Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Study in Baptismal Regeneration: Part 1, Faith Alone

In the intro to this series, I explained that I would be going through a series at another blog which intends, in part, to refute the claim that Cornelius and his household were saved before being baptized in water (Acts 10). In this part 1 of my series we're going to look at part of the second entry in that series, focusing on whether or not salvation is through faith alone.


In the second entry in this study (I have no disagreement with the first), entitled "Water vs. Spirit," the blogger begins:

Baptism passages such as Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Colossians 2:9-15, and 1 Peter 3:21 refer to water baptism and not Spirit baptism. Some will claim these passages refer to Spirit baptism, in an attempt to avoid the plain teaching of Scripture that water baptism is for salvation.

Those who deny the Biblical teaching on water baptism are usually motivated by the man-made doctrine of "faith alone." This doctrine is based upon interpreting Ephesians 2:8-9 out of context. As explained in a previous study, the context of Ephesians 2:8-9 is abundantly clear. Paul is teaching that salvation is apart from works of the Law of Moses, and apart from circumcision in particular. Paul is not teaching salvation is apart from any obedience on our part.

Now, the blogger's statement in the opening paragraph above is partly true. Indeed there are some who, like I have done at times, argue that those passages refer to baptism in the Holy Spirit (though there are other Christians who do not believe baptism is a prerequisite for salvation who do not understand the passages in this way; that may come into play later in my series). However, it is quite simply a mischaracterization to say they are doing so "in an attempt to avoid the plain teaching of Scripture that water baptism is for salvation." Like the blogger does, and like all Christians are called to do, such Christians are attempting to interpret Scripture in light of Scripture. The "plain" reading of any particular verse is not what matters. What matters is the interpretation of any particular verse which comports with what the rest of Scripture teaches.

It is additionally a mischaracterization to imply that the doctrine of sola fide ("faith alone") is based solely, or even primarily, upon Ephesians 2:8-9. While that is not explicitly stated here, many readers will, I think, infer it, and an article written honestly would take care to point out that the doctrine, whether true or false, is based on more passages than this.


What's more important, however, is the defense of the heresy that our works contribute to our salvation expressed in the second paragraph. We'll look at the passage, and a related one, in a moment, but I want to first express how much it breaks my heart that professing Christians actually believe that salvation is the result of works of obedience. Many who hold to this view of baptism also believe (I'm not sure if this is the case with this particular blogger) that their salvation is contingent upon their continued, consistent obedience. In other words, in order to be saved, they must remain obedient. How sad, what a heavy burden, and what a far cry from the light burden Jesus offers.

I simply can't fathom how anybody could think this is good news: "You are a sinner, guilty of violating a Law of commandments, but you can be forgiven and saved from judgement by following another Law of commandments faithfully." Fortunately, I don't have to fathom it. The Bible expressly teaches otherwise. We'll see why in a moment, but first, is this really forgiveness? Of course not. Matt Slick over at has given a useful analogy while I'll paraphrase here.

Imagine you are at your friend's house and you either accidentally or intentionally knock over their lamp, breaking it, a lamp originally costing your friend ten dollars. You plead with your friend asking him to forgive you, expressing how sorry you are that you broke the lamp. Now, imagine your friend says to you, "That's ok, friend. I forgive you. I'll declare your ten dollar debt paid in full, so long as you wash my car." Is that forgiveness? Really? No, it's compensation, it's paying a debt.

I plan to publish an episode of my podcast in the near future in which I'll tackle the issue of justification by faith alone in more depth. In the meantime, let's look more closely at this and a related passage.


Ephesians 2:8-9 reads as follows:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (NASB)

The blogger focuses on the phrase, "not as a result of works," writing, "Paul is teaching that salvation is apart from works of the Law of Moses, and apart from circumcision in particular. Paul is not teaching salvation is apart from any obedience on our part." However, Paul gives a reason why salvation is not the result of works: "that no one may boast." Before we take a closer look at that, just contemplate that for a moment.

If salvation is apart from the Mosaic Law in order that we cannot boast, how does a salvation resulting from other works of obedience avoid that problem? If one could boast that one has kept the commandments of the Mosaic Law, one could similarly boast in one's obedience to whatever other commands from which salvation does result. So even if in context Paul has in mind only works of the Mosaic Law, his words preclude us from thinking that salvation is the result of any acts of obedience.

That having been said, an examination of how the word "boast" is used elsewhere in the New Testament would seem to support the contention that the kind of boasting Paul refers to in Ephesians is boasting specifically in one's inclusion in, and obedience to, the Mosaic Covenent. The blogger might argue from silence, then, saying that salvation resulting from works of obedience to other commands would not allow for boasting. However, when doing this word study one stumbles upon a very, very important passage.


The word rendered "boast" in Ephesians 2:9 is καυχάομαι (kauchaomai), and is a verb. The corresponding noun is the word καύχημα (kauchema), meaning either a thing about which one can boast, or an act of boasting (much like the word "jog" can either mean "to jog" or "a jog"). It's used in Romans 4:2 which reads, "if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast [καύχημα] about, but not before God." A close look at this passage reveals the likelihood that the word "boast" is still being used in connection to the Mosaic Law. After all, Paul rhetorically asks in verse 9, "Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also?" There are, however, a few more critical points to draw from this passage.

To begin with, in verse 4 Paul writes, "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due." This is one fundamental problem with the blogger's contention that salvation results from works of obedience to other commands. Paul's point is that obedience to a particular set of commands, in this case those comprising the Mosaic Law, earns something. Remember Matt Slick's illustration above about knocking a friend's lamp over? If your friend offers to forgive you on the condition that you wash his car, you are earning his forgiveness. His forgiveness would not be a favor, but what is due.

You see, it is absolutely true that in context, the works apart from which Paul says we are saved are the works of the Mosaic Covenant. However, Paul's argument transcends the Law, and applies to all works of obedience. This is why he goes on in verse 5 to say, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness." Paul is contrasting one who is righteous by virtue of his deeds with one who is considered or declared righteous by virtue of his faith.


Let's take a closer look at what Paul says of Abraham in Romans chapter 4. In verse 3, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6. That chapter begins with Abraham (at this point still called Abram) receiving a vision from God in which Abraham is promised great reward. In verse 4 the Lord promises Abraham an heir, and in verse 5 He promises that Abraham's descendants will be as numerous as the stars in heaven. In verse 6 we read, "Then [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."

Abraham's simple belief that God would do what He said He would do is what Paul says justified him, and in Romans 4:5 he says that this demonstrates that "to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness." He goes in verse 6 to quote Psalm 32:1-2, saying that there David likewise speaks of God crediting righteousness apart from works: "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity."

You see, this is what it means to be saved. It means to be 1) forgiven of our sins, 2) counted as being righteous, 3) on account of our faith, 4) apart from works. Look what Paul goes on to say in verse 10: "How then was [righteousness] credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised." The point is, we are counted as being righteous before we're obedient!


Now, at this point the proponent of baptismal regeneration might still attempt to argue that this righteousness apart from works applies specifically to works of obedience to the Mosaic commands. After all, Paul goes on to say that this was so that this blessing would be not only to circumcised Jews but to uncircumcised Gentiles as well. However, once again, Paul's argument transcends the Law. He says in verse 11, "he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised." In other words, he was counted as being righteous, on the basis of his faith alone, before any acts of obedience, which followed after the saving faith.

Paul expands on this beginning in verse 19 writing,

Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

That's the third time Paul has quoted Genesis 15:6 in this passage! His point cannot be clearer: Abraham was forgiven of his sinfulness and counted as being righteous on the basis of his faith before any works of obedience. And look how the chapter ends:

Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

You see, just as Abraham was justified by God--that is, forgiven of his sins and counted as being righteous--on the basis of his faith before any works of obedience, so, too, will we be. We, like Abraham, are justified by God--that is, forgiven of our sins and counted as being righteous--on the basis of our faith before any works of obedience. That is how we are saved.


In part 2 of this series we'll look at James 2, the passage arguably most frequently pointed to in objecting to what is clearly taught by Paul in Romans 4. Then we'll take a look at the next paragraph in part 2 of the other blogger's series, in which it is argued that faith itself is a work, and therefore that we are not saved apart from any works. That's right, folks: by the end of part 2 of my series, we'll have made it through a total of 3 paragraphs in the other series! Stay tuned...


  1. Chris,

    Nice explanation and understanding of the language of Romans 4:2. You are spot on and I look forward to the rest of your series!


  2. Is Half of The Story Sufficient For Salvation?

    How many sides are there to a story? If you say two, then you are wrong. If you had one side and I had one side that would make two sides. However, there is a third side, the side of truth.

    Rule # 1... One half of truth does not a truth make. Neither does one half of a story make the full story.

    No intelligent person can hear one side of a story and decide which side has the truth.

    Both sides have to be heard, then analysed, and then a decision has to be made as to which side (if either) has a valid story, and after that, the right side(s), or truth side, can be determined.

    This thinking holds true for discerning what Holy Scripture tells us.

    Throughout the Bible there are double standards, yet the fundamentalist thinking shows only one standard, or one side of the story, or only one half of the truth.

    Their thinking is in violation of rule # 1. With only one half of truth, you do not have truth. Anything less than the whole truth is error.

    In the following examples, side 'A' is the first side, side 'B' is the second, and side 'C' is the right, or truth side.

    Example # 2... Sola Fides... Saved by faith alone. The fundamentalist believes he is assured of salvation. All he has to do is to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior and salvation is automatic and irrevocable no matter what he does for the rest of his life.

    Oh Yeah? What happened to the ten commandments?

    A. Many verses in Scripture attest to salvation by faith alone. Joel 2:32, "...that every one that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

    Acts 2:21 says the same almost word for word, and likewise for Rom 10:13. "...I live in the faith of the Son of GOD...", is from Gal 2:20. Again, these are beautiful words that should be heeded by all.

    B. However, elsewhere in Scripture there is quite a different side of the story. Start with Mt 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven shall enter the kingdom of Heaven."

    It is very clear that you have to do the will of the Father to gain salvation. I like 1Cor 10:12, "...let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

    That one says you cannot be guaranteed of salvation. Then James 2:14-26 says over and over, "...Faith too without works is dead...Faith without works is Faith also without works is dead." Again, words to be heeded by all.

    C. So what is the answer to this dilemma? Is this one of those Bible 'conflicts' you keep hearing about? No, not at all. The answer is very simple.

    There are two types of salvation, 'objective salvation', and 'subjective salvation'.

    The verses in 'A' are examples of objective salvation. Jesus Christ did atone for all of our sins, past, present and future.

    He did His part and did it well, but He left the burden upon each one of us to complete the second side of the story by atoning for our own sins, by doing the will of the Father.

    We have to keep the commandments. We have to practice 'subjective salvation'. There is no salvation by accepting only part of Scripture as shown in 'A', and by rejecting, or trying to explain away the verses in 'B'.

    Yet this is what some non-Catholics are doing. Again, we have to combine 'A', and 'B', to have the full truth.

    A+B=C = TRUTH.

  3. It is additionally a mischaracterization to imply that the doctrine of sola fide ("faith alone") is based solely, or even primarily, upon Ephesians 2:8-9.

    No, that is essentially true; that is the main verse sited by Evangelicals as to "faith alone"; and it is then backed up with verses such as John 3:16, Romans 3:28, Acts 16:31.
    My personal experience over the last 20 years, ask anyone why they believe in "faith alone" and 99% of the time they quote that verse right away.

    As to salvation, let's be honest, all Christian denominations (Catholic, Eastern, Protestant, Evangelical, Church of Christ) teach we are saved by Grace Alone. The real debate is are we saved by Faith Alone? That is the actual discussion.

  4. Additionally, a further question is, "Is salvation a one time event or is it a process"?
    Probably better to save that for another blog, but then again, that alters the interpretation of scripture considerably.

  5. The analogy of breaking a lamp doesn't really fit. To be saved, we must repent and believe, those are conditions we meet in order to receive the GIFT of salvation. If nothing is required on our part, the following verses make no sense:

    Hebrews 5:9 - He is author (source) of salvation to all that OBEY Him

    1 John 5:3; 2 John 6 - "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments."

    Acts 17:30 - God commands all men everywhere to repent. (So, repentance is a command that must be obeyed).

    2 Peter 3:9 - All must come to repentance or they will perish (Luke 13:3,5).

    Acts 5:32 We are witnessess of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who OBEY Him

    Acts 26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and "prove their repentance by their deeds".

    1 John 2:3-6 - To know Him and abide in Him, we must keep his commands, keep his word. If we are not doing so, but still claim to know Him, we are liars, and we don't abide in Him. [Note what happens to liars - Rev. 21:8; John 15:5,6.]
    1 John 3:6-8,10 - If we want to be righteous, we must practice righteousness. If we practice sin, we are of the Devil. If we don't practice righteousness, we are not of God.

    Matt 6:14-15 "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you". "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions".

    Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY SEEK Him.

    Phil 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling

    1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has "denied the faith" and is worse than an unbeliever

  6. Those passages are all consistent with sola fide, and there are real problems with the eisegesis that results in them being used as evidence against sola fide. This will be addressed in either future entries in this series, or in my podcast. Either way, Romans 4 demonstrates very clearly that we are justified--forgiven of our sin and counted as being righteous by God--before any act of obedience.

    However, Paul's argument transcends the Law, and applies to all works of obedience.

    That is merely a contention on your part, you are just inserting that thought into the text.

    CHRIS SAID: In other words, he was counted as being righteous, on the basis of his faith alone.

    Again, you just inserted the word ALONE into the text when it is clearly not there. The same as Martin Luther inserted the word ALONE into Romans 3:28 when it is clearly not there.

    All through Romans and the other Epistles of Paul, he is constantly contrasting faith and works of the law, especially mentioning circumcision numerous times. He never "transcends" to ANY works of man.

    If anything he transcends to an ACTIVE faith. Galations 5:6 is a perfect example. He says, "circumcision is of no avail, the only thing that counts is" alone?,... "the only thing that counts is faith WORKING in love."

  8. The Bible tells us we must have faith in order to be saved (Hebrews 11:6). Yet is faith nothing more than believing and trusting? Searching the Scriptures, we see faith also involves assent to God's truth (1 Thessalonians 2:13), obedience to Him (Romans 1:5, 16:26), and it must be working in love (Galatians 5:6). These points appeared to be missed by the reformers, yet they are just as crucial as believing and trusting. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) should be heeded by all, it's certainly an attention grabber.

    If faith - love = nothing, do you want to say we are saved by nothing?

    Paul speaks of faith as a life-long process, never as a one-time experience (Philippians 2:12). He never assumes he has nothing to worry about. If he did, his words in (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) would be nonsensical. He reiterates the same point again in his second letter to Corinth (2 Corinthians 13:5). He takes nothing for granted, yet all would agree if anyone was "born again" it certainly was Paul. Our Lord and Savior spoke of the same thing by "remaining in Him" (John 15:1-11).

    Paul tells us our faith is living and can go through many stages. It never stays permanently fixed after a single conversion experience no matter how genuine or sincere. Our faith can be shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19), departed from (1 Timothy 4:1), disowned (1 Timothy 5:8) wandered from (1 Timothy 6:10), and missed (1 Timothy 6:21). Christians do not have a "waiver" that exempts them from these verses.

    Do our works mean anything? According to Jesus they do (Matthew 25:31-46). The people rewarded and punished are done so by their actions. And our thoughts (Matthew 15:18-20) and words (James 3:6-12) are accountable as well. These verses are just as much part of the Bible as Romans 10:8-13 and John 3:3-5.

    Some will object by appealing to Romans 4:3 and stating Abraham was "declared righteous" before circumcision. Thus he was only saved by "believing" faith (Genesis 15:6), not by faith "working in love" (Galatians 5:6). Isn't this what Paul means when he says none will be justified by "works of law" (Romans 3:28)? No, this is not what he means. He's condemning the Old Covenant sacrifices and rituals which couldn't justify and pointing to better things now in Christ Jesus in the New Covenant (Hebrews 7-10).

    A close examination of Abraham's life revealed a man of God who DID something. In Genesis 12, 13 and 14 he makes two geographical moves, builds an altar and calls on the Lord, divides land with Lot to end quarrels, pays tithes, and refuses goods from the King of Sodom to rely instead on God's providence. He did all these works as an old man. It was certainly a struggle.

    After all these actions of faith, then he's "declared righteous" (Genesis 15:6). Did these works play a role in his justification? According to the Bible, yes.

    The book of James quotes Gen 22:2 stating Abraham was declared righteous for what he DID, offering his son, and then quotes Gen 15:6 just as Paul did. But it was his active working faith that justified him. James 2:22 says, "His faith was made complete by what he did"(obviously implying his faith would be incomplete by not obeying).

    Please compare Genesis 15:4-5 and Genesis 22:15-18.
    They say the exact same things. Abraham was justified through an active, living, obedient faith from Gen 12 all through Gen 22, not some "moment in time" in Gen 15 as you are trying to assert.

    Again read Gen 22:18 - all nations on earth will be blessed, BECAUSE YOU OBEYED ME!!!

    Also read Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, OBEYED and went, even though he did not know where he was going"..... This refers back to Gen 12:17. Again, Gen 15:4-5 was not the first time Abraham had faith, so your interpretation of Romans 4 is clearly mistaken.

  9. All you're doing is demonstrating that a genuine, saving faith produces works, which all advocates of the biblical truth that is sola fide affirm. But as Romans 4 demonstrates, Abraham's faith--the one which later produced works--was the basis upon which God justified him.

    And yes, Romans 4 does transcend the Law, because Paul uses the analogy of employment and shows that Abraham was justified on the basis of his faith before any act of obedience.

  10. And as for Abraham being justified in a moment in time, I have no problem agreeing that he expressed faith before that, but what Romans 4 demonstrates very clearly is that it was his faith which justified him--and our faith which justifies us--apart from obedience. Works follow from a true faith, but that faith justifies us, not the works.

    A tree is not an apple tree because it bears apples, it bears apples because it is an apple tree. Christ's sheep don't become His sheep because they hear Him, they hear Him because they're His sheep. We become a new creation and works flow from our regenerated heart which expresses a saving faith. The biblical message is consistent and clear.

  11. That's a nice analogy, but people aren't trees.
    An apple tree cannot choose to grow oranges.

    However, people can choose to sin, be disobedient, etc. David was considered a man after God's own heart, yet he chose to sleep with Bathsheba and kill her husband. How was his sin forgiven? He repented.

    Paul gave Abraham as an example of justification and then goes on and gives an example of David to refer to the same justification. If David had not confessed his sin, would he have been justified by God? Well, obviously no.

    Romans 4:7 quotes Psalm 32:1-2, but you need to read on to vs 5, he confessed his sin and repented.

    In Romans 4 you need to read on to vs 12, who also "WALK" in the footsteps of the faith of Abraham. Ephesians 2:10 - created to do good works that we should "WALK" in them.

    Once we are in Christ, we can still choose to disobey, choose to fall away, but if we endure to the end we shall be saved.

    Back to Romans 4, you are still confusing works of the law(something one can boast about, Romans 3:27)and good works(Romans 2:6) The Jews were bragging God owed them salvation because they kept the law. Works that demanded a wage.

    God graciously bestows salvation on us as we faithfully abide in Him.

  12. Actually people are frequently symbolized as trees, as they are sheep in John. The point is, our actions flow from what we are, not the other way around. The Bible teaches that we are justified by God on the basis of the faith we express from our regenerated heart, and works of obedience will flow from that changed heart. If we disobey, it is because we are not changed, and our expression of faith is not genuine.

  13. If you have no problem agreeing that Abraham expressed a genuine faith back in Gen 12, then why did God wait to declare him justified in Gen 15 which was many years later?

    David clearly called on the Lord when he was young to defeat Goliath. If he was justified by faith alone then, why is Paul using him as an example of being justified many years later?

    You said above, "if we disobey, it is because we are not changed and our expression of faith is not genuine."
    So if David had faith in God to defeat Goliath, and was later declared a man after God's own heart, I guess his faith was not genuine if he later committed adultery and murder!!

  14. Well actually, the text never says Abraham's faith was justifying until the passage quoted in Romans 4. But either way, Paul makes it clear that Abraham was justified--forgiven of sin and declared righteous before God--apart from acts of obedience. And Paul goes on to say this is the model of our faith. So Romans 4 disproves your view.

    Where does Paul say David was justified by God--forgiven of sin and declared righteous?

    As for sins like adultery and murder, Paul makes it clear that even those in Christ continue to struggle with sin, so your rhetoric simply falls flat.

  15. Your entire line of thought above on boasting, works and obedience doesn't make any sense. You keep trying to separate obedience from faith. A thought unknown in the ancient world. If I can boast of keeping the Mosaic Law, boast about being obedient, why could I not boast about having faith? Why not boast about believing? I could boast my God is better than your gods. You keep inserting thoughts into the text that are not there.

    Again, the broken lamp story is weak. For example:

    Suppose a King asks his son to go to the royal orchard and bring back a basket full of the King's favorite apples. After the son had complied, suppose the King gave his son half of his Kingdom. Was the reward a gift or something the son had earned?
    It was a gift. The son obviously didn't earn half his father's Kingdom for such a small task. The fact that the gift was conditioned on the son's obedience doesn't change the fact it was still a gift.

    The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God, but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses, and He chooses to give it to those who love and obey Him.

    As to your last post Nov. 24th....

    So, you are saying the faith Abraham had in Gen 12,13,14 did not justify him?
    But, the "special" faith he had apart from obedience in Gen 15 did justify him.
    And then when James cleary says, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?"..... Now will you change again and say he wasn't justified in Gen 22 either?

    Has it ever crossed your mind why absolutely no one ever interpreted these verses the way you just did until the 1500's?

    Perhaps there is a good reason for that.

  16. Romans 3:28 and
    James 2:24

    Numerous attempts have been made to reconcile "not by faith alone" with Protestant salvation by faith alone. A favorite of evangelicals is to say, "We are saved by faith alone but not by faith that is alone."
    That's a way of saying that faith alone saves us, but faith will produce works. It's an interesting attempt to reconcile these passages, but it really doesn't do them full service.
    If we are going to explain "not by faith alone," we ought to explain them the way Paul and James would have, and I believe Paul explains himself plenty well enough to do that.
    Paul was a careful theologian, and Romans is a careful explanation of his theology. All the answers we need are right in his letter.
    Paul spoke of salvation in the past tense and salvation in the future tense, each with different requirements.

    It's most apparent in Romans 5:9-10.
    Much more then, having been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
    Do you notice that each past-tense reference relates to the death of Christ, and each future-tense reference relates to the life of Christ in us?
    In the past tense, Paul always speaks of the death and blood of Christ, which saved us and forgave us of our sins. In the future tense, he always refers to the life of Christ working in us—by the Spirit and by grace—and he always refers to works.
    It's not just James who includes works. Paul only excludes works when he refers to salvation in the past tense. A great example is Ephesians 2:8-9:
    For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
    Here Paul refers to salvation in the past tense. In fact, the literal Greek would read, "for by grace are you having been saved through faith."

    When Paul refers to salvation in the future tense, the story is much different. Here, verses like Ephesians 5:5 provide excellent examples:
    For this you know: that no fornicator, unclean person, or covetous man has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
    While Ephesians 5:5 does not specifically use the word "works," it is clear that he is saying "not by faith alone." There are plenty of other verses, however, which do specifically use works (or a synonym).
    2 Cor. 5:10: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad.
    Rom. 2:6-7: [God] will repay every man according to his works. To those who seek after glory, honor, and immortality by patiently continuing to do good, [he will repay] eternal life.
    Gal: 6:8-9: He that sows to the Spirit shall reap everlasting life from the Spirit. Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap [eternal life], if we do not faint.
    I could go on, but those are good, clear verses. You will find Paul absolutely consistent in this respect.

    Thus we find that Paul completely agrees with James.
    Salvation is only by faith if we are speaking in the past tense of our forgiveness from sins, and our entrance into Christ. When we begin speaking in the future tense of judgment, eternal life, and entering the kingdom of heaven, there we find Paul agreeing with James. Future-tense salvation is not by faith alone.


  17. Let's be clear that good works are only done by the Spirit of God. Romans 7 describes the awful state of those who would seek to do good works in their own strength by rules, commands, or the Law.
    Paul tells us that we will only live [eternally] if we put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). If we live according to the flesh, he says, we will die.
    Paul was carefully explaining his theology in Romans because he was being misquoted and slandered. In that careful explanation he divides our deliverance from sin in the past tense from our future rewards. Even where he is not carefully explaining himself, he is enough of a theologian to be consistent in his terminology.
    James, on the other hand, is exhorting believers who are excusing their lifestyles by leaning on salvation by faith. He is not carefully explaining his Gospel. He speaks generally of salvation, and he says it involves both faith and works. With that Paul would completely agree with.

  18. In a previous post you said: If we disobey, it is because we are not changed, and our expression of faith is not genuine.......then you went on to say: As for sins like adultery and murder, Paul makes it clear that even those in Christ continue to struggle with sin.
    Well, which is it? If our faith is genuine we will never sin or if we sin, it shows our faith was not genuine?

  19. Where does Paul say David was justified by God--forgiven of sin and declared righteous?

    2 Samuel 11:13

    Psalm 32:3-5

  20. CHRIS SAID: We, like Abraham, are justified by God--that is, forgiven of our sins and counted as being righteous--on the basis of our faith before any works of obedience. That is how we are saved.

    You are trying to separate faith from obedience and it just cannot be done.
    Obedience is simply faith in action. Faith in Jesus is not a moment in time, it is a way of life. Abraham believed, trusted and obeyed God in Gen. 12,13 & 14. He was living a life of "faith and obedience" and then in Gen 15, he believed God's promise, again just demonstrating the faith he already possessed. Then, in Gen 22 he offered his son, continuing in his walk of faith and obedience to God.

    Clearly faith and obedience are intertwined as evidenced by the following verses:

    Acts 6:7 Even a large number of priests became OBEDIENT to the faith.

    Romans 1.5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the OBEDIENCE of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations

    Romans 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as "obedient" slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you "obey", either of sin, which leads to death, or of "obedience", which leads to righteousness (notice obedience leads to righteousness, exactly what happened to Abraham)

    Romans 6.17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to OBEY from your heart the "doctrine" that has now claimed your allegiance

    Romans 16.26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the OBEDIENCE of faith:

    1 Cor 7:19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God

    2 Thes 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not OBEY the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

    Gal 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from OBEYING the truth?
    Hebrews 5:9 and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who OBEY him.

    Heb. 10: 39 "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him". Hence, "to live by faith" is the opposite of "draw back." This is what the Bible teaches about saving faith.

    As to living a life of obedient faith(saving faith): For instance, "believeth" in such verses as John 3:16 is present tense. Meaning that the considered word "believeth" is not an isolated point in time event, but rather a way of life. In the original Greek it literally means "is believing".
    John 3:16 “For God so loved (aorist, a past point in time) the world, that he gave (aorist, a past point in time) his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (present, current, progressive action) in him should not perish (aorist, a past point in time), but have (present, current, progressive action) everlasting life.”

    1 peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by OBEYING the truth

    Can you have faith alone and not be obedient?......Can you have faith alone and not have good works in your life?
    Obviously you cannot, so therefore obedience and good works must be present in the "life" of the believer or he is not saved.

    Now don't twist what I am saying here. I didn't say perform works and then get saved. You are saved by Grace alone through faith when you are baptized into Christ. (in other words - by obeying the Gospel) and by His Grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit you will live a life of obedience and endure to the end.

  21. CHRIS SAID: So even if in context Paul has in mind only works of the Mosaic Law, his words "preclude us from thinking that salvation is the result of any acts of obedience."

    No, you are simply injecting that thought into the text

    The following I have paraphrased somewhat. In Romans chapters 2-4, Paul uses the phrase "works of law" or sometimes just "works", but he clearly means the same thing all the way through (except when labeled "good" works), he always comes back to mentioning circumcision, so clearly he is contrasting faith and Mosaic law, he never transcends to "any" kind of work or obedience.

    Romans 2:6 to those who persist in doing good works he will give eternal life......2:9 there will be trouble and distress for everyone who does evil

    2:16 this will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ as my Gospel declares

    But, which Gospel?...... the one that Paul says God will judge your works(either good works or evil works)

    Romans 3:27 where then is boasting? on that of observing "works of the law"? 3:28 justified by faith apart from "works of the law"(apart from something you could boast about)

    4:2 If Abraham was justified by "works of the law", he had something to boast about

    (it does not say if Abraham was justified by obedience he had something to boast about) are just assmuming it says that

    4:4 when a man works(works of the law still) vs 4:6 David says same thing..... blessedness of the man whom God credits apart from "works of the law"

    vs 10 under what circumstance was it credited?..... before circumcision......again back to "apart from works of the law"

    vs 12 he is also the father of those who WALK in the footsteps of the faith Abraham had "before" he was circumcised(again apart from works of the law)

    notice Paul says those who "WALK" in the footsteps of faith apart from circumcision (just like in Romans 3:28) faith apart from works of law

    So whom does the Bible say are the justified?, well it says they...........shall live by faith(Rom 1:17).......walk by faith(2 Cor 5:7).......are obedient to the faith(Acts 6:7)....... express faith working in love(Gal 5:6)........actually there is no such thing as faith alone, you either have a faith that COOPERATES with God (produces good works) or you have a dead faith (faith alone) or as Paul says: faith without love is nothing...............

    The best translation of Romans 8:28 is this:............ And we know that in all things God works for good with those(or God "COOPERATES" with those) who love God and are called according to his purpose. This is just the way the original Greek actually reads, but this understanding has been denounced by Calvinists as synergism. The Greek word for (work with) is synergei, and from this word synergism was formed.

    In conclusion, no where does Paul say faith alone or faith apart from obedience, Paul only says faith apart from works of the law. But, he does say it is an active, living, working, continuing, obedient faith.