You can pretty much ideologically prove what you want to by citing one or two Bible verses and ignoring the rest of the Bible.
Salvation by water baptism only? Just isolate 1 Peter 3:18-22.
Salvation by belief and confession only? Romans 10:8-10 will do.
Salvation by belief only? Acts 16:31
Salvation by belief and baptism only? Mark 16:16
Salvation by loving the truth alone? 2 Thessalonians 2:10
Salvation by just hearing? Ephesians 1:13
Salvation that follows only through repentance and godly sorrow? 2 Corinthians 7:10
Savlation for women through childbearing alone? 1 Timothy 2:15, though you have to stretch the word “she” into “women” there.
Salvation only by staying with the ship? Acts 27:31
Salvation only by being an Israelite? Romans 11:26
Salvation only by being a Gentile? Acts 28:28
Salvation only by doing good things: feeding and clothing the poor, helping the sick, visiting the imprisoned? Matthew 25:34-40
Salvation only by grace through faith? Ephesians 2:8
Okay, the contexts of some of those are deliberately spurious, having nothing to do with the kind of salvation or “being saved” that we usually talk about. A few are outright silly.
My point is that we don’t always know what we’re talking about when we speak of salvation, or in what context it’s found in scripture, or how God bestows it.
Salvation isn’t a matter of “either-or,” but “and” and “and” and “and.”
Personally, my hermeneutic on salvation is seeing a lot of those scriptures describing it as becoming as much like Jesus as humanly possible.
He was human, so it is theoretically possible. He was and is divine, so it may be functionally impossible for the rest of us.
That shouldn’t keep us from trying.
Many of those scriptures above are attributes of an ongoing process called salvation which, according to Philippians 2:12-13, we work out by letting God work through us, “according to His good purpose.”
Therefore, the good works that we do are not our works, but His; He chooses to achieve them through us.
We give up doing what we want to do, and do what He wants us to do. We crucify self, and enthrone the Crucified in our hearts:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
Salvation begins here and now, and continues in eternity forever.
As Christians, we choose and are chosen by God to be agents of that salvation in our own lives and in the world. We are literally God’s work in progress. He equips us for it with His own Holy Spirit.
So there is never a point, as long as we live, at which we can live a Christian life – a life of worship – without letting Him work through us. We do so in gratitude for what He has done for us, but also for what He will yet do through us.
And as long as we are His instruments of peace, there is never a point at which we have to be worried about our salvation.
It is given by God’s grace, accepted in faith, expressed through His work in us.
7 thoughts on “By Grace, Through Faith, Expressed in Works?”
I love it! This one’s a keeper.
Good post. There is a real danger in not letting Scripture interpret Scripture. So many mistakes arise from isolating passages from the larger context. I was once a member of a Disciple’s church that was debating “open membership” (allowing people to join as members who had been baptized by any means other than immersion as adults). One sweet lady in the church complained to me, based on Romans 10, that salvation is just believing and confessing…no baptism. Never mind that Romans 6 establishes baptism as a part of the process. On the other hand, the Church of Christ too often has made salvation a checklist, with a BIG emphasis on baptism over all else. I’ll stop now….
Now THERE is a GOSPEL sermon!!!!>>Keep bringing it Keith!>>DU
The idea of scripture interpreting scripture is in fact another form of the mantic or the occult. See http://vridar.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/scripture-interpreting-scripture-occultism/
neil, thanks for dropping by. But it’s hard for me to take seriously someone who mistakes biblical scholarship for the occult.>>(Or someone who uses words like “fifthly” in his posts.)
Salvation? Human beings do not need salvation. They need enlightenment; enlightenment from the belief in invisible ghouls and devils and the fear of these imaginary creatures. If humans need to be saved from anything it is from the superstitions of supernatural belief systems such as traditional Christianity. These belief systems are ultimately based on fear and their teachings often foster prejudice and sectarianism. These beliefs must be exposed as the false, ancient superstitions that they are.
I believe that traditional Christianity can be proven false in less than five minutes, simply by knocking out the three pillars of the Christian Faith (belief system):
1. The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus
2. The Accuracy of Old Testament Prophecy
3. The Witness of the Holy Spirit
And here is the evidence that destroys these three superstition-based claims:
1. Based on cumulative human experience, it is much more probable that the early Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus was due to one disciple’s bereavement hallucination (probably Simon Peter’s) than a once in history reanimation of a three-day-brain-dead corpse. Persons who experience hallucinations believe them to be real life experiences. If Paul was able to convince first century Jews in Asia Minor that he had seen a resurrected Jesus based on a “heavenly vision”, then Simon Peter was surely capable of convincing first century Jews (including the other disciples) in Palestine that he had seen the resurrected Jesus, even though his experience had really been an hallucination. The remainder of the “appearances” of Jesus listed in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15 could simply have been static images (illusions) something we see today with alleged group sightings of the Virgin Mary. The Early Creed gives no details whatsoever of these appearances. The detailed appearances in the four Gospels may well be literary embellishments, very common in Greco-Roman biographies, the genre of literature in which most New Testament scholars, including many conservative Christian scholars, believe the authors of the Gospels were writing.
2. The Book of Daniel is a blatant fraud. The book very accurately portrays the events in the Greek Empire down to abstract minutia but makes major errors regarding the Babylonian and Persian empires, the empires during which the book’s author infers the book was written. Jesus quotes from this fraudulent book. Jesus, who was not a scholar, was fooled by the author. Modern scholars are not fooled.
3. The “witness of the Holy Spirit” is a joke. Christians can no more prove that the voice that allegedly speaks to them is their god than can the Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Jews, and others prove that the voice that speaks to them is their god. Watch this powerful video for proof:
Yet millions of Christians will go right on believing, despite your proof or evidence – which is basically a number of uncited assertions: “more probable,” “could have been,” etc.
I don’t mean to be unkind, but those are theories, not evidence.
And “… is a joke” would be an opinion.
I’ve seen more credible evidences against the concept of Christianity, Gary, but what you should understand about religion is that it is based on faith. Facts may support that faith, but do not comprise it. There is more to faith than supporting facts.
People believe what they want to believe. Christians want to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who let Himself be killed as an example of ultimate selfless love, the same love that He taught an exemplified in His life here, which He spent mostly in trying to help others and teach against religion for the sake of selfishness.
Now, I’ll grant that people have added a lot of terrible nonsense to Christianity in order to tame it into a religion that fits their needs, but it’s none of that.
It’s living a life of selfless love toward others.
It’s a matter of the heart, not just the head.
Is that such a horrible thing to believe in?