Part 2 For those who refuse the Free Gift, the Last Things, and Helpful Aids.
By Agur Israel Thomas
7th – The Penalty for Works-Based Gospel
In case you have a participant who is a Catholic, a Mainline Church of Christ, or a cult member, the 7th would be most helpful for them.
For those who try to earn salvation are self condemned for the same reason we’re under condemnation.
But for those who try to earn their salvation, despite being given the Gospel, is to reject the free gift of salvation; which also denigrates the sacrifice of Christ (Galatians 2:21, 3:10-13). They’ve also become debtors to the law (Romans 4:2-5) and have fallen from Grace (Galatians 5:4).
Finally, they might ask: “If we shouldn’t obey the commandments to be saved, then why does the Bible tell us to follow it”? The answer is this:
- To show our need for a savior (Romans 3:19-20)
- To do what is right and avoid wrongdoing (Ibid 7:7)
- Because saved us (1 John 4:19)
8th – The Doctrine of Assurance.
The problem with some of the current gospel invitation models is that they lead the hearer to believe that they’re saved solely because of a decision they’ve made and how sincere they were (Jeremiah 17:9). In the word of my first spiritual mentor:” They may be sincere, but they’re sincerely wrong”
With that, the Doctrine of Assurance can be summed up in one word: evidence. What is the evidence of true conversion (James 2:14-26 & the entire 1st John)? How do you, and they, know that they’re saved?
First, how much of the Gospel factored in their decision? Do you or they believe because they evidenced godly sorrow that leads to repentance and surrender or just to be safe from damnation (as to obtain a “Get-out-of-Hell, free!” card)?
Second, do they know that they’re to be new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 & 1 John 3:6-9) and do they know how they’re transformed (Philippians 1:6, Galatians 2:20, & Ephesians 2:10)? And that they’re being kept by Him for eternity (John 6:37-39 & 10:28-29)?
Third, are they aware of the cost of following Christ; have they made the decision to believe anyway, or just get their “Best Life Now” (Matthew 13:5-6 & 2 Timothy 3:15)?
Moreover, do they know to examine and test themselves to see if they’re in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Like the test of Prophets, a true believer should naturally bear good fruits (Matthew 7:15-23 & 1 John 3:6-9).
Finally, are they showing signs of a true Christian by their growth and maturity in: A. Theology (John 17:2 & 2 Timothy 2:15), B). Doxology (Psalms 63:1-4, 135:3, 136:1, & 1 John 4:19), C. Praxis (Galatians 5:16-25, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, & James 1:27)?
True Christians are Regenerated Christians… and Regenerated Christians will show signs of conversion. Their life ought to match their doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16).
Now… the Last Things
I would that Christian clubs not only teach the Gospel to them but also basic doctrines of the faith as this is a Christian club. If it’s just a Christian self-help club then why are you preaching the Gospel to them? And if you’re preaching the Gospel to them then why not teach them fundamental theology, peradventure, the saved are ignorant of them?
Not all of us have come from good congregations as you know that there are leaders who care more about numbers and profits than saving lives. So they avoid subjects that offend such as sin and damnation yet Jesus talked about both more than all the Apostles combined because they’re of such vital necessity (Matthew 10:34-39, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, & Matthew 28:19-20).
If you do not know what doctrine they’re ignorant of then please do the following:
- Have them teach you, on paper and in class, what the Gospel is.
- Conduct a theological test (https://carm.org/theological-test)
- Impress upon them the importance of church history for their personal study, s through it, they can understand how doctrines, creeds, and confessions have developed over the centuries.
The following doctrines are very helpful to new converts and those not familiar with them:
- The Nicene, Athanathian, and Apostles Creed
- The Protestant Reformation
- The Four Solas
If you do not want to teach them any of the fundamental doctrines because of time then buy for each and every one of them Evangelical/Protestant Confessions such as the Heidelberg, Wesleyan, Methodist, or Congregational. They differ only on the minor and not on the major fundamental doctrines.
For Part 1 please click here: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/disraelthomas.com/42
WWUTT is a biblical answers to the questions and issues facing the church today)
When We Understand the Text 13 Sept. 2013 http://www.wwutt.com/
Ryan Reeves (Church history in how we’ve arrived to the doctrines, creeds, confessions, traditions and ecclesiastical movements we have today)
30 Nov. 2011 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrI5U0R293u9uveijefKyAA
Blimey Cow (Humorous, satirical, and apolitical focus on issues facing the youths of today and common sense and logical approach to solving them)
Blimey Cow 27 June 2006 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0jIctUPBK6lHw4AYnGHvCA
Got Questions Ministries covers major theological issues: https://www.gotquestions.org/
Hell’s Best Kept Secret, a method of evangelism virtually forgotten by the contemporary church titled, “The Way of the Master” https://www.livingwaters.com/hells-best-kept-secret/
OneMillionTracts is an online store where you can buy tracts and other resources that uses the “Way of the Master” method.
SermonIndex (A channel where one can listen to current and classical preachers in Evangelical history): https://www.youtube.com/user/sermonindex/featured
Christian Apologetics Research Ministry is an all around apologetics ministry to equip Christians in their effort to defend and reach the lost. To me, this is one of the best Apologetics site as it tackles issues from heretical doctrine to alleged bible contradictions https://carm.org/
Acts17Apologetics is a Youtube channel that biblical defense against Islam https://www.youtube.com/user/Acts17Apologetics
ONE FOR ISRAEL Ministry is one that reaches out to the chosen people of God – the Jewish people. It includes apologetics, and testimonial outreach to the Jewish People): https://www.oneforisrael.org/
14 thoughts on “Eight Things Christians Must Know To Properly Share the Gospel (Part 2-2).”
Catholics don’t believe they can earn salvation. Pelagianism was condemned in the Council of Carthage.
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Hi, The Catholic of Honor. I hope that you’re doing well. Thank you for reading my blog.
I remember watching a video about that; how Pelagius and St. Augustine debated, and that in the end, the church sided with the latter.
The problem however is that since the Counel of Trent your side believed that salvation is not by faith alone but also by works. That alone is reason enough to believve otherwise. If it is by faith alone, then nothing is required by the believer to do anything for his/her salvation., but it is the opposite if works are also required.
If you still disagree with that, then let me ask you this: if salvation is not to be earned then why is it that a believer can lose his/her salvation by committing sin? If one can lose his/her salvation by a transgression or iniquity, then doesn’t the person have to do the reverse? By obeying the commandments (James 4:17)?
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Thanks for your reply. I read a small portion of St. Augustine’s work On Nature and Grace for research on one of my posts (actually that particular post had absolutely nothing to do with the main point of the condemnation of Pelagianism, also unrelated to Justification by Faith Alone).
Well, if we are using “to earn” as synonymous with “to deserve” the teaching is somewhat different from Pelagius’. If God truly expected us to save ourselves we would all be in huge trouble and, quite frankly, go to hell. If works were our own (as Pelagius believed), then salvation could be earned and Christ’s sacrifice would be useless. Without grace, charity is absolutely impossible. What Catholics believe is that it is necessary that one allows God’s grace to work in his life to be saved. Any good we do is our Lord working through us. Technically, it seems to me that evangelicals, at least arminians, have a similar view to a lesser extent. Obviously one cannot have faith by his own power. Christ Himself said “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) So technically one must allow God’s grace to work in his life to have faith. In Catholicism, that extends to charity.
I heard a priest explain the difference between Catholic and evangelical justification, based on Martin Luther’s analogy. Luther compared us to dunghills whom Christ covers with snow by his sacrifice (a somewhat gross analogy if you don’t mind me saying so). The priest said that Catholic justification is more like if we were dunghills which Christ completely pasteurized and planted so that we become plants that bear fruit. It’s still Christ doing it either way. The question is how He does it.
Good words from St. Augustine. Those of us who are Evangelicals/Protestants would definitely agree with hiim on that. However, you brought upon a familair response. Grace in cooperation with works. You’ve said, quoting Augustine, that if our works are our own then we would be in trouble, and with your dismissal of “to earn” being to deserve, your premise is that we can never earn our salvation because anything we do would be fruitless so, it must come from God. He gives us the grace to work in the first place. Have I properly understood your point?
So when salvation is gained, the recipient did not earn it as to deserve eternal life, but it is by God’s grace s/he received it?
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Yes. My point is that it is only through God’s grace that people can do good works anyway.
To me, I find it strange that God would give us the ability to obey, in order to gain salvation. While it is acknowledged that no one can in of him/herself obey the commandments, but must depend entirely of God to do so, Romans 4:4-5 still applies.
Yes, when salvation is gained it is not deserved, but it is nevertheless earned because it is we who decides to take full advantage of the abilities God has given above.
1. Commanding us to obey the commandments to be saved
2. Giving us the ability to obey those commandments
3. And we do them.
He is obliged to give us what we seek. You may call it Grace, but that nevertheless is a wage… not a gift.
Romans 4:4-5 did not say He justifies the godly but the ungodly.
Well, I suppose so. However, if you actually don’t have to do anything to go to heaven, what would logically follow is that all would be saved. By that I mean that there is still the virtue of faith, which you also consider necessary for salvation. I mean, what God requires for salvation still goes as follows.
1. God must command us to trust in his salvific power.
2. He gives us the grace, resistible or irresistible, to have such faith.
3. We accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
He gives us what we seek because we have still done something. In that case, it could still be considered in one sense a wage rather than a free gift.
Salvation by faith alone is an easy step, but not for carnal man (Romans 8:6-7), and if he does so just to be safe, nevver actually believe the Gospel or at all serious on repentance, then he is no more saved than an Atheist to a maniacal dictator.
Now, we’re supposed to obey the commandments though not to be saved, but because we’re saved. Orignially, He expected us to do so, if we want to be with Him in heaven as no sinner can dwell with Him (Psalm 5:4 & Romans 2:6-7). Jesus reenforces this by the fact that our righteousness must surpass that of the Scribes and the Pharisees otherwise we will not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20)
The problem however is that we cannot (Romans 2:17-24). If the Jews could not keep it, then how can anyone else?
He did not make a mistake, by imposing the Law, He did it to prove a point:
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
– Romans 3:19-20
This is why Romans 3:23-24 says that all have fallen short of the glory of God, but being justified freely… by his grace… through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Salvation is given freely, and it must be given freely, because there is no other way to being saved.
You might think that all we need to do is to rely on Christ to give us the works to do, but that defeats the purpose of His sacrifice. He didn’t die just to pay for our sins, He came to save. So how can He save when all He’s doing is to give us the tools to save ourselves? Who is saving who, or are we both saviors? By the salvific model you’ve given me, it is a very odd and hybrid form of salvation.
Imagine that you’re drowning, but there appears a Lifeguard. But instead of diving, swimming, and taking you back to the ship, all s/he does is throw you a floating device that won’t remain afloat for long, saying “Here… it will last only for 30 seconds. If you want to continue to be saved from drowning, ask and prove to me that you want it by swimming towards me so I can give you more of the same. Do it long enough as you swim towards me, and then I can take you on board”.
He is certainly there, and he is there to save, but he’s nothing more than a lender of floatation devices as you must save yourself. He’s saving you also, but only giving out those things.
Now you’ve in effect, said that faith is also a work; have I understood that correctly?
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Yes, at least that is how I see it. Also, why do you say that charity is a necessary consequence of faith, although in itself not necessary for salvation?
By that I mean that God still gives us the grace to believe, but we must actually believe. It’s not so much a hybrid form of salvation. I mean, from a sense of the actual deeds of Christ, people obviously did participate in his salvific work. For example, St. Joseph was chosen as His protector and provider. St. John the Baptist and the other prophets prepared his way. The Virgin Mary provided for him his human nature, nursed him, and raised him. In that sense, you could argue that they also must be considered saviors, since without their help, the redemption would have never happened. Christ didn’t need to use them, but he did.
As noted, Catholics believe that justification involves God actually making us holy rather than covering up our sins. That could only be a lifelong process. Of course we were originally given the grace to be saved at baptism. Since then, provided you do not reject God by mortal sin, you are saved. The thing is, you could say that Christ doesn’t just give you the ability to do the good but allows you to let Him do good through you. For that reason, I would rather say to imagine if you were drowning and the lifeguard would dive in to take you back to the ship. The lifeguard takes your hand to bring you up. However, what you could do instead is punch the lifeguard in the face by mortal sin. In that case, he would probably drop you and you would drown. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you’re tempted to punch the lifeguard, because swimming in the ocean somehow seems temporally pleasing, although you would drown (you may have a strange mental illness—ignore the unlikely scenario). There is also another thing you can do, that is, pinch the lifeguard or something which will loosen the lifeguard’s grip in venial sin. Everyone does that sometimes. Now, avoiding physically injuring the lifeguard isn’t easy, but the lifeguard’s still saving you. You also need to trust that the lifeguard won’t let you go unless you make him.
HI The Catholic of Honor, I apologize for this very late reply.
“Yes, at least that is how I see it. Also, why do you say that charity is a necessary consequence of faith, although in itself not necessary for salvation?”
It is not necessary as it is a natural fruit from a new creature in 2 Corinthians 5:17. This new creature is simply a person with a new nature whereas before, his/her will is bent on rebellion. Now becoming as if being a new creature, his/her will is now desirous to please God. Indeed, in Romans 6:16-18, s/he was once a slave (Gk: doumas) to sin, but now a slave to righteousness.
The first episle of John speaks in depth on the traits of believers vs unbelievers (i.e.: 2:2-3 believers will love their brothers but unbelievers will hate him).
“By that I mean that God still gives us the grace to believe, but we must actually believe.”
In actuality, He must give us the will to believe. There is a doctrine called “Irresistable Grace” which teaches that we cannot believe unless God draws us (John 6:44). Yes, I am a Calvinist.
“It’s not so much a hybrid form of salvation. I mean, from a sense of the actual deeds of Christ, people obviously did participate in his salvific work. For example, St. Joseph was chosen as His protector and provider. St. John the Baptist and the other prophets prepared his way. The Virgin Mary provided for him his human nature, nursed him, and raised him.”
The examples you’ve given seemed apples and oranges to me, because salvation is not done by man at all. Regeneration is accomplished by God aione in John 1:12-13. It says “Not by the deeds of the flesh or the will of man, but by God” but I understand why you’ve used them.
“In that sense, you could argue that they also must be considered saviors, since without their help, the redemption would have never happened. Christ didn’t need to use them, but he did.”
He used them, and yes they’re instrumental to the salvation of, but it is by the sovereign will of God that they’ve done what He wills (Proverbs 17:15).
“As noted, Catholics believe that justification involves God actually making us holy rather than covering up our sins. That could only be a lifelong process.”
It’s a life long process, but like salvation, sanctification is entirely done by God himself
” Of course we were originally given the grace to be saved at baptism. Since then, provided you do not reject God by mortal sin, you are saved.”
We believe that Baptism is a work but that is for another discussion.
“The thing is, you could say that Christ doesn’t just give you the ability to do the good but allows you to let Him do good through you.”
Philippians 2:13 says that He gives us the will and to do for His good pleasure. We’re not to credit ourselves with regard to justification and likewise so with sanctification “… so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9-10).
“For that reason, I would rather say to imagine if you were drowning and the lifeguard would dive in to take you back to the ship. The lifeguard takes your hand to bring you up. However, what you could do instead is punch the lifeguard in the face by mortal sin. In that case, he would probably drop you and you would drown.”
In such cases He would drop us; not do drown but have us experience a “… wilderness experience” as what King Nebuchadnezzar and the Prodical Son had. The protective hand of God is loosened and allows bad things to happen until we’ve had enough. And because we’re new creatures, we will not long remain in that state of rebellion.
“….. You also need to trust that the lifeguard won’t let you go unless you make him.”.
If you are His, worry not for He won’t:
“37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
– John 6:37-39
This other doctrine is called, Perseverance of the Saints.
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Yes. I actually think Calvinists are more consistent than Arminianists, to be honest. I won’t answer all of your verses from Scripture at this moment, if you don’t mind, because, at least to me, it’s hard to focus on both Scripture and logic at the same time. I can answer those if you would like me to do so. However, you didn’t name Arminianists as one of those who believe that they can earn salvation, since they believe they must cooperate with the work of faith. It is an easy step, but a step none the less. I think it is more of a work than baptism in a sense because faith is a theological virtue while baptism is a sacrament which, quite frankly, were it not instituted by Christ for man would be neither virtuous nor vicious. I don’t even think it would be classified as a “meritorious” work, except for the graces Christ merited on the Cross (and, granted, Christ is the only one who can merit anything from God in a true sense). Some more mainline Protestants don’t necessarily have a problem with baptism as a sacrament.
It was, of course, an analogy that people acted in His earthly life, but my point was that our Lord allows us to take part in His life. Matthew 10:41-42 states: “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” I mean, if a person offers you a gift, you can still accept it or reject it, but the person is still the one who gave it to you.
I think I can say I’m fairly familiar with Calvinism. My cousin is very vocal about his views. I’m also following an Amyraldist’s blog. So, if I’m correct you believe that this is all based on total depravity, the doctrine that fallen man is completely touched by sin and that he is completely a sinner. So, I suppose Adam and Eve didn’t have this, since they were not fallen? So, why didn’t they, if they weren’t fallen, have Perseverance of the Saints? Also, if God utterly detests all sin which is completely contrary to his nature, how can God willingly cause or allow people to sin without giving them any strength to avoid it? Also what is the point of evangelization if it is decided regardless of our choices who is saved and who is damned?
And by the way, Catholics don’t deny that salvation is also a past-action. I was saved at baptism. Catholic salvation isn’t as hard as people make it out to be to someone actually striving to live out the Christian life.
But biblically, it is. Unless the Catholic church completely divorced itself from the scriptures, it cannot ignore passages like Matthew 5:20, James 2:10, and Isaiah 64:6.
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Very well, my friend. Sorry about that. The Catholic Church is not going to divorce itself from the Scriptures, certainly. I believe you quoted this verse:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8–9
Even taken out of context, I, as a Catholic, would probably be willing to quote this, although I might add “and baptism” but I suppose that would be another discussion. Keep in mind that the Council of Trent never condemned “faith alone” but only “faith alone” meaning “that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will” (Decree on Justification, Can. IX) So, first of all, before conversion no one can attain grace or salvation by their own good works. Even after conversion, all value is bestowed on good works under the inspiration and with the assistance of the grace of Christ. At another time, our Lord pointed out: “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) And again He’s going to say in the Last Judgment to the saints: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink…” and to the reprobate: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink…” (Mattew 25:34-35,41-42) How can salvation be wholly without works if by lack of good works it can be forfeited?
By the way, do you happen to know of one Church Father who supported justification by imputation? I know of none.
But still you haven’t my question. You explained that we will do good works because we don’t have free will in the matter, which I accept as a good response. However, first of all, you didn’t name arminians as those who believe their salvation can be earned. I’ve heard a number of Calvinists argue that if the question as to whether we are saved relies on our own cooperation with God’s grace, even through faith alone, it makes us co-saviors. So why don’t they think they can earn salvation? Second, your appeal to Calvinism explains why we don’t have to cooperate with God’s grace. Nevertheless, you still argue that the Elect must have faith to be saved. So if the reason is that if someone has to do the will of God in order to be saved, it depreciates Christ as our one Savior, why does it not depreciate His work if we even have to put our trust in Him by faith?