Is Faith Necessary for Salvation?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Baptist_Pastor/Theologian, Nov 12, 2006.

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  1. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

    Baptist_Pastor/Theologian
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    We have had some interesting discussions surrounding Calvinism. In the course of those discussions I have tried to point out that the criticism that Calvinism excludes the non-elect from the possibility of salvation is unfair. It is true that Calvinism teaches that Christ only died for the elect, however, freewill theology suffers from the same problem that Calvinism does: not everyone has an opportunity to receive the gospel. The basic idea in freewill theology is that Christ died for everyone and everyone has an opportunity to believe the gospel. When I have faced this argument in the past I have brought up the fact that not every has an opportunity to believe the gospel because there have been billions of people on the face of this earth who have not had a chance to receive Christ. Today I watched a report on the nation of China and the work of missionaries in that country. The report stated that China has 300 million children under the age of 15. My question for the board is simple: If those 300 million children do not hear the gospel will they die and go to hell based on what the Bible teaches? In other words do you believe it is possible to go to heaven without having faith in Christ?
     
  2. npetreley

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    Corollary question: Given the freewill scenario, if these 300 million children do not hear the Gospel and go to hell, whose fault is it? Is it man's for not getting the Gospel to them? Or is it God's fault because He isn't powerful enough to manipulate the affairs of men such that men can get the Gospel to them?
     
  3. Amy.G

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    Romans 1: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

    If someone has faith in the creator God ( and follows the laws written on their hearts-Rom. 2: 14-15) but never hears of Christ, will God withhold salvation?
     
    #3 Amy.G, Nov 12, 2006
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  4. LeBuick

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    Very interesting question, my personal take comes from what God did once salvation was offered. He had his son go to where the dead were and preach. I know there is discussion as to if Jesus only preached to the Jews who died in the faith, or just from the time of Noah or did he preach to all the dead. I lean toward the latter.

    In like manner, I believe there will be a final offering of salvation. I am not firm if it will be the two witnesses, the angel with the ever lasting gospel to preach or maybe there is more sealed in those seven seals than John could even begin to say. But deep in my heart I believe God has a plan of salvation for every person in his creation.
     
  5. reformedbeliever

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    God would not withold salvation in that case....... but before I say anything else.... they will not follow the laws written on their hearts. They all are guilty of falling short. They can not keep the law, no matter where it comes from. Do you keep all the laws of the society you live in? Never break a speed limit? :saint:
     
  6. Amy.G

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    Even unbelievers can live moral lives(following the laws written on the heart). We're not born with nothing to build on. God has revealed Himself in the most basic way to all of us. And none of us can keep the law, saved or unsaved. That is why we need a savior. I'm not trying to argue with you. This is just something that I've always wondered about. I know from years of reading the Bible that God is just, fair and righteous and there will not be anyone in hell that doesn't deserve to be there.
    :)
     
  7. LeBuick

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    :applause: :applause: :wavey:
     
  8. Snitzelhoff

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    Well, as with many on this board, I don't quite consider myself in either the Calvinist or Arminian "camp," but here is my take on the question at hand:

    In Acts, I can think of two examples wherein a person acted on the truth that he had and God sent someone to supply the rest, to give the Gospel to him--the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius. I believe God is faithful to do that, that He will find a way to bring the Gospel to those who are seeking Him according to the truth they HAVE been given. After all, Hebrews 11:6 tells us tat God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Acts 17:27 would also seem to affirm this principle.

    Moreover, is God not sovereign and omniscient? If He is, then He could arrange the world so that the only ones who never hear are those whom He knows would never respond. Although I can't think of a Scripture that directly affirms that, and so you're free to take it or leave it as you will, it is my opinion that such is what God has, in fact, done.

    Finally, I don't believe it depends on us. God invites us to work with Him in the process of evangelism, but if we defy Him in that, He wil find someone else or another means. So we can choose to obey that call to preach the Gospel or we can choose to deny it, but God's plan is not hindered one bit by our meager choice. He is, after all, God.

    Just my five cents (inflation, you know).

    Michael
     
  9. webdog

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    Bingo. God commands all men everywhere to repent. God supplies the means to have faith in Christ, God will supply the means for the person to hear the Gospel.

    Act 8:39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.
     
    #9 webdog, Nov 12, 2006
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  10. Tom Butler

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    Where do I start?

    First, there is plenty of historical evidence that there were tribes and nations (with some individual exceptions) in ancient times who never heard of Jehovah God. The knowledge of God was limited to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac.

    Fast forward to the 21st century, and you'll still find tribes and individuals who have never heard of God and never heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the earnest belief of some posters here, it is possible that they never will. Nor should we be surprised to learn that right here in America, some don't know of God or the gospel.

    Yet they will be condemned. But on what basis? It can't be unbelief since they've never heard of Jesus.

    We find the answer in Romans 1 and 2. All people have the witness of creation to suggest the existence of a creator. And all people have the law written on their hearts--that is, they know right and wrong. They have a moral code based on the law in their hearts. As Paul said, they are a law unto themselves.

    But their problem is our problem. They can't even live up to their own moral code, and neither can we who heard the gospel and believed.

    So those pagans will not be condemned for a lack of faith in the Christ. They will be condemned for failure to keep their own law. That's why they will have no excuse. They can claim ignorance of the gospel, but they can't claim ignorance of their own law.

    To answer the OP, yes, faith is necessary for salvation, but unbelief is not necessarily the only basis for condemnation.
     
  11. webdog

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    Joh 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
     
  12. LeBuick

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    You are basically saying that if one could live occording the law, they could be saved. This contridicts Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

    I don't believe assuming there is a creator and obeying a moral law in your heart is not enough for salvation. Also, saying some will not receive the goodnews to me places the limitation on God and his Son who promised to draw ALL men and not just those who heard the word. This is why I believe God still has a plan of salvation even if it's not included in the Bible.

    I don't believe we should limit God to only what is written in a book. I know in my heart there is so much more to God than any book could contain. Yes, the Bible is God's word but it is the portion of his word he needed Man to know in order to have a right relation with him and his Son and not a complete snapshot on who God truely is.
     
  13. DHK

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    This is only partly true (according to the Bible). He died for the world. You can't get around John 3:16. At the same time God knew who the elect were before the foundation of the world. It is not that he died just for them; it is that he knew who they were--who they would be that would choose Christ. Christ gave every opportunity for Judas to repent. It was Judas that chose not to. Christ (God) did not force Judas to do anything. Of his own free will he chose to betray Christ. Of his own free will Peter chose to deny Christ even though Christ had foretold the event. Foreknowledge doesn't force a person. Christ knew Peter would do it. Peter chose to deny Christ. He didn't have to curse and swear in front of that maiden.
    How do you know they don't have a chance to hear the gospel. To put it plainly: who put you in the place of God; made you omniscient enough to know these things? It is better to trust God's Word than man's reasoning, don't you think. Here is what God says on that matter:

    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
    --I know what God says, and I am not in a position to argue with Him. I can either accept His Word by faith or choose not to believe Him. It is God that says that He gives every man a chance to believe; not I. My human reasoning may think otherwise, but that is not what God says. There is plenty of Scripture to attest that the heathen have no excuse not to believe in God. There is also plenty of Scripture to attest that if they believe in the light that they have that God will send them more light. Romans chapter one is very enlightening.
    There is only 6 billion on the earth. So how do you know your statistics are right? Furthermore, there are other factors to consider. When someone makes a statement like that I often reply: If you are that concerned (and you ought to be), then do something about it. Give your life to the Lord, be a missionary. Go to the most needy place on the earth--perhaps a place that no one has been to--or that the fewest people have gone to--and labor, pray, minister to those that are there, that they may have that chance that you are speaking of.
    Secondly, if there are so many without Christ, then it is the fault of Christians disobeying Christ--the Great Commission. The world can be won to Christ in less than 33 days if every Christian would disciple just one person each day--and in turn the person they discipled would do the same. Do the math.
    Children are in the hands of God. God is a merciful God. When it comes to an age of accountability--that is a very controversial subject. Some use the precedent that those who could not enter the promised land were those over the age of 20 (perhaps the age of accoutability in God's sight--especially in a nation that doesn't hear the gospel as we do).
    On the other hand I have recently seen a video on China that shows how the persecution of believers in China has made one of the largest and strongest undergound churches in the world. It is possible that the Christians in China may out number those in Canada--perhaps even in America. There is revival in China. We just can't see it. Believers flourish in jails (when they are found out). Churches grow through persecution. And there is much of that in China. Don't underestimate the power of God.
    Salvation is by faith.
    DHK
     
  14. skypair

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    Bible Pastor,

    There are several "incomprehensibles" in your OP.

    Rom 1 tells us that EVERYONE but infants hears enough of the "gospel" to be saved -- to be "without excuse." Your error is in your insistence that they hear the gospel that YOU heard. God, contrariwise, has justified many by an OT gospel and by a "natural" gospel. They will be resurrected to see Christ and receive His gospel in the postrib "resurrection of the just." What was the OT and "natural" gospel? "Repent of self and trust God." What is our gospel? "Repent of self and trust Christ." Water and blood -- but different blood. See the difference?

    No. Children are "justified" according to innocence. It is error to ascribe sin to infants per Ezek 18:20! "Sin nature" is like unto temptation -- it is NOT sin itself. It require comprehension and action before there is sin as it also does to receive salvation. An infant who dies goes to heaven and his body will be resurrected with the OT saints and given the opportunity to receive Christ on his own (see Isa 49:20-23).

    Yes. In the OT, that was the ONLY way. In the NT, it is possible to trust God that reveals Himself to all. The "statue to the unknown God" that Paul refers to is a prime example. The plague that was stayed by this unknown God was actually stayed by God whom these people offered a blood sacrifice to and then erected a statue to.

    From this it may be seen that Calvinism is myopic in the extreme! It does NOT consider the process of salvation before Christ to be any different despite Christ hadn't made the sacrifice. Further, it either condemns infants or baptizes them into "election"/justification, neither of which is scriptural.

    I realize this will raise questions and eyebrows. I'm free will and open to examination. Just thought I might be able to help you out.

    skypair
     
    #14 skypair, Nov 13, 2006
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  15. skypair

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    Good point!

    You are right. This is something Calvinism cannot admit but God, since Adam, has put awareness of Himself into our SOULS. When Adam fell, he didn't gain a conscience, per se. He gained an awareness of self that he had never had before -- he now knew good AND EVIL/selfishness.

    The SOUL in every mentally capable man is the seat of conscience. It is where we are convicted of sin because that is where we compare ourselves with God. And it is ONLY be acknowledging and surrendering to the God of our soul/conscience that we can be JUSTIFIED -- the 1st stage of salvation.

    Why is life "eternal" after our soul/consciences are oriented toward God and away from self? Because God has promised that we will ALWAYS have consciousness of Him and His righteousness and when we do sin, we will want to reconcile our sins with His righteousness through confession and repentance. This is what Paul calls a "pure conscience towards God and men."

    Stage 2, sanctification, is accomplished in our spirits (our mind, emotions, and will). ONLY NT saints have accomplished this so far. Again, Calvinists don't even attempt to distinguish these things.

    skypair
     
  16. russell55

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    If some one lives according to the law, then they don't need salvation. They would merit eternal life by their righteousness.

    That, by the way, is the reason Christ could be the Saviour. He merited eternal life by his perfect righteousness, and so he didn't need to be saved; therefore, his death could be counted as our own death, and as the just deserts for our sin, instead of being his own death as just deserts for his sin.

    Jesus didn't need a Saviour, and neither would any other human being who was perfectly righteous. Of course, no one, save Jesus, keeps the law perfectly ("All have sinned"), so we all need to be saved.

    It's only placing a limitation on God if the statement is not something God has revealed. If God has said that about the way he works, then making the statement is not limiting God, but letting God be God.

    Paul tells us in Romans 10 that people only receive the good news through the words of a preacher, and unless they know the contents of the good news, it is impossible for them to believe and be saved. Those are rhetorical questions Paul asks in that passage, and they are set up in a way that the implied answer is "They can't." Paul is telling us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is revealing the way God works, that the only hope for people--at least for people who are mentally able to understand the content of the gospel--to be saved is through a belief that can only come through a human person sharing the content of the gospel. And standing firmly on those words from Paul is not limiting God, it is believing him.
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    Oh my, we're all over the map on this one:

    To clarify my position, there is another way to heaven. Just keep the law perfectly and you're in.

    The problem is, we can't.

    So it is with the person who's never neard the gospel. His condemnation is not that he didn't believe in Jesus. He can't be held responsible for rejecting a Jesus he didn't even know existed. His condemnation is that he couldn't even keep the law written in his heart--that he is a sinner by his own standards.

    Skypair said Romans 1 says everyone except infants has heard "enough" of the gospel to be saved. Sorry, but it doesn't. It speaks of creation pointing to a Creator. It says that even when they knew about God, they rejected Him. An instinctive awareness of God, yes. An awareness of Jesus and the gospel? No. That's the reason for evangelism and missions. Paul, in Romans 10, asked the rhetorical question: How can they believe on one of whom they've never heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher.

    Skypair and LeBuick suggest that there's another plan of salvation for those who've never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are aware, of course, that Paul warned that anybody who preached a different gospel is preaching no gospel at all, and pronounced a curse on those who do. He was referring to the Judaizers, who sought to impose the OT law onto the gospel.

    Skypair also said: In the NT, it is possible to trust God that reveals Himself to all. The "statue to the unknown God" that Paul refers to is a prime example.

    Two problems: I, the Athenians didn't trust the unknown God. 2. It was no benefit to them until Paul preached about this God and the resurrected Christ.

    I do agree with LeBuick--of those pagan will follow the light that they have, God will give them more light.

    This desperate insistence that every human being has heard enough of the gospel to be saved--or, if not, God must have provided another way--is leading into some dangerous territory, I fear.
     
    #17 Tom Butler, Nov 13, 2006
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  18. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    I want to thank each of you for your input. However, some of you in here suffer for great misgivings about the nature of salvation. The OT is the same as the NT when it comes to salvation. God is the same yesterday today and forever. The only thing different from the OT and the NT is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Hebrews 11 makes it plain that anyone who has ever been made right before God has done so by faith. Faith saved the OT saints and a lack of faith condemned them.

    For some of you here to suggest that God uses extra biblical means to save people is very troubling. [demeaning language removed]


    This has no bearing on my discussion. For one I am not arguing the the extent of the atonement. I am arguing the availability of the atonement. If you hold to a general atonement view, and a evangelical hermeneutic of Scripture you will not confuse these two issues. It is possible that Christ died for everyone but not everyone gets to benefit from the atonement due to a lack of faith. That is total aside from limited atonement and that is why I have argued that Calvinist who hold to limited atonement and freewill theologians who argue for general atonement are not that far off when it comes to the application of the atonement. In principle they both believe that only the elect receive benefit of the atonement. So save your diatribe on the the extent of the atonement and take note the real issue here which is that availability of the atonement.

    You cannot get around Romans 10, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God... How can they know unless someone tells them?"
    [demeaning language removed]

    You are basic misrepresenting Scripture. When it says "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" as you put it, that by no means suggests that all people at all times have been given special revelation. [personal attacks removed]
    When the word all men is used it like refers to all nations of men, and not every man at every time. You are read what you want the word all to mean. Your view also contradicts other Scripture which a sound hermeneutic will not do. Romans 10 is hard to get around, "Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God... How can the believe what they have not heard... How can they hear unless someone tells them." The basis for international missions is that the hundreds of millions of people in other nations will die and go to hell unless they hear and believe the gospel. What you suggest is that there is no need to preach to the nations because God is able to without you and I. What is ironic is that you are taking a hyper-Calvinism view that William Carey faced prior to his missionary journey to India. I would reply to your view with his words, "God may save the heathen without you but he will not save the heathen without me." It is God who has chosen the foolishness of preaching to reach the lost. It is God who has established that unless by faith your receive the Word of God that has been preached to you, then you will perish. Your issue is not with my arrogance but with God's system.
     
    #18 Baptist_Pastor/Theologian, Nov 13, 2006
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  19. l_PETE_l

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    Children can accept/reject Christ after death? Never heard that at Bellevue
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    Oh, by the way.

    If it is possible that God has provided another way of salvation for those who've never heard of Jesus and the gospel, for heaven's sake, let's don't send missionaries to them. If they hear the gospel and reject it, their doom is sealed. Let's just leave them alone.
     
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