Monday, March 23, 2015

God’s plan of salvation is a beautiful thing.

Hi again Curt, On April 30th, 2013 2:49 am, you said:
Hi again De Maria (152)
I’m not sure, but I think our posts are playing leapfrog at times! So your 152 post popped up tonight but I don’t think it was there last night when I wrote 153… or at least not when I began writing. Anyway, let me respond.
I think so. Maybe that’s why I missed yours previously. By the way, please ignore my comment #159 and go to #160. They are the same message but in #159 I missed some block quotes and it went haywire.
Me: We consider it His grace at work in us:….Are we saying the same thing?
Yes, for the moment.
Concerning yielding ourselves to God’s will:
I said:
If so, then, wouldn’t you say that you must make a choice to abide in Christ?
You said:
Now I would say no, with the following explanation: … and you’re killing me with the KJV :-)
Oops! ;)
Let’s go back to Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Who is doing the “willing” and “working” in us? It is God. So it is not my will, but His will that is operative in the believer. You seem to accept this, but then also try to insert the will of the man back into the equation. You speak of yielding our will to His, and I agree we do surrender in this way. But we surrender under His power, and thus, even our surrendering is not the result of our will, but His. This is why, when we do acts of righteousness, it brings glory to God… and not ourselves. Everyone knows we are sinners, and yet look! he did something good and right! My life verse comes to mind… Matthew 5: 16… “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” If my good works are the result of my “free will” choosing to do good, then why not glorify me? Quite simply because it is not my “free will” that causes me to do righteous acts, but God’s will working in me… and thus, we give our glory to Him. This is where the Catholic and Reformed theologies differ the most, in my humble opinion. The Protestant says that any good we do is willed by God, and thus there is no concept of “merit” for good works. It could be compared to a surfer taking credit for a really good wave. Sure, he got to ride the wave and it was exciting and glorious… but God created the wave. Without God… zippo.
This is an awesome response, but I want to pare down to the big difference between Catholic and Reformed. You said, “This is where the Catholic and Reformed theologies differ the most, in my humble opinion. The Protestant says that any good we do is willed by God, and thus there is no concept of “merit” for good works. It could be compared to a surfer taking credit for a really good wave. Sure, he got to ride the wave and it was exciting and glorious… but God created the wave. Without God… zippo.”

You are right about that except for one thing. We don’t judge our merit, God does.
The Reformed will say,
“You work for your salvation, therefore, how much work do you need to do to enter heaven?”

Oh, man!  I missed a great opportunity there.  What a great metaphor!  I should have said, God is the Judge who says to us, "great job on that wave!  You get a 10!"  Or  "Sorry, you pooped out!"

But that is not how we look at it. We are not the judges of our works. God is the Judge. We simply do what we are supposed to do. Jesus said:

Luke 17:10
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

And St. Paul said something else:

Hebrews 6:10
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the [a]saints.

Now, why would he insinuate that God might be considered unjust if He did not remember our work of love? It seems that God takes into account our effort.

Now, it is true that we are nothing compared to God. But God is not comparing us to Himself. God gives us merit for works in the same way that He gives us credit for faith.

Genesis 15:6
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Psalm 106:30-31
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
30 Then Phinehas stood up and interposed,
And so the plague was stayed.
31 And it was reckoned to him for righteousness,
To all generations forever.
Abraham was given the merit of his faith. Phinehas the merit of his actions due to his faith.

Here’s how St. Augustine put the Catholic point of view:
“If then your merits are God’s gifts, God does not crown your merits as your merits, but as His gifts.” (ON GRACE AND PREDESTINATION)

In fact, we see the idea of claiming merit for oneself as a sin of presumption. One who claims salvation for himself, is judging himself meritorious unto salvation. And if he does so, without a special revelation from God, is putting himself in God’s place as Judge of his soul. He is like the Pharisee except instead of saying, “I am righteous because of my works.” He says, “I am righteous because of my faith.”

But if we can’t measure works enough to be saved, how does a simple human being measure how much faith it takes to enter heaven? Abraham didn’t have just a little bit of faith. Scripture says of Abraham:

Romans 4:19
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
Note that it is God who accounted him faithful unto righteousness. Abraham didn’t say, “I’m saved because of my faith.” Does every person who claims to be saved also consider himself “strong” in faith? Isn’t that God’s judgment to make?
On temptation… no need to project… I am perfectly capable of sin! Every human is tempted every day by sin. Those who say they are not are liars, lunatics, totally ignorant of spiritual things, or working for the other side, in my most humble opinion. The devil is relentless! So, yes, I am tempted every day… and I sin every day, sometimes knowingly… sometimes ignorantly. I confess and pray for forgiveness every day.
Regarding the concept of “choosing Christ”… Romans 3:10-12 kills this concept.
We read that very differently. St. Paul is here quoting Psalms 14 and 53 and it is clear that the ones who are not righteous are the fools who say there is no God.

Romans 3:10-12
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”

Whereas, St. Paul himself seeks after God. Do you think he is condemning himself as unrighteous?
Apart from God’s will, we cannot and will not choose Christ.
This is true. As Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).
God intercedes… first to save us, and then to sanctify us. Since it is God doing these things, victory in Christ is assured. No one can snatch the ones God has chosen. Jesus could not have said this if part of the salvation process relied on the believer. But, thank God, it doesn’t! Romans 8 is a beautiful treatise on this concept.
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
…37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let’s back up a little bit. There are a lot of “ifs” in the statements leading up to that passage:

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,

if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is [d]alive because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [e]through His Spirit who dwells in you.

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for

if you are living according to the flesh, you [f]must die;

but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery [g]leading to fear again, but you have received [h]a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,

if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Have you considered those?
There is no concept of free will in this passage. Before the beginning of time, God called, justified and glorified His flock. All past tense. They are called, not because they chose God… They are called to suit God’s purpose.
Called doesn’t mean forced. If we are called that infers that we must answer. We must respond to the Call.
When we fail in human weakness, the Spirit intercedes in ways we do not understand. Thus we conquer, not because we will it to be so, but because He willed it to be so from the beginning. Thus we will be forever preserved from separation from God. Paul confirms that the sheep cannot be snatched.
The way you read it. But I see that St. Paul also says, “if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you.” And I note that there is nothing there which says that the sheep know which one of them has the spirit of God and which doesn’t.
Its a beautiful thing! Can I get an amen?
God’s plan of salvation is a beautiful thing. But, I see His plan of salvation including our response to His Call. Our participation. I see nothing wrong in that. Can I get an amen?
And blessings to you as well,
De Maria

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