of clay." This view simply relieves God of all culpability; something which many do all to easily. If no view of God can be questioned, then all must be embraced.

If we question "God's justice" we find the same difficulties within that model as we do in any model of justice. That is of being arbitrary.

Let us assume we are all justly condemned. If this is so, then we are back at the point of wondering how to be saved. Many other questions can be introduced to show the absurdity of the situation. There is no answer to this question except the obvious, we make choices, good or bad, based on what we know and who we are.

The whole idea that we can be saved without doing anything only works in a Calvinist model, but Calvinism itself falls short in that it claims that God only desires to save some.

Salvation by grace alone is an innately flawed and contradictory concept that can only be believed. Arguments for this view rely on bad logic and weak metaphors. Either God saves you against your will (Calvinism) or you decide to be saved on your own (works). There is no other realm other that belief that these arguments can hold true.

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Welcome to the forums Ikant.

 

Good job of laying out the most confusing part of Christianity -- ever.

 

Seems we have so many denominations because Christians can't agree on what it takes to be saved and exactly how that is accomplished. Then after that, how can you be sure you are saved? No agreement.

 

How can a person who thinks about this issue not be confused and worried? Worried, that is, if they are a Christian.

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I remember in an evangelism class (back when I was in Bible college) the professor asking the students (which mostly consisted of people that were 18 to 21 years of age) to tell him what a person needed to do to be saved. Each person gave an answer. Some said, "Believe." To which he would ask, "Believe what?" and on and on it went. After several minutes of this the board was filled with stuff that a lost sinner needed to do to be saved. Then the teacher asked us how we could reconcile that with Ephesians 2:8-9:

 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

The class fell silent, realizing we had fallen into his trap. We found it difficult to reconcile the various Bible details of what must be done with the Bible's insistence that nothing was to be done in order to be saved.

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Good post ikant; I've used a similar argument myself. Most fundagelicals I've come across on the interwebs are Arminian, or "Calv-arminin". I always ask if the "saved" have a certain something that unbelievers don't, a certain virtue, wisdom, etc. Never get a clear answer, only the reassertion that "everyone has a choice".

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We found it difficult to reconcile the various Bible details of what must be done with the Bible's insistence that nothing was to be done in order to be saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn't say you need not to do anything; it explains what grace is.

What God has done in Christ is seen as a still-effective deliverance, liberation, or rescue from their previous state and one that is provided freely, as a gift, for undeserving rebel subjects. With grace as its ground and faith as its means, this salvation can have nothing to do with any notion of merit. That it is "by grace" means that it has not originated from a human source but comes from God as a gift. That it is "by faith" means the exclusion of human effort and, therefore, of any pride or boasting in the presence of God. The writer wants his readers to be absolutely clear that it is God, and not humans, who is to be given the credit for salvation, and that means the whole of salvation, including believers’ good works. The notion of "the self-made man" is totally out of place in such a perspective on Christian existence. (Andrew Lincoln,
Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 42: Ephesians
)

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Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn't say you need not to do anything; it explains what grace is.

What God has done in Christ is seen as a still-effective deliverance, liberation, or rescue from their previous state and one that is provided freely, as a gift, for undeserving rebel subjects. With grace as its ground and faith as its means, this salvation can have nothing to do with any notion of merit. That it is "by grace" means that it has not originated from a human source but comes from God as a gift. That it is "by faith" means the exclusion of human effort and, therefore, of any pride or boasting in the presence of God. The writer wants his readers to be absolutely clear that it is God, and not humans, who is to be given the credit for salvation, and that means the whole of salvation, including believers’ good works.

 

Agreed, it explains "grace." Or, it attempts to explain grace.

 

In fact, you need to believe. I suppose God turns your mind that way or something (the gift). I only know I can't do it, and I think its a very questionable sort of gift.

 

Personally, I think the idea of "salvation" having nothing to do with any notion of merit or good works is an immoral sort of salvation. The above passage was probably written by a Protestant. I think there is a kind of salvation, in the sense of a transformation of human consciousness, but it has nothing to do with this Christian concept.

 

I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.

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In fact, you need to believe. I suppose God turns your mind that way or something (the gift). I only know I can't do it, and I think its a very questionable sort of gift.

Salvation, as a whole, is the gift of God; faith means abandoning any attempts to justify oneself and accepting what God has done in Christ. In Mark 2:17 Jesus says, "Those who are healthy don't need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me." (NIRV)

 

Personally, I think the idea of "salvation" having nothing to do with any notion of merit or good works is an immoral sort of salvation.

I believe in God who will judge the Church, his people, also, not only those "bad unbelievers."

 

I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.

Yeap, me too.

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We found it difficult to reconcile the various Bible details of what must be done with the Bible's insistence that nothing was to be done in order to be saved.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn't say you need not to do anything; it explains what grace is.

 

That was the point of my post. Everyone was listing what they thought the Bible said needed to be done to be saved, but Ephesians 2:8-9 states that nothing needed to be done.

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Salvation, as a whole, is the gift of God; faith means abandoning any attempts to justify oneself and accepting what God has done in Christ. In Mark 2:17 Jesus says, "Those who are healthy don't need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me." (NIRV)

 

It requires faith in order to get to the point where a person would think this statement has any truth to it. There are many questionable terms in it - "sinners" "right with God" and so forth.

 

I believe in God who will judge the Church, his people, also, not only those "bad unbelievers."

 

Most Christians do, but the severity of the judgment is a little disproportionate, isn't it?

 

I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.
Yeap, me too.

 

So I take it you reject the concept of original sin.

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We found it difficult to reconcile the various Bible details of what must be done with the Bible's insistence that nothing was to be done in order to be saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn't say you need not to do anything; it explains what grace is.

What God has done in Christ is seen as a still-effective deliverance, liberation, or rescue from their previous state and one that is provided freely, as a gift, for undeserving rebel subjects. With grace as its ground and faith as its means, this salvation can have nothing to do with any notion of merit. That it is "by grace" means that it has not originated from a human source but comes from God as a gift. That it is "by faith" means the exclusion of human effort and, therefore, of any pride or boasting in the presence of God. The writer wants his readers to be absolutely clear that it is God, and not humans, who is to be given the credit for salvation, and that means the whole of salvation, including believers’ good works. The notion of "the self-made man" is totally out of place in such a perspective on Christian existence. (Andrew Lincoln,
Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 42: Ephesians
)

 

The gift isn't free, it requires human works in order for salvation to be granted.

If the human doesn't take specific affirmative actions, they don't get saved.

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Guest ikant

I really need to work harder on proof reading. Anyway, thanks for the replies. As for the christians who dont get my argument, it is simple. If you believe, then there is something about you that makes you do so. This can be your own personal "righteousness", or desire to be saved, or feelings of need for god, salvation, etc.... These things are out of our control, they simply happen to us. Unbelievers typically do not have these types of feelings, either that or we have seen the deep flaws in them thus making it impossible to believe. Rationalizing these inconsistancy reveals a weakness of character in the believer that coincides with the ability of the believer to rationalize any type of logical and moral inconsistency. Either way, a christian CAN believe, and a non christian CAN NOT. So, the simple answer is that salvation by grace is non sequitor. At the end of the day, the believer, if anyone, needs to be saved from their belief.

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As for the christians who dont get my argument, it is simple. If you believe, then there is something about you that makes you do so. This can be your own personal "righteousness", or desire to be saved, or feelings of need for god, salvation, etc.... These things are out of our control, they simply happen to us.

 

Yes, there are certainly things outside of a person's control that could cause them to either accept or reject the salvation being offered. For example, if someone is born severely retarded, where they cannot reason even in the simplest terms, then it would be impossible for them to hear, understand and accept the Gospel, which the Bible says is required in order to be saved. So the fact that they are born with the inability to understand would mean that the Gospel is beyond them. Of course, Christians come up with excuses for the severely mentally retarded and leave their eternal fate in the hands of a supposed all-knowing, all-merciful god who will certainly do right by these folks in the end.

 

I know you are talking about other things here, but I just wanted to point this out. It seems obvious, from a biblical perspective, that some doing is necessary in order to be saved (even believing is a verb ... an action and, thus, work) and some people are just not capable of believing. Thus, it is beyond some people.

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Guest end3
I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.

 

Ms. D,

 

I think your premise for rejection is wrong. I think you are limiting God's perspective to yours.

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I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.

 

Ms. D,

 

I think your premise for rejection is wrong. I think you are limiting God's perspective to yours.

 

I think DevaLight nailed it.

 

I've heard (and made) all the arguments about how we can't know God's mind and can't put God in a box. I've heard (and made) the argument that God reveals enough of his will and ways through scripture to put us on the right path. Well, I beg to differ. Every glimpse we get of his perspective is different. In Genesis, he's a grouchy tribal god, who loathes his own creation except a few who are "righteous" in ways never explained in detail. In Exodus-Joshua-Judges, he's a grouchy, irritable parental-figure who still loathes most of his chosen people and just abandons them when they stray. In the histories (Samuel-Chronicles) he punishes innocent people for the private sins of a few kings and leaders and rarely intervenes when the Bronze Age powers start showing up and kicking the crap out of his "beloved." In the prophets, he's all bluster. Interestingly, in Daniel, he sees human civilizations like wild animals fighting among themselves. Seems kind of disinterested. And in the gospels and Paul's letters, now all of a sudden he's a loving father? Who gives his own son up for death, so that he can speak for us so he doesn't have to look at us, only the Jesus within us because that's the only thing he can tolerate? And sends the never-before-seen holy spirit to live in us and do his will through us? Weird stuff. Sounds kind of...like a wacky cult.

 

I think DL sums it up quite succinctly with "undeserving rebel subject."

 

My personal sum-up of YHWH according to the Old Testament is "weekend dad."

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That was the point of my post. Everyone was listing what they thought the Bible said needed to be done to be saved, but Ephesians 2:8-9 states that nothing needed to be done.

You missed my point. Eph 2 does not states "that nothing needed to be done." In fact, as DevaLight pointed out, it says one must believe. "God's act of grace is the ground of salvation and faith is the means by which it becomes effective in a person's life." (Andrew Lincoln)

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I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.

 

Ms. D,

 

I think your premise for rejection is wrong. I think you are limiting God's perspective to yours.

 

End3, it is not my premise. I simply quoted part of the Andrew Lincoln passage from Badger's post #6, which says:

 

What God has done in Christ is seen as a still-effective deliverance, liberation, or rescue from their previous state and one that is provided freely, as a gift, for undeserving rebel subjects
.

 

I think the part about "provided freely as a gift" is questionable, but the bolded part is accurate as to what is taught in the Bible. It is an accurate restatement of many verses in the Bible.

 

We are talking solely about God as presented in the Bible. If you think that the Bible does not state "God's perspective", then as far as I am concerned, you are not a Christian. If you are interested in discussing other God concepts, fine, but that is off topic for this thread.

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Most Christians do, but the severity of the judgment is a little disproportionate, isn't it?

Actually I'm not sure what kind of judgment it will be for both, Christians and non-Christians. The NT however says in many places that we all will be judged by our works.

 

So I take it you reject the concept of original sin.

Yes, I reject Catholic/Lutheran concept of original sin.

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The gift isn't free, it requires human works in order for salvation to be granted.

If the human doesn't take specific affirmative actions, they don't get saved.

That it requires human "works" (i.e. you accept and believe what God has done in Christ), doesn't mean the gift isn't free.

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Most Christians do, but the severity of the judgment is a little disproportionate, isn't it?

Actually I'm not sure what kind of judgment it will be for both, Christians and non-Christians. The NT however says in many places that we all will be judged by our works.

 

So I take it you reject the concept of original sin.

Yes, I reject Catholic/Lutheran concept of original sin.

 

Yes, their works are judged, but elsewhere the NT also clearly says those that do not believe are damned. I can think of a couple verses that say that and in Revelation the unbelievers are consigned to the lake of fire along with all the others who do evil deeds.

 

If you reject original sin, then what are we being saved from and why do we need salvation? Why would humans rebel against God? Just curious. And also, Baptists believe in original sin after a fashion. It is just that it kicks in not at birth, but at the age of accountability.

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Anyway, thanks for the replies. As for the christians who dont get my argument, it is simple.

I think it's flawed since "salvation by grace and not by works" is not contradictory to the fact that one must believe. Actually salvation by grace through faith is the antithesis to any suggestion of human merit.

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Yes, their works are judged, but elsewhere the NT also clearly says those that do not believe are damned.

That's true, but I think the reprobation is rather a result of the unbelievers state living without God and rejecting his mercy.

 

If you reject original sin, then what are we being saved from and why do we need salvation? Why would humans rebel against God? Just curious. And also, Baptists believe in original sin after a fashion. It is just that it kicks in not at birth, but at the age of accountability.

That Baptists view seems to be near my own. We are being saved from the domination of sin and Satan, and we need salvation since we are enslaved to them.

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I reject the sort of God who looks at me as an "undeserving rebel subject" simply for being born.

 

Ms. D,

 

I think your premise for rejection is wrong. I think you are limiting God's perspective to yours.

Isn't that what the Bible does, and every Christian believer with it? Why is God limited to only save those who "believe in Jesus?" Why is only the Christian version of God true? If God exists, he/she/it might be much larger and wider than that!

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The gift isn't free, it requires human works in order for salvation to be granted.

If the human doesn't take specific affirmative actions, they don't get saved.

That it requires human "works" (i.e. you accept and believe what God has done in Christ), doesn't mean the gift isn't free.

Sounds like the same redefinition of the word over the last couple of years in the software industry. Free software used to mean that you got it, and you could use it, unlimited time, and didn't have to pay for it--ever. But nowadays it means "limited demo version, which only works for 30 days." Then you have to cough up the money.

 

Is there any word today which means "unconditionally free--yours without any string attached or actions your part required?"

 

These are some of the definitions of the word free:

not subject to or constrained by engagements or obligations : she spent her free time shopping.

given or available without charge : free health care.

using or expending something without restraint; lavish : she was always free with her money.

 

So is grace really free in this sense?

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The gift isn't free, it requires human works in order for salvation to be granted.

If the human doesn't take specific affirmative actions, they don't get saved.

That it requires human "works" (i.e. you accept and believe what God has done in Christ), doesn't mean the gift isn't free.

 

A free gift doesn't require anything on the part of the receiver.

Your version of the gift isn't free, it's conditional.

It requires that the human responds in an affirmative way in order for the gift to be obtained.

According to the New Testament, simple belief isn't even sufficient to obtain the gift.

You also have to repent, confess, be baptized, and do some good works.

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Guest ikant

The problem is that we are making a false comparison when it comes to free gifts. A free watch is not the same thing as a free bungee cord jump. Both do require action of course, you must accept the gift, that is a work. But there is alot more to bungee jumping than wearing a watch. In that vein, what is it that makes a christian "recieve the gift?" The point is that even if the gospel were true, there would have to be something inherent within those who receive that is not existence in the non believer. If you call it evil in the non believer, then we must ask why the non believer is evil and not the believer, especially considering the bible saying "all are under sin." If all are equally under a curse, then how can one person escape this trap and another remain unsaved? This is where Calvinism is more honest to the logic of the N.T.. If you believe in free will, where does the will to be saved come from? We know the will to deny god is innate, as in the sinful nature, but are christians going to argue that god gives us a hunger for him first? does he gives us all a hunger? if he gives us a hunger and we reject him, was the hunger he gave us not enough? how do we make our hunger stronger? As a christian, you should take these questions seriously and not talk around them because the answers are obvious. If you dont understand the premise of the logical fallacy, try being humble enough to admit that this is at least confusing, instead of simply deflecting it with bible verses that dont answer the question.

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