I'll start this post with a very important thing, that you might have observed already:
We understand each other as a greek man talking to a chinese man.
You know, the words I say and I use have a totally different meaning to you than they have to me.
And perhaps the same happens vice-versa (an exception is when I don't understand terms you use, at all).
I'll say now a brief description of how I understand things with faith & deeds & salvation:
- Unlike you guys, I don't believe that we are 'born again'/'saved'/or whatever word you like, by a priest when we are babies. The only "salvation" that God offers is to conscious people (among other conditions). So a man (not a baby) can be saved in a period of his life, and not by the will of a man (e.g. a priest) and no man can prevent it.
Awesome! We don't either! The priest saves no one. God saves. Always.
Now, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "a man (not a baby) can be saved in a period of his life, and not by the will of a man (e.g. a priest) and no man can prevent it." That doesn't make sense to me.
Sorry, my mistake. I should have written "a man (not a baby) can be saved in a moment of his life, and not by the will of a man (e.g. a priest) and no man can prevent it
My point was like this - I'll give now an explanation:
We have a country and a king in history: it is written in the chronicles that the king X built the chuch Y.
What does it mean? Does it mean that the king himself got to work gathering bricks and wood, and started to build himself?
No! It means that HE was the boss, the one in charge: He ORDERED the church to be built - if he didn't do that, that specific church would have not been built then, there. But because He DID ORDER, then the people
(not himself) built it.
The same is with the priest and God: you put the priest as the "master" (king) and God as the "servant": if the priest does not baptize the child, then God does not save him = the child does not receive the Holy Spirit. But if the priest does baptize the child, then, AT HIS DOING (in that moment, because he did that) God saves the child (i.e. baptizes him with the Holy Spirit). It's the same as saying that the priest saves, because He is the master that commands God when, where and whom to receive the Holy Spirit, and if the priest does not do that, God can't do it himself, i.e. it all depends on the priest. And this theory of yours with the priest baptizing children to receive the Holy Spirit is also contrary - as I have said a long time ago - with John 1.13 ("by the will of a man").
It sounds like you are denying babies can be saved, but surely you don't mean that.
I did mean that. But "saved" and "salvation" need to be discussed further, i.e. I don't mean that babies go to hell if they die as babies. They simply don't enter the process of salvation (when the regeneration occurs, etc.).
- The man "is saved" (i.e. enters the period/process of "salvation") because of faith - Galatians 3.14, John 3.15. He is "born again"/"saved"/"united with Christ" when he receives the Holy Spirit (also said, "baptzied/immersed with/in the Holy Spirit"). He enters the salvation because of "faith" (i.e. trust in God, besides the conviction that God exists (obviously), etc.), not because of deeds: no matter how many deeds you do, that will not make him enter "salvation", it requires faith for that (Romans 9.30-32) (and here babies fail too).
"Because of faith" and "through faith" are two quite different things.
I'm sorry about that, in my language "by" and "through" are translated with the same word, and it is a bit hard for me not to confuse them and to explain such a thing properly.
Anyway, is there this distinction in greek? I'm not certain about that (if you can, please check that). For instance, in Acts 3.16, "through" can also be translated as "by": http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G1909&t=KJV&page=16
And I also found in Ephesians 2.8 "through" to be defined as:http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1223&t=KJV
I'd suggest you re-read not only Romans, but Ephesians. We are saved "by grace," i.e., "because of grace." We are saved THROUGH faith -- faith is the means by which we lay hold of the Gifts. But faith is not the cause of salvation, lest faith become the one good work we have to do to be saved. You say expressly that we do not have to do "deeds" to be saved, and yet you seem to turn faith into a deed.
No, actually "saved through faith" does not mean "being (i.e. continually) saved through faith". I'll explain below.
As about "faith being deed" you said. I guess there is an important thing I forgot to say in that summary (and perhaps I also got myself confused while talking about the subject, sorry for that)
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God
ok, which is the gift/grace of God?
From the verse I see that it is the faith
Consider John 6.44: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him
What does it mean to come to Christ? Doesn't it mean to come to believe in Him? And what does it mean that the Father draws him? What is this drawing to Christ? If coming to Christ means to come to believe in Him, then drawing him to Christ should
mean the "faith" which is the gift of God: God gives faith = God makes a man [truly] believe in Jesus Christ. This is how God draws a man to Christ. And this "faith" is obviously not at all the same as the silly belief some have because their grandma told them that it is so, when they were little.
This is how the faith needed to be saved (i.e. to enter the process of salvation) is not a deed we do. Besides this faith, and after that, there is the trust in God (also a faith
) which is on us to do: to continue to trust God, i.e. a man to entrust his life in His hands = to trust that his life is in God's hands and to fully agree with it being so and to trust that all he passes through is something allowed by God to happen or coming from God, to trust that He is active in his life, to trust that God is as He is described in the bible, e.g. that He doesn't lie, that He is good, etc.
We receive the Holy Spirit at our chrismation, whether that occurs as an infant or as an adult.
This is a discussion we also had before but didn't get to a resolution.
- Since the moment a man is "saved", he enters into a period of "salvation" that fortunately lasts until he dies (it depends on the man). If it lasts until he dies, he goes to heaven. If it doesn't, he goes to hell. The possibility to lose his "salvation" is if he 'rebels' against God and returns to his life of before. A man does not lose his salvation by a silly mistake or because he did not do enough deeds or because he did not struggle enough to do good deeds.
I'm not sure how to answer this. Depending on what you mean hear, I might agree or I might disagree.
I'm quite certain I disagree there is a "moment" a man is saved. Salvation is a process. It is not a moment in time.
I did mean that there is a moment a man is saved in. And I do believe you agree with me - it might be... terminology.
Explanation: if you have "salvation" as a process, then that process must have a beginning. And that beginning of the process is the "moment" the man is saved. I guess you understand that people are "saved" (i.e. the moment in which they enter the process of salvation) when they are baptized in water.
I hope it sounds more clear now.
- The "faith" (i.e. the true/authentic faith) gives itself birth to deeds. If one's faith does not give birth to deeds, then his faith is a dead faith (not an authentic/true faith). In other words, deeds are an effect of the true/authentic faith (i.e. trust in God). The "deeds" (i.e. the good deeds) are the effect of his faith (Philimon 1.6, as well as the events with Abraham and Rahab) & the Holy Spirit dwelling in him.
I don't entirely disagree with this, but I think it unnecessarily divides faith and works. True faith reveals itself in works, and works teach us true faith.
Nowhere in the bible do you find that DEEDS give birth
to FAITH. That is what you said by "works teach us true faith".
Do we both agree that "faith" is "trust" / "conviction"? (consider Hebrews 11.1)
If so, how can you say that by helping a poor you start to trust God? Or how can you say that by helping a poor an atheist starts to be convinced that God exists and that the Bible is true, etc.? Do you not see that works do not lead to faith?
They are not, as you seem to make them, opposing forces, but rather they are dependent on one another.
I did not depict them as opposing forces. They are quite dependent on one another. Only that, the other way around: the deeds are dependent on faith, i.e. the faith gives birth to deeds, not the faith is dependent on deeds, i.e. not the deeds give birth to faith.
There isn't a "faith first, then works" aspect to salvation.
I don't speak about different periods of time (in period X you have faith and in period Y deeds). I speak about cause-effect.
We are saved by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God. It is not of works, lest any man should boast. This much is certainly true.
And this does not contradict what I said.
But we are also saved to do the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do.
Find me the saying "saved to do works" in the Bible, as I fear you misused the term "saved" here. Notice also that Ephesians 2.10 does not say "saved to do ...".
Read one verse more and you see that salvation is not "faith and not works," or "faith first, and then later works," but rather "faith which clings to the good works God has for us to do, and good works which teach us what true faith looks like."
As I said, it is the other way around:
"faith clings to the good works"
"good works cling to faith"
And Ephesians 2.10 does NOT say that works teach us what true faith is. You understand that good works give birth to faith, but it is not so.
And also please consider what "faith" truly means. If you agree that "faith" means trust/conviction then you must agree that no matter how many good works a man does, that would not bring him faith (trust/conviction) in God, etc.
- After a man enters the process/period of salvation, there is no need for him to (perhaps, also cannot) fear that he would afterwards go to hell because "he did not do enough deeds" -as it is not the deeds themselves that save him from hell: it is the abiding in Christ that ensures that he won't go to hell, and the abiding in Christ results in "good deeds" (it's about the vine and the branches).
I don't fear I will go to hell because I have not done enough deeds. I fear I will go to hell because I haven't even begun to repent.
So, why do you not repent? Or what do you understand by repentance?
And the more I try to do good works, fast, pray, give alms, etc., the more I realize I am utterly unworthy of salvation.
I also met a baptist young lady once. She was about 17 or 18 back then. She was desperately trying to do all kinds of good works so that she would not go to hell and was permanently fearing that she would not go to heaven. She was very depressed and was feeling utterly unworthy, feeling a kind of impediment for her from going heaven. I didn't know why she was depressed from her, her brother told me some long time after... very proud, considering this as a kind of virtue and as a test from God. He was with some friends of him, baptist youth from the same church. I tried to explain them that by/through faith we are saved, not by/through deeds, so that there is no need to panic or get depressed of going to hell because of not doing enough good deeds. They laughed.
I trust God's mercy. Trusting my pitiful works would be folly. But the works serve quite a good purpose for my soul. They teach me what unity with Christ looks like.
Good works do serve a good purpose, but not that which you say. Good works cannot teach what unity with Christ is. Unity either is - and you know it - or it is not.
I'll try to give an explanation as close as possible, perhaps it would help: you know God speaks about unity between man and woman, that they become one flesh. Imagine how it is when you are married and you love your wife from all your heart and she loves you from all her heart and you feel that you are united. You are a united family, desiring the same things, caring for one another, etc.. And imagine how a disunited family should look like, i.e. when one is cold to the other or both are cold to each other, because either one does not love the other, or neither of them loves the other. This disunity can also be felt, as unity can be felt. And no "work" can teach how unity should be when there isn't. And no work can make there be a unity.
- In the period/process of salvation, the man is continually growing/being transformed into the likeness of God, by the Holy Spirit(2 Cor 3.18).
This is the sum total of what I have been trying to say -- salvation is not something that is a once-done deal. It is us being drawn to God, closer and closer and closer.
But it DOES have a beginning (which is the moment when a person is "saved"). This is what I've been trying to say.
Orthodox people seem to claim that there is a process of salvation without a beginning ("it just is, don't ask since when or where!") and many or most protestants seem to claim that there is a certain moment and that that is the only thing there is. But there is both a moment (i.e. a beginning) and a process.