Want Some Answers ???
Thanks for writing John. Sorry you feel so disappointed and think I’m bad. However, I'm pleased to have someone like you correct me. I pray you have patience and time. Don't worry if your reply is lengthy or late, I'll wait.
The first emails Christadelphians sent me claimed I was wrong. You said they never taught salvation related to WORKS at all. You wrote,
>>there is not one Christadelphian who would claim that either you were incorrect on this point. I assure you we make no such claim. If you have found this thought in literature published in our name, then I can only suggest that it was poorly written.<<
What’s caused you to change your claim? Now its the opposite. You say – “you will NOT be saved without them [good works] - this is God's decree.” Or is your latest mail “poorly written”? Or are you the first to make this claim?
I would like to respond to your letter and then look forward to having you explain where and why I'm wrong. In your mail you address one "single argument " from my previous letter.
>>the matter of 'works'. The role of 'works' in the Christian life; what 'works' can, and cannot, achieve. So then, from the very beginning, so that you might at least understand one thing: 1. FAITH "And without faith it is impossible to please God. " (Hebrews 11:6) Thus 'faith' is essential. The words above prove that beyond doubt. Now let us add to that the teaching of James<<
Just before you "add to that to the teaching of James " realise one thing. James uses some words differently than other NT writers. The "faith " that James speaks of is faith that a person claims to have. Many claim they are Christians but have no evidence in their life and actions. Their 'faith' is not real. Jas.2:14 "though a man say he hath faith". James is a book written not merely to believers but also those professing belief. They were "brethren " after the flesh [Cp. Rom.9:3-4]. They needed to be saved. Many today claim also to believe in God [but are not genuine]. Just as many observe ritual, the commandments, diet, religion, customs, yet they do not have saving faith. James is saying, "I will show thee my faith by my works" [2:18]. So James does not conflict with Paul, he uses words differently. Eg,
For Paul - "works " - these cannot earn salvation.
For James - "works " - these flow from genuine faith.
For Paul - "faith " - trust in Christ's atonement.
For James - "faith " - one who claims to have faith.
For Paul - "justified " - not by good works.
For James - "justified " - to do good works.
[See the Jewish Epistles]
So good works are important, but insufficient for salvation. All religions teach salvation by good works, but only the true gospel offers salvation as the gift of God. Your faith should be in God not in your works or the doctrines of Christadelphianism. Surely we both agree faith should be in God, not the doctrines and interpretations of men.
>>2. WORKS "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. " (James 2:26) So what do we learn from a combination of these two very simple passages? That FAITH is essential to please God and that FAITH is dead unless it is combined with WORKS. So we learn that faith and works must necessarily be combined: without faith we cannot please God, and without works faith is dead, and therefore again we cannot please God.<<
Hope you can see now how the writer of Hebrews and James uses the word faith in different ways [If not please write and explain]. But if I take it the way you want me to. Then salvation is part of us [our faith and our works] and part of God. This is the error of "Synergism ", the teaching that we cooperate with God in our efforts of salvation. Christadelphians are synergistic in that they teach that God's grace, combined with our efforts are what makes forgiveness of sins possible.
John, if our eternal salvation were in anyway related to our works then we could earn it, and God would be our debtor: He would owe us something [Rom.4:1-3]. The Bible teaches that God owes no man anything and all our righteousness are as filthy rags [Isa.64:6]. The simple reason is that God has a perfect standard and all of us have sinned and come short of this mark [Rom.3:23]. We like to compare ourselves to others and feel we are not so bad after all. But God compares us to Christ and next to Him we cannot help but fall far short. Otherwise, the words of Jesus are not true, 'no Man cometh to the Father but by Me' [Jn.14:6].
I asked you to explain Eph.2:8-9. Thank you for that. You begun by saying,
>>That FAITH (and therefore WORKS to keep the FAITH alive) are ESSENTIAL to please God, but that they still cannot, and do not, bring us salvation. We are saved entirely, and only, through God's GRACE<<
The faith of Hebrews 11 refers to those who truly trust God. James describes the dead faith of religious people [Jas.1:22,27, 2:14, 18-29]. However, do works keep faith alive? Not according to Rom 10:17 "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God ". And Eph.2:10. Men are saved, "to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" You have reversed the Biblical pattern. You think WORKS keep faith alive. No! Instead, works result from real FAITH.
Faith [belief in God] is essential for salvation, but it is not faith that saves; it's God's grace. Salvation comes by faith but not some human effort of works. Humans find themselves imperfect whether it is God's law or even human legislation. Human imperfection also applies to the area of human faith. Faith or trust originates out of the human heart or mind and is flawed just like any of effort we undertake as humans.
Salvation comes under the category of a miracle, that is Divine faith - that trust that the Creator places in us so that we can be saved by Him. No merit or credit to any human, just totally a gift from God.
It's not even a solid or a shaky faith that saves. It's not 'my faith' but God's grace. The gift of salvation is by God's grace through faith, not by MY faith through grace. Salvation is a gift. It's a Divine Work, not a human procurement. Faith is not the reason God saves men. Love is the reason. We did nothing to motivate God to save us. His motivation was intrinsic. It came from within His nature. He saw our plight and felt compassion for us.
Christadelphians hold similar views to the Roman Catholics. They also believe meritorious works result in justifying grace and every time one does good works grace comes down.
>>Why then bother with either faith or works at all? If God is omnipotent why can't he save us with his grace irrespective of whether or not we have any faith or works?<<
Because God has given man a free will. He does not force him to repent or have faith. But it also matters what man places faith in - himself or God. The OT sacrificial system taught that 'without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sin' [Heb.9:22]. Sin needs to be washed away by the blood of Christ. We can only place faith in the love of God written in the blood of Jesus - nothing else.
Yet ALL the faith [1 Cor.13:2] and ALL the works, love and kindness in the entire world can't save anyone who has not had a rebirth. Without which you will "never see the Kingdom of God " [Jn.3:3]. Without this conversion, years of striving mean nothing. Without God's Spirit within, one is not a Christian [Jn.3:3 Rom.8:9]. Such professors of faith [like yourself] can never have assurance of salvation and "the peace that passeth understanding " which I enjoy [Phil.4:7].
If you are not 'born again' you can work, keep the law, hope and pray, all for nothing. That's why my letters point out that I have accepted God's free gift of salvation. Those who are spiritually dead in trespasses and sin need to be made alive to Christ [Eph.2:1]. They need an awakening to their lost hopeless condition for the Good News is that His sacrifice covers all sin - past, present and future. This is what the Gospel is all about.
>>God has made a promise that even though he CAN save those who remain in their sins and won't convert through faith and works, he WON'T save them<<
I agree. God wills that all men be saved. But I still believe works come from faith, not the other way around. And works don't enter the arena of God's free gift of salvation. As Paul said, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy" [Titus 3:4-5]. And again note Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us".
So why persist with a conditional salvation? The very best human faith and works falls woefully short of Christ's perfection. Otherwise we undermine the work of the cross and the words- perfect, grace, free gift, salvation and forgiveness all lose their meaning. Have you ever considered how far the east is from the west? Because that's how far He removes sin!
>>Here is the reference you need: "Behold, the Lord's hand is NOT shortened, that it CANNOT save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But you iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he WILL NOT hear. " (Isaiah 59:1-2)<<
Yes there's many who trust their 'church' and their works to save them. But their sins are not forgiven; surely this verse applies to them. Note, it was written to those under the Old Covenant. There was no mercy under the law. The law says 'an eye for an eye' Grace says 'turn the other cheek'. The law says, 'Do and live'. Grace, 'Believe and live' Law utterly condemns the best man [you], grace freely justifies the worst [me] Lk.23:43 Rom.5:8 1 Tim.1:15 1 Cor.6:9-11. There was fault with the old covenant and need of another [Heb.8:7-8].
>>GRACE is the only thing which saves us. But God has decreed that he will not pour his GRACE on those who refuse to show FAITH and WORKS<<
What a contradiction in your theology. How can 'grace be the only thing' when in one sentence further you add works? Grace is not grace if we are also saved by works. Rom 3:28. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" [no mention of works]. Rom 5:2 "through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" [no mention of works]. Read Galatians chapters 3-4 and Romans 3-4. These chapters throw works totally out of the salvation picture.
>>Hence, as the verse in Ephesians clearly states "by GRACE you have been saved, through FAITH. " (ibid)<<
What does the rest of the verse say? "AND THIS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD-- NOT BY WORKS, SO THAT NO ONE CAN BOAST" [Eph 2:8-9]. The only mention of 'works' in this verse is the phrase, "NOT BY WORKS ".
>>No man is righteous, either by his faith, or by his works. But a man who exhibits FAITH & WORKS (the two are inseparable as James shows) is granted RIGHTEOUSNESS through God's GRACE<<
Paul says, Phil 3:9" and be found in him, NOT having a righteousness of MY OWN that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith". He doesn't say, "comes by faith and works ".
Once good works are introduced into the salvation process, salvation is no longer by faith alone; it is by faith and works. To imply that salvation is maintained by good works [or not sinning] is to take the daily burden of our salvation upon ourselves, In that case, there will be room for boasting in heaven [Rom.3:28 Phil.3:12].
Saying that God's grace enables us to maintain good works will not solve this dilemma. For who is responsible for daily appropriating that grace? If salvation hinges on the consistency of our faith, by what standard are we to judge our consistency? Can we have any doubts at all? How long can we doubt? To what degree can we doubt? Is there a divine quote we dare not exceed?
Also consider this; since Christ is God in the flesh [The Word became a human being Jn.1:14] So "God is my Saviour ". He who made "all things " is my Saviour and provided my salvation. You are satisfied with the Christadelphian interpretation of who Jesus is and hope to find Salvation through that. Let me tell you, you have no chance. Jesus said, "Ye shall die in your sins if ye believe not that I AM He". It doesn't matter what your views are on 'works, faith or grace'. The fact is if you don't know Jesus as God in the flesh, then God is not your Saviour. You will die in your sins by dishonouring Christ.
You could even know Scripture and all about salvation yet never receive salvation. Or never received the gift of Holy Spirit who gives eternal life. And to compound the problem, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and reveals how helpless we are to be saved by works or human effort. This you won’t have either.
Your final "proof " that works result in faith is as follows -
>>Here is the proof: "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. " (Romans 4:13) "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. " (Romans 4:1-3)<<
These verses prove my point. In Rom.4:13 Paul is saying the free gift of God's grace was given to the whole world "not because Abraham obeyed God's law" [works mixed with faith], but because he "trusted God [faith alone] to keep his promises " [LB]. The promise of the New Covenant is that "And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more " [Heb.10:17].
Was Abraham justified [declared righteous] before God because of his works? No! It wasn't until later on [Rom.4:11LB] "because of his faith " that he "was circumcised " that "work " was a sign of his faith, not the other way around, as you believe.
>>And now the picture is complete. If you are willing to listen, this should have answered all your questions on 'works', and corrected your erroneous condemnation of other authors who correctly stated that good works are essential in a Christ-like life<<
I believe good works are important "in a Christ-like life ". But they don't have anything to do with how God saves.
>>The good works will NOT save you. But you will NOT be saved without them - this is God's decree. Notice that this is not a contradiction. They (the works) are an essential component. You are save by God's GRACE through FAITH. And faith is dead if it is not complemented by good WORKS.<<
You are saying "I will not be saved by my good works, but I will not be saved without them ". Only one word describes this - contradiction. If it's not then it is inconsistent. I suggest that you have not understood the gospel properly. Because the sect you follow have blinded your eyes to the truth. And you have not received Christ as your Saviour and don't have the Holy Spirit within who "convicts men of sin " and reveals their lost condition and need of the Saviour [Jn.16:8-11]. So the only other option for you is to work.
>>You raise other matters, which, though I am quite willing to address, are of greater complexity. It is clear that you are not ready for these deeper arguments, as the simple matters are still eluding your understanding.<<
I'm happy for you to continue with "the simple matters". When Paul says "By grace you have been saved ". The Greek form of the term grace implies that grace is the 'instrument' used to accomplish salvation. In other words, if one were to ask God, "God how did you save me? " He would answer, "Grace ". Grace encapsulates the sending of Christ, the offer of forgiveness, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension. Why grace? Because grace indicates unmerited favour, it suggests an undeserved expression of kindness and goodwill. The whole salvation is just that - an undeserved gift. From start to finish, salvation is by grace.
From this point of your letter you seek to make matters personal. You obviously don't like me. I have never claimed to be perfect only forgiven. But you might well hate me because I have the freedom in Christ you don't have. I believe the Gospel is wonderful, I serve a wonderful Saviour, you have the burden of works [and law] I don't have [Gal.5:1 Ac.15:10]. It's interesting why the elder son was unhappy with the prodigal son. Although he kept all 'thy commandments' he was never given the gift that could cheer his heart [Lk.15:29].
I knew however, before writing to Christadelphians that they would not listen and they are hostile to any who study the Bible and differ. They think only they have the truth.
My salvation is totally of God. He receives all the praise and glory. And I have the joy of been able to tell others about this good news and walk with Him praising Him daily. That's why I'm writing to you. I have not deliberately tried to misunderstand but it appears a convincing argument can be made contrary to Christadelphianism. Feel free to reply.