Saturday, March 21, 2015

St. Paul was teaching the message of the Old Testament

OOPS! That was unreadable. Here goes again.
Cont’d from De Maria April 30th, 2013 12:14 am :
Hi Curt,
You said:
From these two Scriptures (and other supporting), we know 1) that God chooses whom He will save, 2) that the ones He has chosen are given to Christ and 3) they cannot be snatched away.
In my opinion, there are too many Scriptures which show that 1. God wants us all t be saved and has given us all the opportunity to be saved. And 3. men can be self-deluded and consider themselves saved when they aren’t and 4. that God is judge and it is not our business to presume ourselves saved but only to do the will of God.
No, then yes. No, calling Jesus Lord does not make you one of the elect. Judas called Jesus Lord. I hope we can agree that he was not, as it turns out, one of the elect.
1. The key words here are “as it turns out”. But anyone observing the Twelve before the betrayal would have thought that Judas was one of the more important Apostles. He held the money bag.
2. Did Jesus choose (i.e. “elect”) Judas to be an Apostle or not?
3. So, it would appear that Judas lost his election.
As you pointed out, many who cry Lord, Lord will not be saved. Then yes, we agree that only the elect have the Holy Spirit.
Is this relevant to this point?
Hebrews 6:4-10
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift andhave been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, [a]since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame
These people are “partakers of the Holy Spirit” and “then have fallen away”.
So no, I don’t agree with that logic because it diverges from the John scripture cited above… that God chooses and that our will has nothing to do with that choice, as Romans 9:16 clearly shows.
Ok. I guess I’ve addressed this enough above. I’ll await your response to those comments.
I, of course, cannot answer why someone does this or that.
I meant in reference to 1 Corinthians 12:3, “no one calls Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit”.
Ok, let’s stop here for a minute. Let’s look at Ephesians 2…
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Faith is a grace given us by God. True. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
To me, this is a reference to the Old Covenant of works. It is also a reference to the Pharisaic attitude highlighted in Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
1. We are no longer under the Covenant of works. But under the Covenant of grace. Where, according to Catholic Teaching, we are justified by faith in the Sacraments, the fountains of grace and grace is poured into our hearts.
2. We are never supposed to judge ourselves or exhalt ourselves. God is our judge. It is He who saves us.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Two things here.
1. Jesus made us all. He made everything which is made. We were His workmanship before we were justified by faith. And the Law of God is in all of our hearts. The Commandments are the works which we are expected to walk in from the time we are old enough to understand. Therefore, this refers to our conception in the flesh.
2. But it also refers to our regeneration in the waters of grace by the Holy Spirit. Where we are born again children of God and still expected to walk in the works which God prepared from the beginning.
We know that Scripture must agree with itself, and Paul clearly states that we are not saved by our works. So what gives? I think Galations 2 provides the answer…
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Precisely. That is why works are so important for our salvation. Because God is working through us. Our good works are His works.
My good works are not the result of my will acting right. They are the result of Christ dwelling within me. Thus Paul states that we are saved by grace through faith… both are a gift from God. Our flesh lives in constant tension with the will of God. As He gives us faith, we trust His will more, resulting in the good works “which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”. So, of course, the sheep whom God chose from the beginning, who were given to Christ, who are indwelled by Christ, who do the will of the Father because Christ lives in them… they are the ones who will be welcomed into the heavenly kingdom as stated in Matthew 25. Those who are not “those” will not be welcomed.
I don’t see anything there with which I disagree outright. I would tweak that first sentence and say, “My good works are a result of my free will yielding cooperation with God.”
I think Rom 6:16 says it very well:
Romans 6:16
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin [a]resulting in death, or of obedience [b]resulting in righteousness?
So, I have placed all of the verses in context with each other. I am curious how you would explain a works doctrine that does not contradict Ephesians 2 and Romans 9.
Well, for one, we don’t consider our soteriology a strictly “works” doctrine. We consider it by “faith and works”. And 2, I think I’ve addressed both verses as you brought them up but still Eph 2 does not say we are saved by “faith alone” and Catholic doctrine teaches that we are saved by faith. Our works are a result of our faith and evidence of our faith.
And Rom 9, is not speaking of two babes, one condemned to hell by God and one chosen for heaven, as you seem to think. But it is in a metaphorical way explaining the history of the people of Israel. And St. Paul is warning the new Christians, not to make the same mistakes.
I would also be curious to know this: If our salvation depends in part on our “free will” deciding to do good works, what level of good works are required to achieve salvation? 100% perfection? 75% perfection? 51%? I have never met anyone who achieved 100% always in God’s will. Very few would make 50%. So how much?
1. Perseverence to the end is required.
2. We are not the Judge. God is our Judge:
1 Corinthians 4:5
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
5 Therefore do not go on [a]passing judgment before [b]the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
Acts 16:31 … They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” We know from the aforementioned verses that the ability to believe is a gift from God.
The point I was trying to make is that the people in Matt 7:21 seemed to believe they were saved.
So let’s look at Matthew 25 to see what it actually says. There are two groups of people:
1) Sheep; “you who are blessed of My Father; Inheritors of kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
2) Goats; “accursed ones”; into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels
Let me ask a question… Do you get to choose your inheritance? Do you earn your inheritance? And the answer is: No and no. You are given an inheritance, not because of what you do, but because of who you are… or more precisely, whose you are… in this case, chosen by God.
Colossians 3:24
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
What reward is this?
Revelation 22:
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
We don’t believe we “earn” an inheritance. We believe we “merit”. The difference is between a laborer and a son.
This Scripture again confirms that those who are blessed of the Father were chosen from the beginning.
All were chosen from the beginning. But some, like Esau, despised their inheritance:
Genesis 25:34
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Good works are evident because of “whose we are” … blessed by God, as confirmed by Paul and others.
True. This is why we say that faith alone is dead. Good works proceed from faith.
Now on the judgment day, every knee will bow and confess Christ as Lord. The truth will be known and confessed by all. And every person will want to be saved… but not all will be. So I don’t really buy that these all professed Christ in life and are now surprised that they didn’t make the grade. Like a criminal, they all proclaim their innocence before the judge.
I understand. We view it as self-delusion. Much like the Pharisee of Luke 18:11.
Actually I agree.
But this verse does not speak directly to salvation  But John 14 speaks directly to relationship. And a relationship with God is necessary for salvation, is it not?  and you left out a few very important preceding verses…
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
 Again and again we see that it is Jesus / the spirit of Truth / the holy Spirit abiding within us that makes the difference in our behavior… not a newfound triumph of our “free will”. So, again, no our salvation does not come by good works. Rather, our good works are the result of our salvation.
 But that doesn’t speak directly of works. Whereas, John 14:15-16 says,

John 14:15-16
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
According to that order, love will induce us to keep the commandments and then Jesus will pray to the Father on our behalf.

I again quote Romans 9….
 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.  19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  
 It seems pretty clear that all are not saved because God chose it to be that way. Why did God offer His first covenant only to Abraham and his descendants?
 That doesn’t mean that only Abraham and his descendants were saved though. How about Melchizedek and the people of his kingdom?

In order to obey Christ, we must be saved. Romans 3…
“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.”
 This is a reference to the Old Testament, Psalms 14 and 53. The “none who are righteous” refers to “fools who say in their heart, there is no God”. Essentially, atheists or the wicked.

If none at all were righteous, what about Abraham? Did God not say of him, “I credit this to righteousness”?
Let’s back up a second. Paul tells us in Ephesians that salvation is a gift from God.
A gift, according to Webster is “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation”. If you give me something and I pay you for it, that is a “purchase” not a gift. Our salvation was purchased by Christ on the cross and given to us as a gift. Do we feel gratitude for that gift? Absolutely! Do we respond to that gratitude? Absolutely! Do we have enough in our account to pay Christ back? Not a chance!
 We agree then. Because I didn’t say we had enough to pay Him back in full. I just said we should feel an obligation to the Spirit in gratitude for God’s gift to us as it said in Romans 8.
But that is not what He desires anyway. He wants us to pay it forward… to offer the same grace to others that He has shown to us… to be “Christ-like”.
 Exactly! He wants us to be fountains of His grace.
But we deceive ourselves if we think that will somehow pay Christ back for what He has done for us. That would put our grace to others on the same par as His grace to us, which of course is a non-starter.
 Agreed. I didn’t say we could pay back in full. But that we should do the best we can. To illustrate, a young girl drowns in a pool. A total stranger comes by and using cpr, revives her. Can her parents ever pay that person back? No. But in gratitude, they should at least become his friend.*
I’m going to skip ahead a tad…
Ok… Let’s look at another part of Romans 9…
10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
God chose before they were born and had not done anything good or bad. Why? So that His will would be done NOT because of works, but because of Him who calls. So much for the concept of God calling the righteous. Again Romans 3… The is NONE righteous… no one seeks God. God chooses us according to His plan… period. We flatter ourselves (and deny God) if we think we are good enough to choose Him.
 Again, I don’t understand that verse as you do. What I see is that St. Paul is quoting Malachi. And in Malachi, God explains to the Jews why the Jews are being punished. I think I already addressed this above, so I won’t dwell on it. Bottom line, I don’t think that God brought Esau into the world to destroy him. Esau, first despised God’s birthright given him as a free gift, then God began to despise Esau. Especially since Esau took on many pagan wives.
Regarding 35, I agree. But we must not confuse rewards in heaven with salvation itself.
 We don’t. But we believe that life everlasting is itself a reward. See Rev 22:12-15.
As I stated earlier, our flesh is in constant tension with God’s will.
 Agreed. Although, we do believe that a few Saints have achieved total freedom from sin in this life.
If God chooses to save us, that is a done deal.
 Agreed. Two caveats.
1. Most of us don’t know who has been elected to salvation.
2. Some have received special revelation from God. But that is a personal revelation such as the one that the Thief on the Cross received. It does not affect anyone else.
Then God begins the sanctification process, giving us faith to overcome our sinful nature.
 Two things again.
1. We believe the justification/sanctification process begins on the day one is conceived and ends the day God judges us eternally saved or condemned.

2. We believe this process is accelerated by the Sacraments which Jesus Christ established.
This internal spiritual battle goes on until death.
 Agreed. Because during our life, we can exercise our will. It is we doing battle with evil, by the strength of our wills.
As our faith grows, our victories over sin increase and our good works become evident. Our rewards in heaven will depend on our perseverance in the battle… but not our salvation.
 We believe both. We consider salvation a reward for our perseverance in doing well (Rom 2:7).
Regarding 38, again I agree. God gives us faith to do battle, and like any leader, He expects us to use it.
Well, I think that Romans 9 debunks the notion of salvation by righteousness. Nonetheless (this will sound schizo) I agree that God saves the righteous and condemns the wicked.
 Lol! Yea, but that is the right conclusion, in my opinion.
The issue is one of “cause and effect”. I believe Scripture is clear that there are none who are righteous.
 I believe that is a widely held misunderstanding of St. Paul’s message. One which doesn’t take into account that St. Paul was teaching the message of the Old Testament, Psalms 14 and 53, that the one who denies God is wicked.
Any righteousness we have comes from God. Therefore, we are saved by God and any righteousness we display results from His indwelling.
 Absolutely. But again, we believe He gives us the ability to choose to cooperate with His grace or to deny it.
The alternative version, to me, is backward. It says we must find it in ourselves to act righteously, and that God will then save us.
 That is not what we believe. We don’t have anything which God didn’t give us. Including the free will to choose right from wrong.

Those who choose to do right and persevere to the end will stand before the Just Judge and receive the reward of eternal life.

Those who choose to do nothing at all and those who choose to do evil and persevere to the end doing so, will also stand before the Just Judge and receive the reward of eternal punishment.
That is as we believe.
Ok… well that is a very context sensitive verse. The problem in Corinth was that the people were aligning themselves with different teachers… some with Paul, some with Apollos, some with Cephas. If you look at 1 Cor 3:5, you get where this conversation is coming from, and going. They were trying to take different teachings and read between the lines. Paul is admonishing to stay with what is written and don’t go beyond. Ironically, I think your read of this Scripture goes well beyond what it is saying.
 True. But that context does not affect the direct message of 1 Cor 4. In that verse, St. Paul is telling them that he is not concerned with their judgment and does not even judge himself, but leaves the judgment to God.
I think this is all absolutely consistent with itself, and what I have said thus far. What is born of God? Our faith. Jesus said that it all boils down to two things… love God and love your neighbor. Those whom He saves will do these things. Those whom He does not save will not.
Regarding your last question… yes as He give me grace and strength so to do, but not perfectly. I can tell you that there has been a radical transformation over the Christian portion of my life. I am imperfect in the flesh, but perfected in Christ
 Hm! Very good answer. The answer that I’ve ever gotten, invariably, is, “No one can keep the Commandments but Christ.” However, your answer is more akin to mine. I would say, “I do my best. If I fail, I repent and am confident that God forgives.”
In fairness, your last question is a bit of a straw man, based on your understanding of John.
 Well, its based upon the understanding I’ve been led to by many Protestants who say that we never achieve righteousness. But that we are so called, “snow covered dung heaps.”
God grabbed me by the collar and pointed me in a different direction. As I said before, there has been a radical transformation over the Christian portion of my life. I would attribute this transformation to Christ working in me… not to my free will. There are two types of people… those who are moving toward Christ, and those who are moving away. When God chooses us, He promises He will indwell us, and He will work out His purposes through us. Those who claim to be in Him, but do not act accordingly are liars, and the truth is not in them. This is all consistent with Scriptures and statements made above. That said, we must also be aware that Christ meets people where they are, so one man’s sinner is another man’s saint… that is to say, we are all at different places on the sanctification walk. The question is not so much where we are as it is, which way are we pointing? I love my wife even more than the day we married 30 years ago. My relationship with Christ is just like that. I love Him more every day… and I pray for, and find, new ways to be the grace of Christ to others every day. This is not me… it is Christ working in me!
 Beautiful statement! I feel the same way. One little tweak, I would say, “I would attribute this transformation to Christ working in me… strengthening my will to do righteous works by His grace poured into my heart.
 To you too, I’m enjoying the conversation immensely. But I didn’t do a good job of paring down as I intended. I hope it hasn’t gotten too long.
De Maria
*  That's a reference to a friend of mine.  Who's name I've forgotten.  But he actually did that for someone.  And her family became his friend.  May they be eternally blessed.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great dialogue De Maria! I hope this yields fruit!

    God Bless


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