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Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Jude, Jul 25, 2004.
Just what is 'saving faith'? How can one know s/he has 'saving faith'?
Just what is 'saving faith'?
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
Luther's Explanation to the 2nd Article
How can one know s/he has 'saving faith'?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life.
Luther's Explanation to the 3rd Article
What is 'Saving Faith' - Simple Answer:
How does one know if they have it? - Simple Answer: Live it to or until death.
If you don't believe it enough to live it in front of others, especially ones that disagree, or would disdain, or persecute you... You ain't got it...
It appears at the start of Matt 16 that Peter has "saving faith" -- Christ even blesses him for it.
But then Christ calls Peter "Satan" in Matt 16 right after that.
So, I guess Christ didn't know what he was talking about.
"Just what is saving faith?" Maybe this is an oversimplification, but I recently heard a pastor say that "there is 18 inches between superficial faith and saving faith". In other words
Oops! Let's try that again!
"Just what is saving faith?" Maybe this is an oversimplification, but I recently heard a pastor say that "there is 18 inches between superficial faith and saving faith". In other words, lots of people have "head knowledge" about Jesus, but "heart knowledge" is what you must have for saving faith. Saving faith means that you live your faith by obedience to God, and in the way you handle your relationships, your job, your financial matters, etc. Saving faith affects the way you live every part of your life.
According to Heb 11 there were a lot of people saved - in the OT that did not know that the Messiah was "God the Son".
In Matt 16 Peter affirms that Christ is the Messiah - but in his subsequent statement that Jesus was wrong to speak of death at the hands of the jews - Christ calls him Satan.
In other words - saving truth was believing all that the Holy Spirit had revealed EVEN if that did not include "the Messiah is God the Son".
It is TRUE that we MUST believe, we MUST have faith! HOWEVER... the Bible teaches that we will PROVE that we have genuine belief, genuine faith... BY OUR WORKS!
Jms:2:14: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Jms:2:17: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jms:2:18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Jms:2:20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Now NOTICE who is it that will come forth from the graves to everlasting life... is it they who profess to "Believe" in Jesus? No, read carefully...
24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
25: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26: For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27: And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28: Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29: And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Simply put, it is not they who "prefess" to know and love Jesus that come forth unto life, but it is they who DO GOOD. It seems that Satan has done all he could to give the term "good works" an bad name because he well knows that the Scriptures teach us that faith without works means NOTHING in the eyes of God, just as refraining from sin from the motive of trying to earn merit means absolutely NOTHING in the eyes of God. We must love God and have genuine faith that works from the motive of love to God and to our fellow man.
1Jn:2:28: And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming .
How do we show that we "abide" in Him? Note that the verses below explain how to tell whether or not you are "abiding" in Jesus and He in you:
1Jn:3:6: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
"If a man love Me," Christ said, "he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John 14:23.
To "abide" in Christ, you must "die to self" and no longer walk in the flesh... Jn:12:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (that would be the fruits of the Spirit)
1Jn:3:14: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
1Jn:2:10: He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
1Jn:3:24: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
1Jn:2:6: He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
You do not see any "just believe" there do you? What we hear about abiding in Christ is... he who sinneth not, he who keeps My words, he who dies to self, he who loves the brethren, he who keeps the commandments, he who walks as Jesus walked... it is THEY who are abiding in Christ! Remember, John clearly said that ONLY if you abide in Him, will you have confidence at Jesus' second coming! The wicked shall be consumed with the glory of His brightness. 1Jn:2:28: And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
2Thes:2:8: "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." Sin and all those who cling to sin will be consumed!
The wicked, they who choose to cling to their sins and not let them go, will be heading for the hills and begging the mountains to fall on them to shield them from Christ! They will NOT have confidence. And why? ...obviously because they were NOT abiding in Him!
In II Thessalonians Chapter 2 we were warned that there would come a "falling away" in the Church and that this "mystery of iniquity (sin)" was already at work.
Gnosticism appeared in the latter part of the First Century of the Christian Era. Its influence upon New Age thought is undeniable, as New Agers freely admit.The Gnostics tried to interpret Christianity in terms of pagan philosophies, which came from Greek, Egyptian, and Babylonian metaphysics. They took the various teachings from these Occult Mystery Schools, and then attempted to fit the teachings into a new 'Christian' setting, claiming that Gnosticism was the true form of Christianity.
The Gnostics became a sect that claimed to possess a "Secret Knowledge'" that made them superior to the common Christians, who were not privileged to have the same information that they themselves had. They asserted that Christ had allowed them to inherit the Secret Doctrines or esoteric (hidden) teachings of God's Word. And by combining pagan philosophies with the apostolic doctrines of Christianity, Gnosticism became a very strong influence in the ancient Church. But the true Christians labeled it as 'heresy' and fought vigorously against it!
Now these Gnostics claimed that they could know God, yet this so-called "knowing" was not backed up by obedience to God. This war by the true Christians against Gnosticism in the early church can be seen by the words of John. Many Christians in his day claimed to "know" God, but John let them know in no uncertain terms that their claim was false, unless it was backed up by obedience to His commandments! 1Jn:2:3: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 1Jn:2:4: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
The false doctrine is now largely taught that the Gospel of Christ has made the Law of God of no effect; that by "believing" we are released from the necessity of being doers of the word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned. The Nicolaitans were a Gnostic sect. To the church of Ephesus JOHN said:
"I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:1-7
The Nicolaitans were a Gnostic sect that plagued the church at Ephesus. The founder was Nicolas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism, one of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5). Adherants to this sect taught that deeds of the flesh do not affect the purity of the soul, and thus have no bearing on salvation. Notice that in I Jn 2:4 John said that those who do not keep the commandments yet claim to "know" God are LIARS and the truth is not in them. Then in Revelation 2:1-7 he commended the church of Ephesus for warring against the Nicolaitans- "and hast found them LIARS". That is because he is talking about the same identical thing... the Gnosticism that had entered into the church... the false teaching of "know God" without proving it by the keeping of the Law of God, the ten commandments!
And so this idea of "all we have to do is believe" and just "know God" had it's origin in the Spiritualistic Gnosticism that had entered into the Early Church! Yet their claim to know God was not backed up by the keeping of His commandments. Thus John repeated several times that if a person really knows God, he will keep His commandments! He even repeated the same thought in Revealtion in regard to the Nicolaitans saying, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Rev. 2:7
What went wrong? Christianity today is following in the footsteps of ancient Israel. The Church lost sight of its mission to the world, in reflecting God's attributes through the keeping of His Law. Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, "the mystery of iniquity" has carried forward its deceptive work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism have found their way into the Christian Church. 2Thes:2:7: For the mystery of iniquity (lawlessness) doth already work.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come... (many will be) lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2Timothy 3:1,4,5. Many Christians today claim to love God and have merely an outward form of godliness, while denying the power of God to transform the life! Ezek:33:31: And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
We do know that this mystery of iniquity has already been at work in the Church. The vital truths of the Scriptures have been watered down almost one degree at a time. This has been done to such a great extent that it is has become increasingly difficult in our day to distinguish the Christian from the worldly man. Satan, the great adversary of God, has been working in secret to undermine the very pillars of the Christian faith. In the book of Jude chapter 1 verse 3, we are exhorted to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints". The situation however, is that much of Christianity today has no idea what constitutes "that faith that was once delivered to the saints", and that is why there is much confusion in the Church today.
Today, as then, there are false religious teachers, to whose doctrines many listen with "itching ears". This even has been foretold in the Scriptures: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 3:3,4
Yet the eyes of God are over His beloved Church, and He sees and knows it all. Our merciful Lord, in these last days of earth's history, gives a final call to mankind to return to the purity of doctrine that once was held in precious esteem by the church. In the Book of Revelation, it is brought to our attention that Satan, otherwise known as the Dragon or Serpent would go out to persecute the pure woman (the term "woman" symbolizes the church: Jer:6:2: I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.), and to "make war with the remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" Rev. 12:17. By this we should know that there were at one time a pure church, a pure people, who kept the commandments of God and that God has purposely worked to preserve the truths of His Word, that "faith once delivered to the saints," through a special remnant in these last days. The word "remnant" means "the end remainder of". No matter how hard Satan tried to obliterate the truth, God preserved for Himself a remnant, that would proclaim the original pure doctrines.... "that faith once delivered to the saints" Jude 1:3.
Perhaps these words will have more meaning to us now: Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters... Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Rev. 14:6,7,12
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" Matthew 7:22,23. Iniquity means Lawlessness or sin. Let's put it simple... if you do not depart from sin, then one day Jesus will say to you "Depart from ME, I don't even know you!" John puts it another way, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" 1Jn:2:4. So, if you do not depart from sin and you refuse to keep God's Law, then you do not know Jesus. You don't know Jesus and Jesus will say "I don't know you".
So what is "SAVING FAITH?" I think you can see the answer.
Claudia, I did not have time to read all you wrote but I have a question for you. If it is answered above, forgive me. You mentioned that you have to "prove" your faith.
Who do you have to "prove" your faith to?
Gal.5.5-6 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
1 Cor.13.2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
James 2.14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
I believe that the Scriptures teach (as did many of the parables Jesus taught) that 'faith' must be coupled with works. These are not 'works of the law' but rather works of grace. To say that these 'works' are only 'evidence' of TRUE faith is to play word games.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
Our faith is a gift from God. We did nothing to receive receive it.
You said there were many people in the OT that were saved without knowing the Messiah was God, the Son. Who is the Messiah in Isaiah 43:11? " I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour." Who is the Messiah in Isaiah 63:16? "Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD art our Father, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting."
You asked another the question of whom do you have to 'prove' your faith to...
If I may?
First, you have to prove it to yourself... Otherwise you will not trust or rely on those things that rest on Faith...
Secondly, you must prove it to specifically Jesus Christ. (Mark 8:38)
No one else need to be convinced for those are the only two this Armenian believes can stand between a person and salvation...
Not being ashamed, IMHO, has nothing to with convincing others you have faith... But, rather that to yourself you believe it enough to stand up for it...
I am not quite getting the flavour of my heart on this... And, I know I don;t have the theological 'nutrition' to properly express what I am trying to say.
And, in all things... It is an established fact because God Word says so. Not whether I feel it or not... We act by Faith according to God's Word...
Man this shouldn't take a PhD! But, my head hurts!
A genuine saving faith is the faith James talks about when he compares it to a nominal faith.
SMM, I want to answer you really bad but I will wait to give Claudia a chance to answer first. I will answer tonight or tomorrow morning either way.
OK, now I will answer. SMM you said you need to prove your faith to yourself and to Jesus. Most Catholics believe faith is proved to God by good works. My contention is that the above is wrong. I wish I could put that kinder but I couldn't think of how else to say it. Anyway, think of it like this. You are 14 and playing in a big baseball game. Your Dad is watching the game and video taping it. Bottom of the ninth you hit the winning homerun. In fact, you went 4 for 4 and had 8 RBI's and threw 2 guys out at home. Now you get home to your family and friends and tell them that you had this great game. They think you must be joking and challange you. You get out the video tape and show them that it was true. Dad, however, is in the kitchen and doesn't watch the tape because he was there, he needed no proof.
I hope that example does this concept justice. If you think deeply about it you should understand that God, the all knowing, sees our heart, he knows what has happened with us and whether we are His or not. He made the tape, He was there, HE NEEDS NO PROOF FROM US. Our good works are to prove to others that our faith is genuine.
"Let your light so shine before OTHERS that they may see your good works..." and the end of the verse says that they can give glory to God. We do the works and give God the credit and he gets the Glory through us and in doing so we "prove" to others to whom it is that we belong.
Hope that made some sense. It really helps me to understand what Paul and James say about "good works" and "faith" when I see it from this perspective.
In Christian Love,
Actually, most Protestants believe that faith if 'proved' or 'vindicated' by good works. The tradtional 'catholic' view is that (grace-filled)works complete our faith, that they are utterly necessary if one is to be saved.
I think I am a bit dense?
I dodn't completely follow your line of reasoning...
My statement about 'proving it to God' is based on a lose interpretation of Mark 8:38...
Yes, I have no doubts about God knowing everything.
But, the idea is is that it must be 'Publicly Proven' before God and His Angels...
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is not enough to merely 'Believe' for Salvation and Pray for Forgiviness...
The Faith/Belief has to have enough depth to 'Not Be Ashamed' of Jesus in public..
Romans adds 'Confess with the Mouth'...
I see this as a 'whole life' testimony of Good Works and Deeds 'proving' a changed heart towards God and man.
Works *before* Faith is Dead and has no power to save...
Works *after* Faith also has no power to save...
But, are a 'Proof' that a work has been accomplished and that a new creation has been birthed...
I think I'll go take few aspirins now.
If we talk long enough... We might figure out what we're saying...
Jude, faith is proved by good works but not to God. It is the "proof" the world needs to see. If we never do a good work we would not be less saved as God see the heart directly. We do good works to let others see our "heart" because they cannot see it directly. Catholics make the "good works" an absolute to salvation. Carson Weber and I covered this at one point and he said "proved" or "justified" and that is where I got my statement above from. I apologise if I over-simplified the catholic view.
I believe all Christians go through periods where they abound in "Good works" and periods where they will do little "good works". This can be simply because of different life situations. At any rate God doe not need proof of anything. My example above, though strange, is a good illustation of how this process works.
SMM, that post was for you too. I must say I cannot conceptualize any reason for us to prove anything to God.
Take care and God bless,
Brian, I too know that we don't have to prove anything to God, because He already knows. In fact, He could judge us RIGHT NOW based on what we will YET do, because He knows.
But I do take exception with the idea that if we are not doing good works that we will be saved anyway, or as you say it "any less saved." Did not Jesus teach that "By their fruits, ye shall know them?" speaking about the way that we may know what is good and what is bad. He then goes on to teach the parable about the good fruit and the bad fruit, saying:
Matt. 7: 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
I like the words of Jesus. They speak to me in a way that lets me know what counts. Jesus says that if a tree doesn't bring forth good fruit (or good works) it is to be hewn down and cast into the fire.
Remember the Widow's mite, it was counted as good works or good fruit, and Jesus said "Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury," but for all practical purposes, what good did the two mites really do for anyone? Jesus looks on the heart, and that woman had good works, even though her "light" didn't shine extremly bright in the contributions department.
But people, I mean Christians, should be bringing forth good fruit all the time, should be doing good works all the time, if they are true. Even when its two mites, it counts. We do what we can with fulness of heart. Always abounding in good works. Good works matter, but done for the right reasons. They must be there.