Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

A look into the mind of one of the most random, crazy people in all the land.

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Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

For we are Justified by both Faith AND Works

Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Please don't look upon the title of this post with scorn, for it would miss the point of what I am going to say here. For indeed I agree with the Lutheran view that we are justified by Grace alone through Faith alone as a result of Christ alone. If that is the case....what do I mean by the statement that we are saved by both faith and works? The works I'm talking of Evangelicals believe save us also....for they are the works of Christ in all His earthly life, death and resurrection.

Indeed, it is Christ's work in fulfilling the Law perfectly and His death on Calvary's Cross that makes it possible for us to be forgiven as He is the paschal lamb, and through His resurrection death has been conquered!

What is important to know about justification and salvation, is that while you are saved upon your justificaiton, you only begin upon the path set before you by God. Think of it this way. You are living when you are conceived, but you don't fully "live" in this world until you develop and mature. The same analogy can be shown with our spiritual lives. We are justified by the faith we are given by the Holy Spirit, and indeed this is not our work, but following that true faith gives birth to good works. In James, we are told that faith without works is strange! Does this mean that it is possible for faith to die contrary to what the Calvinists teach concerning apostasy (falling away), yes! Hebrews 6:4-6 declares "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentence, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace (NIV)."

It is possible for us to fall away! But what if I falter in my faith, was baptized in Christ, then declare myself to be an atheist and leave the church....can I be saved again and reenter the fold? Of course! For indeed, the one unforgivable sin is declared in the Gospel of St. Matthew 12:22-32 and the Gospel of St. Mark 3:22-30 and that is "blaspheming against the Holy Spirit." In other words, it is the defiant rejection of the Holy Spirit who imparts the saving grace of Christ that is unforgiveable, not because God is a hateful God but because He loves his creatures enough to not FORCE love on them. Contrary to the Calvinist understanding, He does not predestine some to salvation and others to damnation. He predestines some for salvation as indeed he predestined St. Paul to do His work, but that does not mean He predestines all the others for damnation! Christ's sacrificial atonement was not for the elect, but for all the world (the Gospel of St. John 3:16, 1 John 2:2) and thus is His mercy shown.

From those who might be lost, I'm painting a picture for of a journey. The common goal of the Reformation (or I should say Martin Luther) was not to split from the Roman Church (for indeed, he did not wish to splinter the Body of Christ more than it already was), but to reform it's errors concerning the authority it gave itself which it put as equal to Scripture, and its subsequent overstep of boundaries declaring such things as the existence of Purgatory where the actual sins of a departed believer are cleansed by expitiatory punishment, the attribute of the saints with power without recognizing Christ as the source of those powers and gifts, and the claim that to be justified in the sight of God one must have faith and do good works (of which the concept of Purgatory and the suffering of a person due to their sins which were not undone by enough good works before they enter Heaven came into play).

But indeed, I will caution that as justification means salvation, it does not mean that you will remain in Christ throughout your whole life. The equivalent is going on a hike and assuming that because you have started the journey you will finish it at the goal. Indeed the life of a Christian involves another process, that of Sanctification, where we become "more Christlike" by growing closer to Christ and the reception of Grace through the Sacraments, Scriptures, and Prayer. We as Christians should focus more attention on helping others start the journey, but also to continue it.

Dischord over the salvation of other Christian groups is shear nonsense, and is what the Devil truly craves. For one group to say that another group is not saved usually boils down to what others say is required of salvation. Well let's see. Faith in the resurrected Christ and His Sacrifice are required, as well as the acceptance of WHO you should have faith in (hence the importance of the Trinity as three persons in one God, not three gods, but one having different persons who do not mingle) lest you feel the Muslim god can forgive your sins (for he is declared to be one, thus denying the Christian Trinity).

You are not judged by your doctrine, but by your faith in Christ! By this definition, the Protestants are saved (not Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses because the prior declare a different and truly heretical Christology and the latter because of their denial of the divinity of Christ and acceptance of the resurrected Christ not as God but as the Archangel St. Michael), the Evangelicals are saved, the Eastern Orthodox are saved, and (horror of horrors) the Roman Catholics are saved. For those who believe in Mary as co-Redemptrix however, it is indeed highly questionable and their salvation is akin to skating on paper thin ice with the thinnest possible blades while carrying an elephant on your back.

For those reading this who are not Christians and who feel offended by what I'm saying, please understand that I am not saying there is no hope for you, for indeed in Christ there is hope and He is waiting with open arms. Please also understand that I am not offended by your saying that I am going to hell because I don't worship the Muslim god, or the Jewish god, or that it doesn't matter, we'll rot in the ground because their is no God. These are your beliefs and what you say you feel and believe as fact. If you are offended at anything you should be offended that I am not delcaring this as my opinion but as fact. As I told an agnostic friend of mine who was worried about acceptance among Christian friends because of his lack of faith I told him it is not up to us to judge, but God.

I hope that the Christians reading this will redouble their efforts to learn what it really means to live the light of Christ everyday. I hope they understand that Satan and his armies are out there in the world waiting to devour anyone who they meet, and that our divisions only help him. We should not sacrifice truth for unity, but neither should we ignore our similarities and remain in disunity on the fundamental issues. The chess game has begun, and the white is scattered with no clear plan for victory, while the black has jumped ahead several moves and has a clear, cohesive plan.

Please do not let the Body of Christ be broken because we let our sinful egos get in the way.

Glory be to God the Father, the Son (+), and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever, amen.


Blogger Tony said...

Seriously, dude. I'd take a gander at some seminary applications.

12:20 AM  
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12:02 PM  

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