What must I do to be saved?

For those deep thinkers out there.
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John-Boy
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What must I do to be saved?

Post by John-Boy » Tue Oct 14, 2003 8:35 am

tasty_weed brought up an interesting point in his book recommendations under his bio - the difference between what a church's doctrine is and what the masses believe. A friend of mine engaged in diaglog and bible study for several years studying the teachings of our churches (him catholic and me evangelical) - it was awesome. We both learned so much - and both admitted to having great misconceptions based on sources that turned out to not know the doctrine of the church they professed.

According to Catholic doctrine - How is one saved? Or is that even the right questions to ask?

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Post by sguthrie » Tue Oct 14, 2003 9:22 am

We don't start of slow around here, do we? The baisic answer to that question is:

Realize you are a sinner and not up to God's standard.
Repent of your sin (that's a bit harder)
Accept the gift of Christ's sacrifice to pay for my sins

The tricky part for me is in what comes next. I beleive a true, saving faith will motivate one (as a result of the Holy Spirit's influence) to start living for Christ. What does that say for those who "accept" Christ, but thier lifes don't change? Have they really been saved, or are they just ignoring the proddings of the spirt and living thier own lives.

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Re: What must I do to be saved?

Post by tasty_weed » Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:37 am

John-Boy wrote:According to Catholic doctrine - How is one saved? Or is that even the right questions to ask?
Well, as my bio pointed out, I must first say that I am not Catholic. So anything I say must be taken with a grain or two of salt. I currently am only trying to learn about Catholic belief, although what I am learning is fascinating. They have had so many saints and doctors thinking these things through for so long, that it is both very detailed and very thoughtful. And hence, sometimes quite confusing to me. Enough of the preface, though. Here is my best attempt at an answer....

From one protestant to another, yes, "how is one saved?" is the right question to ask, but to ask a Catholic that question might furrow their brow, even though, by the things they said to attempt an answer, we would agree that they were saved. Christ is the absolute center of their worship. Catholics are born in original sin. Catholics are subsequently cleansed of all sin through baptism. Babies are cleansed of original sin. Adults are cleansed of both original sin and actual sin up to that point. Hence, baptism is necessary for salvation. It is worth noting that original sin is conceived of as something different than in protestant circles, which is too much to go into here, but suffice to say that, for Catholics, to be cleansed of original sin does not mean we are in a state similar to that of Adam and Eve pre-fall. Even though they are cleansed, their appetites remain out of order (concupiscence). As such, humans are still inclined towards sin, though not enslaved to it as Protestants (or at least Calvinists) say. Catholics say that free will remains, though it is weakened.

Sin, in Catholic circles, is broken down into venial and mortal sin. The basic difference is that mortal sin is freely-consented deliberate sin (i.e., if it's sinful and you didn't know it, you only committed a venial sin). Mortal sin committed after baptism separates man from God again, and must be confessed to God through the sacrament of penance (i.e., confession. It is worth noting that Catholic teaching is that one must truly have a penitent heart; not just that going to confession cleanses you whether you are sorry or not). Venial sins incurred after baptism impede our progress to the Kingdom, but do not prevent it. As such, confession is not required for these sins, although it is encouraged. Those who die without mortal sin not having been forgiven them are condemned to hell. Those who have been baptized and die in venial sin (all or most of us) go to purgatory, where they are cleansed once and for all before they see the Beatific Vision (i.e., U***n with God).

This is it, in a nutshell. There is not enough room to go into all the arguments for these various doctrines here. As is evident though, the main difference lies in the mechanical nature of Catholic piety vs. the "spiritual" nature of Protestant worship. I confess, though, that it is this mechanical-ness that attracts me to Catholicism. After all, we are humans, incarnate beings, not pure spirits. We were made to process the world through flesh and blood. And, I believe, it is this intrinsic human-ness that God has provided for in the Catholic church and other sacramental churches (i.e., the necessity of bread, wine, water, the sounds of forgiveness, the smell of incense...they are the gospel made physical and really present, as opposed to present in our minds only).

I apologize for the length, but it is a lengthy subject to which I have no doubt done very little justice. One last point, to others who read this and say that all of this invalidates Christ's work for us, is that it is simply not true. Baptism, confession, the Eucharist, purgatory etc are all thought of as Christ's work being made present to us, physically, in the here and now (or in the then and there). In other words, we are not left to merely think about Christ, but he and all that he has done for us, under various forms, is physically brought into our presence.

Peace.

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Post by John-Boy » Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:33 am

Thanks for the explanation - so I guess the need to ask forgiveness after committing a mortal sin is what would lead to not believing in eternal security?

Where do the rest of you fall out on that? Once saved always saved?

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Post by sguthrie » Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:38 am

I do belive in "once saved always saved", but the issue is back to the deffinition of "saved". I would say that someone who appears to be leading a godly life and then backslides and rejects God was never REALLY saved. He may have gone through the motions, and had an intellectual UNDERSTANDING of Jesus, but never took the step of turning over his life and taking Jesus into his heart.

Not to start any flame wars, but there are some major points of that Catholic doctrine you stated that I have some pretty big problems with.

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Post by tasty_weed » Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:52 am

John-Boy wrote:Thanks for the explanation - so I guess the need to ask forgiveness after committing a mortal sin is what would lead to not believing in eternal security?

Where do the rest of you fall out on that? Once saved always saved?
That is correct. As for "once saved always saved" (OSAS), I don't buy it. As far as I can tell, one must be a Calvinist to believe that. In my opinion, OSAS is the logical conclusion of a system that believes that God has eternally decreed individual's salvation, and consequently, other's perdition. And I believe that all humans have a shot at salvation, not just the elect. If our salvation is not eternally decreed, and we actually have free will, then we must have the free will to reconsider our allegiance to Christ. Otherwise, it's not really free.

I used to be Calvinist and really enjoyed the security of it, though.

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Post by tasty_weed » Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:09 am

sguthrie wrote:I do belive in "once saved always saved", but the issue is back to the deffinition of "saved". I would say that someone who appears to be leading a godly life and then backslides and rejects God was never REALLY saved. He may have gone through the motions, and had an intellectual UNDERSTANDING of Jesus, but never took the step of turning over his life and taking Jesus into his heart.

Not to start any flame wars, but there are some major points of that Catholic doctrine you stated that I have some pretty big problems with.
No flame war here, buddy :D . I am not Catholic. Assuming your issues are with the doctrine and not with my no-doubt flawed explanation of it, I used to have the same issues you no doubt have. But recently, for me, the tide has been turning the other way.

As for your questioning as to whether someone is really saved, I don't see much of a practical and ultimate difference between someone who everyone thought was saved but REALLY wasn't, and someone who was and now isn't. They are both ways of explaining the same phenomenon, i.e., of people who once professed and acted in a certain way, and now don't. You explain it your way because you a priori believe in security, and I explain it my way because I a priori believe in free will. Under both explanations, the person, as it stands now, is doomed to perdition. To speak of "if's" (i.e., what if he had died then?) is to speak of a universe that has never existed.

I re-emphasize the :D in all of this.

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Post by John-Boy » Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:23 am

Okay you free willers ( :D ) - how does God determine if He's going to let you in the club? Sounds like it's your relationship with Him at the time of death?

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Post by tasty_weed » Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:37 am

John-Boy wrote:Okay you free willers ( :D ) - how does God determine if He's going to let you in the club? Sounds like it's your relationship with Him at the time of death?
It's God's decision based on his wisdom, justice and mercy, and His take on the sum total of my life's faith and work. The ball is entirely in the court of his mercy and justice, and I try not to make predictive statements about the outcome. In the meantime, I try to do my best to "work out my salvation with fear and trembling" in cooperation with the grace He so lavishly pours out on us.

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Post by sguthrie » Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:09 am

tasty_weed wrote: That is correct. As for "once saved always saved" (OSAS), I don't buy it. As far as I can tell, one must be a Calvinist to believe that. In my opinion, OSAS is the logical conclusion of a system that believes that God has eternally decreed individual's salvation, and consequently, other's perdition. And I believe that all humans have a shot at salvation, not just the elect. If our salvation is not eternally decreed, and we actually have free will, then we must have the free will to reconsider our allegiance to Christ. Otherwise, it's not really free.

I used to be Calvinist and really enjoyed the security of it, though.
I don't see that at all. I have free will whether to accept Christ or not. The point being is that once I TRUELY HAVE accepted him, there is no way in the world I would ever give it up because we've experience the joys and benefits.
tasty_weed wrote:It's God's decision based on his wisdom, justice and mercy, and His take on the sum total of my life's faith and work.
Oh boy, this is gonna be a fun group - I don't agree with that either. :D I don't think that our lifes work determines AT ALL whether we get into the club. I think if you sincerely accept Christ you're in, even if you NEVER live the life he wants you to lead. I also think there are varing degrees of reward in Heaven (and punishment in Hell) - I works will determine exactly HOW good or bad it is, but that one decision will affect IF it's good or bad.

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Post by Tyler » Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:58 am

If I may jump in, I would like to throw my hat in the ring as one who believes whole-heartedly in eternal security.

To say that one can lose his salvation is to say that some behavior is necessary to be qualified for it, whether this qualification comes before or after salvation. As soon as we say that, we have thrown grace out the window. I do not now, nor have I ever, deserved my savation. Salvation is by faith alone, and no action or behavior adds or subtracts from that.

While eternal security can perhaps be easier for a Calvinist because of election, I would argue that most Calvisnists don't have eternal security either! :) A Calvinist can get stuck in the question, "Am I really elect?" This stems from the expectation that a believer will necessarily persevere in good works. As soon as a Calvinist sins, or sins "too much", the necessary question of "true" belief flares up. Imagine the torture of this situation. Since there appears to be evidence of non-election, this person is in a bad situation. If they are not elect, there is nothing they can do about it!

Continuing with the thought that a saved individual must of necessity show his salvation in his works is to mix salvation with discipleship. As each of us that is a believer knows, following God and avoiding sin is not something we perfect here on Earth. It is a conscious, day-by-day day decision to set aside our flesh, and choose to follow Him by faith. Some will follow the urging of the Holy Spirit and make that choice, and, as we have all done before, some will ignore the Spirit and not follow. Just because we don't follow for an hour or a day or a year or ten years does not change God's redemption of us by grace through faith in Christ.

Salvation is a gift. By definition then, it is not then a reward or a wage. We cannot earn it. By salvation, what I mean is deliverence, after physical death, from eternal torment into eternally abiding in the presence of the loving triune God of the universe. This is eternal life. If, at the point of salvation, we have eternal life, then we cannot lose it, by its very definition. Elsewise what we received was not eternal.

I'd better stop before this turns into a full-blown paper! This sure is fun. I hope that I was able to write such that those that disagree with me are not offended. I offer my thoughts in the spirit of friendly and open discussion on this all important topic.

Best Regards,
Tyler

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Post by tasty_weed » Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:08 am

sguthrie wrote:I don't see that at all. I have free will whether to accept Christ or not. The point being is that once I TRUELY HAVE accepted him, there is no way in the world I would ever give it up because we've experience the joys and benefits.
You are defining "truly accepting" as one who perseveres to the end. That is your right, and many others do likewise. But it strikes me as being a fairly arbitrary definition. I define it as one who believes Jesus Christ is Lord and confesses it through his actions. And there are such people who eventually deny him as said Lord, for whatever of a variety of reasons.
Oh boy, this is gonna be a fun group - I don't agree with that either. I don't think that our lifes work determines AT ALL whether we get into the club. I think if you sincerely accept Christ you're in, even if you NEVER live the life he wants you to lead. I also think there are varing degrees of reward in Heaven (and punishment in Hell) - I works will determine exactly HOW good or bad it is, but that one decision will affect IF it's good or bad.
St. James, paraphrasing, states that "sincerely accepting Christ, even if you NEVER lead the life he wants you to lead" is a contradiction in terms. Faith without works is dead (useless) faith. I agree with what you said otherwise. I didn't say that "our life's work determines whether we get into the club". I said our life's faith and work. I say again, faith without works is DEAD. Works without faith is humanism. Separating the two seems useless to me. Works demonstrate faith. Faith motivates work. I agree that "levels" of heaven exist, correlating to our works. But surely Scripture teaches that no works = no faith = no club. I don't see how works can be removed from the equation. Few works = small faith = mustard seed = club. Great works = great faith = club. It may not be this linear in reality, but again, I can't see how works can removed.

Going back to the question of OSAS, this is precisely one reason why I don't believe it. Among other things, it leads to apathy. I think that someone who claims saving faith in Jesus Christ ought to feel a little uncomfortable at the lick of the flames at their feet when they "never" listen to him about the life he wants them to lead. Don't misunderstand me, I would never condemn someone proclaiming to be a Christian for sinful patterns in their life. We are still this side of Heaven, after all. And to quote myself here :D , sanctification is the result of a lifetime. For me to pass judgment at one timepoint along the way would be a little presumptuous.

As always, peace.

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Post by tasty_weed » Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:38 am

Tyler wrote:To say that one can lose his salvation is to say that some behavior is necessary to be qualified for it, whether this qualification comes before or after salvation. As soon as we say that, we have thrown grace out the window. I do not now, nor have I ever, deserved my savation. Salvation is by faith alone, and no action or behavior adds or subtracts from that.
I am affraid I am going to have to stop robbing my employer and desist with this thread for while. And I am also affraid that we are about to hit that point where these conversations usually become futile. You obviously believe what you believe, and you have stated it very clearly. I believe what I believe, and have probably stated it less than clearly.

Let me assure you, though, that I do not believe that salvation can be earned. Should that be the case, I would be in a lot of hot water. Neverthess, as I have pointed out elsewhere, I don't think scripture warrants the separation of faith and works. Making reference to your post, it's not that I think that my works would somehow all of a sudden disqualify me from membership, when they had previously qualified me. It is more related to disqualification through loss of faith. How is that loss of faith demonstrated? Through a drastic change in our priorities, as evidenced through works. You see, I am only saying what St. James says, that there is an intimate and unbreakable connection between faith and works. To lack one is to lack the other. And, as St. James, in his epistle, never condemns his readers to hell, I don't. I don't know the future. I barely know the present. What I do, with St. James, is warn people that they had better tend to their faith, and thereby bear fruit in keeping with repentance (works). To say that salvation is by faith alone is to deny the organic unity of faith and works. Is salvation a free gift? Absolutely! Do we, as human beings, have to accept that gift through repentance? Absolutely! Do people who have professed faith in Christ and have previously evidenced good works, but who subsequently choose to live in state of "blatant unrepentant sin" (which is to say, unrepentant sin) thereby demonstrate that they have lost their faith in Christ? I think, "yes". Another eloquent gentleman I was speaking with earlier thought, "no", because he thinks they had never been saved in the first place. I confess to not being privy to that information.

Peace and grace.

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Post by tonymccallie » Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:39 am

I'm in way over my head here, but here's my understanding.

Eph 2:8-9 " For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (NKJV)

Romans 3:27-28 "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." (NKJV)

I realize there is a ton in James about faith being dead without works, and a lot more than these from Paul about faith, so I won't quote them all here.

I think the problem is the focus. If you have time, read Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest" on Oct 28th CLICK HERE

We are saved not by any action we could possibly commit, but by the action of Jesus on the cross. Yes, faith without works is dead, but what does dead faith mean? What are the works? I have never seen that clearly laid out in scripture. I am imperfect, how can any work I do have any impact on what Christ has done for me? I think that's putting myself on His level, which I am NOT prepared, nor willing to do.

I will admit that I am immature in these issues, I want to learn. I know this issue has been debated by those far wiser than us. I do enjoy discussing with y'all though. Please take no offense from my simplistic thinking.

Blessings, Tony
Tony McCallie :pipe:

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Post by sguthrie » Wed Oct 15, 2003 10:18 am

tasty_weed wrote: St. James, paraphrasing, states that "sincerely accepting Christ, even if you NEVER lead the life he wants you to lead" is a contradiction in terms. Faith without works is dead (useless) faith. I agree with what you said otherwise. I didn't say that "our life's work determines whether we get into the club". I said our life's faith and work. I say again, faith without works is DEAD. Works without faith is humanism. Separating the two seems useless to me. Works demonstrate faith. Faith motivates work. I agree that "levels" of heaven exist, correlating to our works. But surely Scripture teaches that no works = no faith = no club. I don't see how works can be removed from the equation. Few works = small faith = mustard seed = club. Great works = great faith = club. It may not be this linear in reality, but again, I can't see how works can removed.
I agree that true faith will motivate works, but I also think that it's a cycle that feeds on it's self: you get saved, you get the "tickle" from the holy spirt to do works, that feels good, you get a "tickle" to do bigger and more sacrifical works, and so on. I think it's entriely possible to be saved, but ignore the "tickle" - maybe it's because you don't feel you're good enoug to do what God is asking, or your scared, or whatever. I'm not saying there would be NO works, but you would never come close to living the life Christ wants.

When I talk about "truly saved", I am talking about those who have sincerely taken Christ into thier lives and try to have a relationship with him. This is opposed to people who go to church, KNOW who Christ is, and does the works (maybe even a lot more than a lot of Christians) because it makes him feel good or it's what he "supposed" to do. These people would probably say they are saved, and probably even believe it, but have no relationship with Christ. From the outside looking in, you would never tell (Judas is a perfect example from the Bible).

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Post by tasty_weed » Wed Oct 15, 2003 11:26 am

sguthrie wrote:When I talk about "truly saved", I am talking about those who have sincerely taken Christ into thier lives and try to have a relationship with him. This is opposed to people who go to church, KNOW who Christ is, and does the works (maybe even a lot more than a lot of Christians) because it makes him feel good or it's what he "supposed" to do. These people would probably say they are saved, and probably even believe it, but have no relationship with Christ. From the outside looking in, you would never tell (Judas is a perfect example from the Bible).
But how else can "relationship" or "sincerely taken Christ into their lives" be defined other than knowing who he is (and thereby what he has done) and acting on that knowlege? What am I missing? What other litmus test exists? Isn't that the gospel? Believe who he is and repent (Judas didn't repent). Believing and repenting IS what we are supposed to do, and it will feel good.

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Post by sguthrie » Wed Oct 15, 2003 12:54 pm

Satan and the deamons KNOW who Jesus is. It's more than just a head-knowledge. I believe it's the act of giving your life over to him.

It's a poor analogy, but I've heard people use a chair as an example. You may believe that chair is that, that it will hold your weight, and it will be comfortable. But until you act on it by sitting in the chair, you're still standing there. If you believe Jesus is who is said he is, but never take the act of giving yourself to him, then I believe you're missing a vital step.

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Post by John-Boy » Wed Oct 15, 2003 12:56 pm

Uh-oh - "Act on it?" Now you're talking about works too!! :lol:

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Post by Tyler » Wed Oct 15, 2003 2:29 pm

This is a fun little debate. Thanks to all who are participating.

Let me address briefly the James 2 passage and point out that if that passage is talking about eternal life when it talks about being "saved" then James could have chosen a better example. Why would James use as his example demons, who have NO chance of eternal life even if they combine works with their belief?

Let me agree that when it comes to growing one's faith, works are critical. That is James's point. However, all faith is NOT related to salvation. Faith is necessary for a walk with God on a day-to-day basis, and this should be a growing situation (ref. James 1:3-4).

I am right in understanding the implications of your statements (tasty) that you do not yet have eternal life? (I am genuinely asking a question here...that is NOT a poke.) Would you say you have some partial version that becomes permanent when you die IF you have the right amount(?) of faith and work at death. Is that accurate? I infer this because if you HAD it then no matter what happened to your faith and works, you could not lose it. (Reference back to my previous comment about eternal life, by definition, being eternal... if you have it you can not lose it or it would not be eternal.)
To say that salvation is by faith alone is to deny the organic unity of faith and works.
I must again disagree. (Eph. 2:8-9 for starters) Salvation happens in a moment, at the instant of belief. No works are involved, it is a gift, and it cannot be revoked. Works are not an issue until AFTER salvation, at which point works and faith are team in the process of sanctification.
Believe who he is and repent (Judas didn't repent).


The implication of this statement is that Judas believed who Christ was but didn't repent and therefore wasn't saved. Please point me to scriptures which indicate this.
St. James, paraphrasing, states that "sincerely accepting Christ, even if you NEVER lead the life he wants you to lead" is a contradiction in terms.
I would take issue with the paraphrasing. (surprise! surprise! :) ) Rom 7 is a pretty clear situation that even Paul didn't lead the life he (and by implication Christ) wanted him to lead.
Going back to the question of OSAS, this is precisely one reason why I don't believe it. Among other things, it leads to apathy. I think that someone who claims saving faith in Jesus Christ ought to feel a little uncomfortable at the lick of the flames at their feet when they "never" listen to him about the life he wants them to lead.
This is a common criticism of eternal security, but it is not actually Biblically based. It is an appeal to people's motives for good works, and is claiming that without the threat of eternal damnation people will not behave themselves. This is not a proof.

Having said that, I do not for a second believe that eternal security removes one's accountability. It removes the threat of eternal torment, and praise God for that freedom!, but it does NOT remove accountability. II Cor. 5:9-10 declares that believers will stand before Christ to be judge for things done in the body both good and bad. It would be a long explanation (that I will gladly go into if requested to do so), but I believe that after our physical death there are plenty of opportunities for both reward and punishment for our life lived here on earth that do NOT involve eternal torment and that are temporary in nature.

My apologies for jumping around so much. I fear that when I go to read what I have just written it will be a garbled mess. I hope not. I hope what I have said is clear.

Again, thanks for the discussion guys. I really enjoy theological debates.

Best Regards,
Tyler

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Post by thegreatswalmi » Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:15 pm

This has become quite the little discussion! I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments and digesting a little. I have a few thoughts to add, if i may.
Tyler, i'm not sure i'm in agreement with some of your statements. let me see if i'm understanding you correctly. When i read the james 2 passage, i don't believe that James is saying "when it comes to growing one's faith, works are critical. That is James's point." James specifically states that "a person is justified by what he does, and not by faith alone." Lest i be criticized for taking this out of context, let's look at the whole passage. James is saying that faith and deeds are interwoven, linked beyond separation. Read verse 14...that verse taken in context looks fairly harshly on faith without works. I believe, lest i sound heretical, in saving grace and that faith is what is required for salvation. What i don't believe is that faith and works can be separated, as shown by james' language in chapter two...he says that one without the other is as a body without a soul. DEAD! That he used demons was not a proof that he was not talking about salvation, it was simply a juxtaposition for the purpose of contrast and comparison. I must also say that i do not believe that we are in perpetual doubt of our salvation...we hear in Paul that it is by Grace we are saved, through faith, and not by works (alone) so that no one can boast...leading me to believe that with faith (which is only considered alive when accompanied by the works which are faith's natural outpouring) is what will bring salvation by God's grace. That i don't believe in eternal security shouldn't even enter the debate about faith and works.

To sum up...mike believes:
a) God saves us by His grace, through our faith
b) Faith is not faith that has not works
c) Salvation is not a thing to be snatched away the moment we lapse into our old worldly way. It is, as tyler said, a gift which will not be rescinded unless it is cast aside (and i'll be glad to add more to that in a future post if desired)

your thoughts?

In love (which is above all things)
mike

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