Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is "One saved always saved" correct?

The following is in response to a post at the The Christian Diarist  blog entitled, Does the Bible Teach ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’?   This was in response to a sermon that he heard which taught that even if a Christian renounced the faith - in this case declaring himself an atheist - yet he  is secure for all eternity since he one time gave his life to the Lord.

I concur with the Christian Diarist and myself disagree with that position, often called OSAS (once saved, always saved)  but I had trouble posting my responses there (but which needed editing anyway), and  my first post here sets down what I see regarding this issue overall, while a   second post I hope to finish will be in response to a poster who argued for the OSAS position.

The issue of OSAS (once saved, always saved) also pertains to the "Lordship salvation" controversy, and let it first be said that it is clear that a believer is justified by faith and not on the basis of works, (Eph. 2:8,9) as if he could earn eternal life, for what we actually earn are the wages of sin, that being the second death. (Rm. 6:23; Rv. 20:11-15) Instead, the sinner is reconciled to God on God/Christ's expense and credit, by His sinless shed blood and righteousness. (Rm. 3:25 - 5:1)

However, while faith appropriates justification - for God justifies the UnGodly by faith (Rm. 4:5) - yet it is abundantly manifest in Scripture that the kind of faith that justifies is one that effects characteristic obedience towards its Object, the Divine "Lord" Jesus whom the contrite sinner calls upon in conversion (Rm. 10:13) and in whose name he is baptized, (Acts 2:38) for he walks "in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham," in newness of life. (Rm. 4:12; 6:4)

And while "a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rm. 3:27)  yet as the nature of justifying faith is one that confesses Christ (Rm. 10:10) in manifold ways (which justifies one as having true faith), therefore it is written that "not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified," (Romans 2:13) as faith works to fulfill the righteousness of the law by yielding to the Spirit who inspired its writing. (Rm. 8:4) And it is abundantly evidenced that Scripture is the supreme transcendent material standard for obedience and testing truth claims.

Believers thus show forth works which correspond to “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Acts 20:21; 26:20), especially a unique sacrificial love for the brethren, manifesting, as it is written, "things that accompany salvation...For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." (Hebrews 6:9-10)

Therefore "just Lot" (2Pt. 2:7) — while not being as Abraham in character and spiritual maturity and often invoked as a carnal believer — immediately opened his house to holy men, and risked his life for the brethren, and managed to maintain 2 daughters and marry the rest in a city given to fornication, and which grieved him, and sought the Lord. Me thinks few believers today do or would as much. 
Note that in conversion one is not believing on the Lord Jesus Christ apart from who He is, as repentance is implicit in believing on the Lord Jesus to save you from your sins, and which  shows Christ to be Good and sin to be evil, and in conversion one is basically choosing light over darkness. (Jn. 3:19-21)

However, the degree of change resulting from conversion is according to light and grace received, (Lk. 12:48) which relates to both conscience and character and the depth of conversion.

Thus there are two extremes to be avoided in gospel preaching, that of requiring the candidate to quit all sin in order to come to Christ, while the other extreme fosters conversions that do not result in manifest overall change, as their labor tends towards coaxing sinners into saying a "sinner's prayer” out of intellectual assent. If conversion was treated like marriage, the latter school would be like a father coaxing a man to assent to marry his daughter out of self interest, when he actually shows little interest in her or heart desire for what marriage offers.

It is argued by those who engage in this type of evangelism that it is presumptuous for us to claim to know the heart of another, but the Scripture states that the spiritual man has discernment, (1Cor. 2:15) which we hope all to have in both marriage and conversion. Biblical evangelism requires labor as Holy Spirit instruments of conviction “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, (Jn 16:8) as we see Peter and Paul doing in Acts, and which resulted in a basic repentance of faith in the Lord Jesus, thus effecting corresponding changes in heart and life. And or persecution!

As faith, confidence, trust, is manifest in changes in heart and deeds, (Ja. 2:18) and those who are given eternal life are those who characteristically follow the Lord, (Jn. 10:27, thus the famous assurance verse, 1Jn. 5:13, refers to what was written before it, that of overall characteristics which manifest conversion, in which ongoing, willful impenitent committing of known sin is contrary to salvific faith, and instead practicing righteousness is the norm for a believer. And which includes repentance when convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin. (2Cor. 7:6-11) Thus, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. " (1 John 1:8-9)

King David committed great sins (which were were easy for him to do in his position), but upon being fingered by the Holy Ghost he immediately confessed that he had sinned, and found forgiveness thereby, though not escape from all its chastising consequences. (2Sam. 12:1-14ff)

Having seen that faith appropriates justification, and that salvific faith is that which effects characteristic obedience towards its Object, let us consider that warnings are given of converts denying the faith, and in the end forfeiting what faith obtained. 1Tim. 5:8 expressly states that a believer who fails to provide his families real needs (presuming ability) has “denied the faith,” and Gal. 5:1-4 — clearly speaking to believers who had the Spirit, (Gal. 4:6) and who set at liberty — warns them against submitting to justification based on keeping all the law under Judaism, versus fulfilling its righteousness as a result of justification by faith. (Rm. 8:4) By such submission to Judaism these converts would be making Christ of "none effect," and "fallen from grace."

Likewise, as believers we are also told in Hebrews that we are part of the house of Christ "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." As rather than having "an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God," and being "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin," (Heb. 3:6,12,14) drawing "back unto perdition" by willful impenitent sinning, and dissociating with the (persecuted) church, (Hebrews 10:25,26,38) we must "hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end," (Heb. 3:14) that being the actual realization of "the salvation of the soul," for our confidence "hath great recompence of reward." (Hebrews 10:35,39)

And this is why we have such statements that seem to teach salvation by works, such as Mt. 25:34-40) but which is actually the Lord rewarding faith manifested in works. Thus peacemakers shall be called the children of God, (Mt. 5:9) and like statements, not because their works make them objectively morally deserving of salvation (rather than damnation because of their sins), but because being meek, showing mercy, making peace, etc. are characteristics of the elect of God.

This is also why we read that women “shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety,” (1Tim. 2:15) meaning by a faith that is faithful in their normal vocation (though not necessarily childbearing) in love and charity, versus rebelliousness. For we are saved by a faith that follows the Lamb of God, and which will be rewarded.

In addition, what is also contrary to the idea that any kind of faith is salvific, and remains so regardless if they impenitently continue walk in known sin, is the reality is that God chastens believers so that they will "not be judged with the rest of the world." (1Cor. 11:32)

The idea that God rewards such impenitence by “taking them home” without repentance, as OSAS advocates argue such as in the situation 1Cor. 5 deals with, is absurd, as instead the Lord's chastening of such is to effect godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation, as was the case of 1Cor. 5 (2Cor. 2:6-8; 7:9-11)

And herein is part of the confidence that a believer is to have, that not only are we saved by a effectual kind of faith, but that God is able to keep us in the faith, as "judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it." (Psalms 94:15) Yet, as in conversion, this entails a response worked by God on our part, but it is still a choice believers are given.

In summation, as I see it, we are saved by faith in the risen Lord Jesus, and which Scripture reveals as being a faith that effects the "obedience of faith," (Rm. 16:26) as a characteristic, which includes repentance when convicted of sin. And thus Scripture warns of believers forsaking the faith by impenitent moral sins and or critical doctrinal ones, while also showing that God plays for “keeps,” so that if there is a final forfeiting of that which faith procured, it is done in resistance, despite God working to bring one to repentance, which working is such places as in most of the letters to the churches in Rev. 2+3.

The following is the rest of my response to a defense of OSAS, though it does not place Templeton in the camp of the elect but relegates him to never having been regenerated. However I deal with both here in arguing that Scripture warns of converts denying the faith and forfeiting what faith appropriated if they die unrepentant.

I will preface my response here by reiterating that true faith in any moral authority effects a corresponding change, and rather than giving assurance based on profession, the “things which accompany salvation,” (Heb. 5:9) and which things 1Jn 5:13 refers to in more depth, negates the idea of salvation based upon a faith in the Lord Jesus which overall denies Him otherwise, while these evidences provide assurance based on the Lord's overall effectual working of love and holiness in one's heart and life.

There are extremes here, with one end asserting a believer does not sin, misunderstanding verbs in such places as 1Jn. 3 as being absolute rather than denoting characteristic practices, and such sinless perfection advocates also usually relegate 1Jn. 1:8,9 as referring to unbelievers, but what “doeth righteousness” and “sinneth not” describe are the overall characteristics of a believer, and which also includes confessing sin as per 1Jn. 1:9, and which characteristics provides assurance that has real faith, and thus one possesses eternal life, versus one who may profess but is walking in darkness. This is more fully explained in my comments that follow.

Yet with your conclusion we can become unsaved by works or the lack thereof.”

Not any more than that believers are saved by works when the Lord rewards them with eternal life in response to their works, as in Mt. 25:34-40. But this a case of God, as an act of grace, recompensing faith (“which hath great recompence of reward:” Heb. 10:35) that is manifest by works, though in reality we really deserve damnation, and thus appropriate justification by faith in the Lord Jesus, on His account. But which faith is evidenced as salvific by what it effects, that of works which correspond to repentance. Likewise that one has denied the faith is manifest by a negative confession, and forfeits what faith appropriates, making Christ “of no effect,” falling “from grace,” (Gal. 5:4) “departing from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12)

Paul knew the “election of God” of the Thessalonians, for they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. ” (1Thes. 1:4,9) And likewise Paul knew a convert was denying the faith by acting worse than an infidel, (1Tim. 5:8) or if converts yielded to a different gospel, (Gal. 5:1-4) or continued willfully in sin, drawing back in faith and separating from the brethren. (Heb. 10:25-39)

Again, one is justified by faith, and the just live by faith, but not a faith that is inert, but like Abraham, it is characterized by obedience, and faith is denied by knowingly continuing impenitently in sin. A believer may have some kind of besetting sin, (Heb. 12:1) even if just a short temper (and it is evdent that there are degrees of sin, though all are sins), but he longs to be free from sin, and whom God will work in to effect overcoming, insomuch as they choose to cooperate. J. C. Ryle describes well the heart of a believer in “Are you born again?” 
Thus the practically unrighteous, such as who are characterized by practicing drunkenness, theft, etc. will not inherit the kingdom of God, and which true believers were (past tense). (1Cor. 6:9-11) And separating oneself from such was a requirement for God being their Father, (2Cor. 6:14-18)

However, the OSAS position at issue teaches that these exclusions do not apply to impenitent Christian practitioners of adulterers, etc. The Calvinistic OSAS will deny such were ever saved, even if they treated them a brethren for decades in view of manifest fruits of regeneration.

at what point do we lose that salvation? Where is that absolute line.”

The Scriptures teach that such converts as describe above have denied the faith, but that one has definitely denied the Lord Jesus in rejecting what he once believed is not always clear in every case any more than it always is clear in every case that one truly has been converted. But as Scripture shows that a believer is known by what he characteristically manifests, likewise it describes those who have denied the faith as manifesting the contrary. 
And thus Paul required believers to examine their lives as to whether they “be in the faith,” saying, “prove your own selves.” (2Cor. 13:5)

David could sin, but he repented when convicted — this being a characteristic of a believer — while if he becomes “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin," and walks after an “evil heart of unbelief,” willfully and impenitently sinning after conviction, then he would be drawing "back unto perdition." (Heb. 3:; 10:19-38)

Remember what Paul said? We are–Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:”

Indeed, but as shown, Paul knew the Thessalonians were elect due to their faith being shown in works, while Paul also stated that if the persecuted Thessalonians, after “having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost,” (1Thes. 1:6) were “moved by these afflictions” and had given into temptation to deny the Lord, then his labour would have been “in vain.” (1Thes. 3:5)

Can God go back through his declaration of Salvation and the Sealing to “unsave” us.”

Again, God's declaration of salvation is contingent upon Abrahamic faith in the Lord Jesus, justifying one in heart, not because one deserves it because is righteous (as what we actually “earn” is damnation), yet this Abrahamic faith is manifest as being salvific by what it effects, “things which accompany salvation,” which Abraham evidenced. Conversely, denying faith by formally or effectually renouncing the Lord Jesus, as i have described, forfeits what faith appropriated.

The “seal” is that of the sanctifying Holy Spirit, and which confirms that the sealed are under the ownership and power of another, (cf. Rom.15:27-28) that being God. And which adoption is by faith, and as we are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation,” (1Pt. 1:5) so once again it is the manner of faith one has that is the issue, as casting off faith makes Christ of “no effect,” fallen from grace, forfeiting what is obtained. Also, the idea that a seal must be permanent is not accurate. (Mat. 27:66; Rv. 20:3)

God is the one that sets the seal upon believers, but believers can have the Holy Spirit and yet be in danger of denying the Lord, such as the Galatians were in danger of doctrinally doing. While a convert can become reprobate, as it seems Templeton is, yet i would hold that as long as we can repent then we still have the Holy Spirit, even if grieving Him, thus there is no becoming “born again, again.”

Of whom are we speaking here? Jesus. Jesus is able to keep us from falling.”

Indeed He can, thank God, as “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25
But as one must turn to the Lord in conversion, by God's grace, so one must choose to continue in that grace through faith, and thus there are at lot of “ifs” in the Bible, including, "But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," (Hebrews 3:6, cf. v. 14) in contrast to drawing back unto perdition. (Heb. 10:38,39)

Another verse to consider is: Joh 10:29..”

However, note what kind of believer this applies to: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me," (John 10:27) but the version of OSAS at issue here denies that, and calls souls “sheep” even though they spurn God's voice and run with the wolves. 
As for not being able to be taken from God's hands, this refers to no one being able to remove His sheep who chose to be in His hand by faith, as they are “kept by the power of God through faith,” but which keeping not disallow souls choosing to deny the faith which placed them in keeping, as Templeton has and the Galatians would be doing in submitting to Judaism.

I respectfully submit the following: 1Co 5:5..”The Greek means to annihilate. His life on earth would be know more. He also attests that his spirit would be saved.”

That is manifestly an incorrect interpretation. Paul is not killing him so he can go to glory, and instead he actually proceeds to teach the Corinthians that such are excluded from the Kingdom of God. (1Cor. 6:9-11; 2Cor. 6:14-18), Rather than essentially rewarding the incestuous man by sending him to be with the Lord, Paul's purpose was to effect repentance, which chastisement does if one responds positively, (Heb. 12) and which apparently was accomplished. (1Cor. 2:6-11) "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word." (Psalms 119:67)

It also mentions that liars and gossipers would not enter also. I have lied and gossiped. you might say oh, that’s for chronic liars… How chronic? If you rob one bank you are a bank robber and if you say one lie you are a liar.”

The difference is between those who show “patient continuance in well doing,” (Rm. 2:7) and characteristically manifest things which accompany salvation, bearing fruits of the Spirit, (Gal. 5:22-23) and repenting when they realize they have sinned, versus those who manifestly deny the faith, drawing back from living by faith, “departing from the living God,” (Heb. 3:12) by choosing a different gospel and or sinning impenitently and willfully, such as those who work abomination, and love lies and make them as a practice. (Rv. 21:27; 22:15)

We are separated only because of that one act of disobedience.”

But eternal damnation is based on how men acted out their sinful nature in resisting conscience and forms of God's grace, (Rv. 20:11-15; Lk. 12:45-48) — and the lost can at some point resist sin (Gn. 4:7) — but I do not see the lost being condemned because they had an Adamic nature, as if they were culpable for that.

We all sin and if their is a point where we lose that salvation, I think God would tell us, warn us as to not cross that line.”

He does, as shown, first by qualifying what manner of faith is salvific, with “things which accompany salvation,” (Heb. 6:9) and revealing what characterized saved souls in contrast to the lost, and then excluding converts such as assent to a false gospel and or willfully and impenitently practice sin, as described (contra 1Jn. 1:7-10). And which general “line” is seen in teaching believers that we are of the house of Christ “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end,” and are “made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end,” and by warning us against casting “away your confidence” and drawing back “unto perdition,” with “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God,” and “making Christ of none effect,” falling “from grace.” (Heb,. 3:6-14; 10:35,39, Gal, 5:1-4)

We used to joke about those who believed they could lose their salvation and then regain it by repenting. We would say they were “Born again , again.”

As long as we can repent then we still have the Holy Spirit, even if grieving Him. Thus there is no becoming born again, again, as would be if believers lost the Holy Spirit and were born again. Those who repent from backsliding have not lost the Spirit and regained Him, but by repentance they have yielded to the grieved Spirit living within them. 
If souls who had been born again die in final apostasy then they will have done so after having terminally grieved the Spirit. Such a one has “counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace,” (Heb. 10:29) and “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins,” as a result of not working to make their “calling and election sure” by growing in grace so that they “shall never fall.” (2Pt. 1:9,10)

And like those who rejected the prepared feast to which they were graciously invited, (Mt. 22:1-7) this does not impugn upon the ability of the King, but renders those who spurn “so great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) to be worthy of “greater damnation” (Lk. 20:47) than lost sinners who had not as much light and grace. (Lk. 12:42-48)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Does Catholicism teach that non-Christians can be saved?

As a former RC (Roman Catholic), who was born again while still a Catholic and know from doctrine and experience, i would like to say that the real question is how many Catholics will go to Heaven.

The assertion that in Heaven all are Catholic is absurd. Believing on the risen Lord Jesus Christ by His sinless shed blood to saved you as a damned and destitute sinner is what saves, rather than partly trusting in a church or one's own merit. True faith effects obedience, including being part of a church, but the gospel of Catholicism is one that largely preaches itself, and fosters faith in its power and one's own goodness to save them.

As for what they believe, this is open to some interpretation, as is most of what Catholics believe and practice, despite claims to the contrary.

And by "Catholic" i presume that you mean Roman Catholics, for while they are in "communion" with the Orthodox (and other "Catholic"churches), they both claim to be the One True Church in particular, and differ in not less a substantial issue as papal supremacy and infallibility.

On this issue the historical position of Roman Catholicism has leaned strongly toward excluding all who were not in formal communion with her:

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam:
We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” — Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (Promulgated November 18, 1302) http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/b8-unam.html

St. Thomas Aquinas: It is also shown that to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation. St. Thomas Aquinas, Against the Errors of the Greeks, Pt. 2, ch. 36 http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraErrGraecorum.htm#b38

that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino, Bull promulgated on February 4, 1441 (Florentine style), proclaimed “ex cathedra” (infallible).

The Holy Catholic Church teaches that God cannot be adored except within her fold; she affirms that all those who are separated from her will not be saved. (Pope St. Gregory the Great, “Moralia,” XIV:5)

However, Rome has infallibly decreed that she is infallible (conditionally) and cannot change, and can define what she meant as needed.

Thus the RC Catechism (RCC: 846) states, How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?[335] Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:…Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.[336]

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

The "through no fault of their own" clause is what is debated among Catholics, as Rome has not definitively clarified her ambiguity as to whether it excludes such souls as Protestants who known of the claims of Rome but "through no fault of their own" believe such Catholic claims are unwarranted, but these Protestants obey the light they have, or if it only refers to those who are ignorant of the claims of Rome, but obey the light they have.

In addition, even the second condition is open to interpretation as to whether it means that such will come to accept the Catholic church as a consequence of obeying the light they have, or whether those "through no fault of their own" who are ignorant of the Catholic church, or the gospel of salvation, can be saved.

The latter encounters a further problem in that Scripture indicates that outside souls who are not mature enough to make moral choices, (Is. 7:15,16) ignorance of truth is our fault, and that by obeying the truth we have then we will come to the Truth of salvation.(Mt. 13:11,12; Rm. 2:7; Acts 10)

In favor of Protestants being able to saved who know the claims of Rome but reject them in good conscience are the words of Vatican Two (which Traditional Catholics impugn or reject as being hijacked by liberals),

LUMEN GENTIUM: 16; The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (Cf. Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15-16 and 26)

For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (Cf. Jn. 16:13) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities.

They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood..

[Note: Rome does not refer to Protestant church as churches but "ecclesiastical communities," while she herself is guilty of shedding their blood because they obeyed in conscience toward God they obeyed light of Scripture.And the fact that Rome stipulate baptism evidences that it is not merely affirming salvation by obeying the limited light one has, but that she recognizes that Prots can be saved by believing the gospel and which saving faith is expressed in baptism, and which regeneration can take place before the person knows of or joins a church as seen in Acts 8, 10, etc.]

LUMEN GENTIUM continues,

But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.

This portion in particular is troubling because it affirms Allah is the God of Abraham, which is blasphemous, as they are manifestly not the same. Nor is this the case of worshiping an unknown God as in Acts 17:23, but is a case of "identity theft" by Islam.

In addition is the inference that Muslims etc. can be saved apart from believing the gospel Christ in this life, due to ignorance thru no fault of their own and acting in good conscience, which many Prots wrestle with as well, (see Rm. 2) though it is clear that "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. " (Acts 4:12)