Bobby

You’re preaching a works-salvation because you MUST have works to GET to heaven! That cuts right through TO THE LIE! Because works have NOTHING to do with the gift Jesus offers or it wouldn’t be a gift! Your MIXING discipleship “personal relationship” with the gift that Jesus said could be taken freely!

So your not fooling anyone, unless there are some Galatians around? But they even knew the truth at one time. If you don’t have the gift right what your left with is a gospel of your own makings and end up saying things like “faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone.” If that is what the person ALWAYS believed then their [sic] NOT saved because they are adding works to the proposition. And they end up telling people if they don’t have works they won’t get to heaven (perseverance of the saints).

I guess he’s responding to what I said previously, on this particular comment thread (I am responding to another respondent’s view of salvation — his name is Gary):

Gary’s view sounds a lot like Luther’s perspective on a Theology of Cross vs. the Theology of Glory (the publican who beat his chest, and the Pharisee who patted his own back in self adulation). A bad tree cannot produce good fruit; this is the premise that undercuts an “appearance” of good works as a basis for “knowing” that someone is “saved.”

It starts with “passive obedience,” and results in “active obedience.” We see this in Christ, it is His passive obedience (climaxing at the cross, becoming obedient to the point of death); and resulting in a life that is only dedicated to the will of the Father, and not the things of the flesh. What is required, first and foremost is a new heart; certainly ‘good works’ are called for in the NT . . . but never within the frame of “proving” salvation — but instead to bear witness as testimony and light to the wonderful life and works of Jesus Christ. This frame’s goal for good works is to magnify Jesus (to point others to Christ), and away from ourselves (thus is faith). This is contrary to the typical formula of “faith saves, but faith is never alone [i.e.good works].” (This interaction can be found here)

I am going to take this rather enigmatic character [Alvin] to task, a bit. It seems that whenever I make a comment over at the sites that he frequents (Free Grace theology sites), he takes a swipe at me [almost as if I scare him, and have him cornered or something]. He seems to think that I am a Five Pointed Calvinist, and assumes that everything I say on soteriology is informed by that particular framework. I think any time someone mentions Martin Luther or John Calvin’s name; or claims to be ‘Reformed’, that he automatically plugs in the only conceptual apparatus he has available to him — and that is that I MUST preach a works-righteousness akin to Federal Calvinism.

Now, anybody who has read me for any amount of time knows that this could not be further from the truth! Normally I just try to blow this kind of non-sense off; but Alvin’s comment (above) actually has gotten my ire up! When you read what he is asserting, he is claiming that I preach a non-saving works-righteousness salvation — by implication, questioning my own salvation.

As any critical person can see, my comment above is speaking contrariwise to any notion of Calvinist soteriology; I am highlighting the notion of what Luther called the theology of the cross versus the theology of glory (which does flow from a works-righteousness style of salvation, and is fitted best with the Pharisaical approach that Jesus confronted at the cross — see John’s “theology of glory” in his Gospel). The “theology of the cross,” says that man can do nothing for His salvation; only be passively acted upon by the Father at the cross, through his ‘vicarious’ atoning life, condemning our sin in His body. This is where the gift of eternal life is realized, not in anything we can do, but only in what Christ alone did do for us! This is where the “theology of glory” is put to death; good works, self-righteousness, and self-adulation (ironically the very attitudes that put Christ to death) no longer have a place in the Christian’s life. The basis of our justification is to be found right here! Good works, and any active obedience is all encompassed within the life of Christ; who in Himself is the source of the “good works” that we have been called to (cf. Eph. 2:10) do.

Briefly, in contrast, the theology of glory — what Alvin accuses me of advocating — never ‘starts’ with Christ; it starts with ‘self’ and works out to Christ. The good works, and faith that this system flows from is shaped by man seeking the approval and glory that man gives to man; it short-circuits the necessary link of a new heart (II Cor. 3) that Christ alone has provided (theology of the cross) in His life for us! The result is that these kind of folks deceive themselves into believing that their good works, which really flows from a ‘faith’ in themselves, indeed bear witness to their righteousness before God.

So in essence we have two competing views of ‘saving faith’ here, on the one hand we have a view that is based in Christ’s vicarious life, for us; and on the other we have a perspective that  is founded within man’s own “self-righteousness.” It is the latter of these that looks to his own good works as the basis and proof of election and salvation; the former looks to Christ alone, . . . who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

I just wanted to officially (as far as blogging is official) confound Alvin’s unfounded assertions about me; and challenge him to really think before he speaks about someone’s eternal destination. Good intentions and zeal only go so far!

Here is how Martin Luther summarizes what I have been clumsily trying to get at (and with this I will close):

… In doing these works, however, we must not think that a man is justified before God by them, for faith, which alone is righteousness before God, cannot endure that erroneous opinion. We must, however, realize that these works reduce the body to subjection and purify it of its evil lusts, and our whole purpose is to be directed only toward the driving out of lusts. Since by faith the soul is cleansed and made to love God, it desires that all things, and especially its own body, shall be purified so that all things may join with it in loving and praising God. Hence a man cannot be idle, for the need of his body drives him and he is compelled to do many good works to reduce it to subjection. Nevertheless the works themselves do not justify him before God, but he does the works out of spontaneous love in obedience to God and considers nothing except the approval of God, whom he would most scrupulously obey in all things. (Martin Luther, “Three Treatises: The Freedom of a Christian,” 295)

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