Is faith a condition to obtaining salvation?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by trustitl, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. trustitl

    trustitl
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    At the request of Marcia, I am starting a new topic which will seek to answer: Is faith a condition to obtaining salvation.

    This may seem to be a strange question to some, but it is a foundational doctrine on which most protestant churches stand. John Calvin is most commonly referred to when this subject comes up. The following is a statement from his Institutes of the Christian Religion and is a good summary of what is often referred to as unconditional election: the "U" in Calvinisms TULIP. It argued by its proponents that faith is not a condition for being among the elect of God for GOd's choice of the saved occured before the foundations of the world.


    By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.


    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.v.xxii.html
     
  2. trustitl

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    From Websters 1828 Dictionary:

    CONDITION, n. [L., to build or make, to ordain; properly, to set or fix, or to set together or in order; con and do, to give; properly, to send.]
    6. Terms of a contract or covenant; stipulation;
    7. A clause in a bond, or other contract containing terms or a stipulation that it is to be performed

    STIPULATION, n. [L.]
    2. An agreement or covenant made by one person with another for the performance or forbearance of some act; a contract or bargain;

    http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,condition
     
  3. Marcia

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    I'm glad to see you started a thread so it can be hashed out. I myself do not plan to post much as I've been in this discussion before.

    However, I would say that according to the definitions you posted, it does not seem that faith is a condition. We certainly don't contract with God or make a deal with him in order to be saved.

    Some would also argue that faith is not a condition because it is not performance based. It seems that a condition would be performance based. Having faith in Christ is not like doing good works, saying prayers, acting pious, being moral, or other things that would be considered a work. Therefore, faith is not a condition in that sense.

    There must be faith for salvation, but that does not mean it's a performance based or works based condtion, which is what condition usually implies. I think faith and salvation occur simultaneously, so in that case, faith is also not a condition.
     
  4. DHK

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    A condition infers somethng one "can and do" as your definition states. That is also what a work is--something that is done.
    Faith is belief. Belief is not a work, not something that is "done," but rather believed upon. There is a difference.
    I believe in Christ to save me; I don't work in order for Christ to save me.
    My salvation is based on faith and faith alone. The works follow salvation, are not a part of it, nor are required for it.
    Therefore salvation is unconditional.
    It is a free gift. It requires no work. By faith, I simply receive it, as a child receives a gift from her parent.
     
  5. Andre

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    Romans 2 states that "good works" are indeed the grounds on which eternal life is granted at the coming judgement:

    But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God "will give to each person according to what he has done."[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
    12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

    Many in the reformed tradition hide from Romans 2. But it is quite clear. We have to accomodate its clear teaching of final judgement according to works into our theology.
     
  6. carpro

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    The omniscience of God should not be confused with predestination.

    The Bible is absolutely totally clear. Faith through grace is the only condition for salvation.

    Some even believe that they can work they way to heaven , even without faith. Their names will be left out of the book of life.
     
    #6 carpro, Jul 21, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2008
  7. trustitl

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    Looking at Romans 4, it is clear that the two "conditions" required for salvation are 1. believing and 2. not working.

    Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
     
  8. Andre

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    What is your explanation for the Romans 2 text which, at a literal reading anyway, states no less than 3 times that eternal life will be granted based on the deeds one performs?
     
  9. trustitl

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    You are right that Romans 2 gives a way to salvation by works. If you want to go with that plan go ahead - you will never measure up. I will take the free gift offered in Christ.
     
  10. readmore

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    Romans 2 can't be reduced to an individual "sound byte" to prove salvation by works. It is part of a larger argument that Paul is making, almost as a hypothetical situation, saying, "Sure, being a good person would get you to heaven, unfortunately there's no such thing as a 'good person'." To get the full argument, you need to continue reading Romans 3, of which here is an excerpt, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (3:20).
     
  11. Andre

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    Romans 2 is indeed part of a larger argument. But Paul means what he says in Romans 2 - those who are justified at the end are justified by the works their lives manifest. If you believe that this is not so, then you have Paul saying - no less than 3 times mind you - that there are some who will be justified by works at the end and yet meaning precisely the opposite - that there will be zero such persons.

    No clear thinking person would believe that zero persons are justified by their works and yet write the following:

    5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God "will give to each person according to what he has done."[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism. 12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

    This text is clear, direct, and unambiguous. Paul says every person will be judged by what they do. And those who do good get eternal life. We get no clue at all that he is "just kidding" about the works-justification stuff - you need to read that in.

    Someone posted Romans 3:20 as if that text shows that we cannot take Romans 2 at its face value. Here is Romans 3:20

    20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

    What is the "law". It is the Torah - the Law of Moses. And indeed no one is justified by following the Torah. But the Torah is not the same thing as the category of "good works'. The Torah is the ethnic charter of the Jews that demarcated them from their pagan neighbours.

    In Romans 3, as elsewhere in Romans, Paul is not denying justification by works - since he affirms this very thing in Romans 2. He is denying justification by "being a Jew" by following the ethnic charter of Israel.

    We do not need to have Paul, in Romans 2, making the absurd statement that there be a set of persons justified by their good works, and yet there are precisely zero persons in that set.
     
  12. Andre

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    There is no evidence at all in the text leading up to the description of the Romans 2 judgement to suggest that Paul is speaking hypothetically in that Romans 2 description of justification by works. If there were compelling evidence later in the chapter that it was impossible for anyone to meet that standard, then perhaps that argument could work.

    But there is no such evidence. People read stuff later in Romans about how "law" and "works" cannot justify and they assume that by "law" and "works" Paul is referring to "good works". If that were really so, then perhaps Paul is indeed (in Romans 2) describing a path to justification that zero persons will take, even though this makes Paul into a very misleading and confusing writer.

    But, for Paul, "law" means Torah - the ethnic charter of the Jews. And when he refers to "works", he is referring to the "works of Torah", not "good works" generally.

    I invite posters to raise any text from Romans that they think denies that we are justified by "good works" and I will attempt to respond.
     
  13. DHK

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    This is the very thing that you ignore. It is the reason that you have a hard time understanding the passage. Paul is not addressing the Gentiles. Read a bit farther into the passage and it becomes even clearer:

    Romans 2:17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

    Thou art called a Jew. That does not include me. The second chapter of Romans was addressed to unsaved Jews.
     
  14. Andre

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    It is true that in part of Romans 2, Paul specifically addresses Jews. But in the text I am referring to, he is clearly stating what is true for both Jew and Gentile. So when he makes statements about being saved by "good deeds" in the following material, he cannot be talking about Torah:

    God "will give to each person according to what he has done."[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
    12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

    I am not entirely sure what your point is. However, the judgement described above is clearly not limited to Jews. There are lots of things one could say here, but one thing is clear: there will be a judgement at which every human will appear and be judged on the deeds they have done. Some will get eternal life as a result, others will be condemned.

    There is simply no doubt that both Jew and Gentile will appear at the Romans 2 judgement and be judged. Paul directly states this and repeats it three times.

    Surely you are not saying that in the above text, Paul is talking about a judgement limited to Jews.
     
  15. webdog

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    The bolded is exactly what faith is. God has set the order of salvation, and this order includes faith as a stipulation. We see throughout Scripture God telling man "do this, and I'll do that". He does make contracts with man. He says believe (faith) and be saved. It's most definatly a condition.
     
  16. DHK

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    God says: I give unconditionally.
    What does man do. Simply receive it (by faith).
    In that setting how can faith be a condition? It can't. Man does nothing. He receives. Receiving is not a condition. It does not fit your definition.

    John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
     
  17. DHK

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    I am saying (as I have pointed out quite clearly) that Paul is addressing the Jews.
    Now look at verse one:

    Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

    Who is inexcusable?
    Who is "O man?"
    Who is the one that is "judging" (the Gentile)?
    Who is the one that does the same things (as the Gentiles)?

    Paul is writing to the unsaved Jews, that nation that thought that they could get away with sin, simply because of their national heritage.
     
  18. webdog

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    You said it right there...as many as recieved him. That is the condition. That is what condition means as it is being used. You are playing semantics here.
     
  19. Andre

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    The fact that Paul at times in the letter speaks specifically to the Jew does not change the frankly inarguable fact that in the block from verse 6 to verse 15 he is describing a judgement for both Jew and Gentile. That is my point and it is obviously indisputable - no less than three times does Paul make it explicitly clear that those who will be thus judged include both Jew and Gentile. This is, frankly, beyond debate and I am therefore unsure as to what your point is about how some of the material in chapter 2 is specific to the Jew.

    My argument has been about the verse 6 to 15 block which cannot be taken as descriptive of a judgement at which only Jews will appear. Here it is again. The stuff in bold explicitly shows that Paul sees both Jew and Gentile at this judgement. So, again, I am not sure what your point is. It cannot be that only the Jew will be at this judgement - that is a position that cannot be taken.

    God "will give to each person according to what he has done."[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
    12All who sin apart from the law {***i.e. Gentiles} will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law {***i.e. Jews} will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
     
  20. Marcia

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    Scripture does not contradict scripture and we have more than enough - too many to post here - that contrast faith and works and that tell us that we cannot be saved by works. Rom. 2 was pointing out that only by being perfectly righteous can one have eternal life, but Romans goes on to show that this is impossible. It's the set-up to those who think they can be good enough for God for the fall that allows them to see they are helpless in their sins and cannot save themselves.

    Keep in mind that the bible was not written in chapters; Romans is one book so you have to read the whole thing in context.

     

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