Originally posted by Big Mac
I can't agree with this.
If people start taking the passages of the Bible out of context, then they could twist them to mean whatever they wanted.
I'm sure that's how you arrived at your idea of a strictly works-based salvation.
The Bible as a whole tells us that salvation is a free gift of God's grace obtained through faith, so that we may participate in good works.
A “free gift” ... “obtained through”? That’s a transaction, not a gift. Or do you mean that faith is the act of accepting the gift?
>> NRS James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone
. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
Now, James is not dispensing with faith. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews (11:31) said: “ By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.” James, however, can be read as context for Paul, as well as the other way around.
Faith is not just “believing” (in the general contemporary sense of assent to a proposition). In the example that genius was responding to, the person had no access to such belief; and genius did say “your faith and your deeds.”
With regard to John 14:6—
>> NRS John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through (Greek: di/dia
In it’s causative usage (as opposed to spatial or temporal usage) dia
can mean by means of, on account of, for the sake of, or on behalf of.
In addition, if the person in Zander’s example acts as genius outlined, he could be considered as acting according to “the way, the truth and the life” in his deeds. In that manner, he is demonstrating faithfulness—not to a creed, but to the divine way, truth and life.
Many scholars also take the Johannine “I am” (ego eimi
) statements of Jesus to reflect his divinity as the pre-existing logos
of God, who is God (John 1:1), and through whom all things were “begotten” (egeneto
—John 1:3). In that way, Jesus is not speaking of himself “after the flesh.”
As the early church father Justin Martyr (d. 165 C.E.) put it—
“Christ is the first-born of God, his Logos, in whom all people share. That is what we have learned and what we bear witness to ... All who have lived in accordance with the Logos are Christians, even if they have been reckoned atheists, as among the Greeks Socrates, Heraclitus and the like.”
The purpose of evangelism is, as Paul said, “the message of reconciliation”—
>> NRS 2nd Corinthians 5:10 For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all
; therefore all
have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation
; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them
, and entrusting the message of reconciliation
to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The message of reconciliation for “all,” is of a reconciliation accomplished by God. Those who are not “in Christ,” for whom everything old has not passed away, are those who choose to believe that such reconciliation for all—including themselves—is not possible. They want reconciliation based on their own merit—whether merit of deeds or merit of faith.
Note, here, however, that even “believers” (“For all of us...” ) receive recompense (or “receive back” ) for their deeds
, good or bad. Justice is included if the recompense is just. But the reconciliation will not be defeated by the wickedness or stubbornness or lack of knowledge of people. The euaggalion
Or, I should say— Either the euaggalion
of God’s reconciling all the world to himself in Christ will be complete, or not. If you are correct that those who never hear the Gospel are excluded—or even if those who die physically while still refusing cannot be reconciled after death—then all the world will not have been reconciled. Scripturally, how you come down on that question depends largely on which texts you use to contextualize others, and how.
Epiphenehas has argued cogently from scripture that I am wrong. It is his view (if I am not mis-interpreting him) that “all” refers only to the “elect,” chosen by God from the beginning. Others view “all” as referring only to those who accept Christ in this life. I view “all” as all
; and that, if the recompense for all can take place after death, so can the reconciliation for all—though perhaps not until after the recompense.