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We are Christians not Faith-ians

November 20th, 2012
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I have, over the years, talked to many Calvinists, in person and over the Internet. I always ask them, “Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are among God’s elect and are saved?” There are generally two reactions to that question: (1) A long and rather painful pause after which they say, “I hope I am. I do believe in Christ.” or (2) A quick, “Yes, I believe in Christ.” Now, let’s be honest here and admit that many Lutherans would answer in somewhat the same way. But here is the problem.

[Unfortunately there are some cranks who roam the Internet claiming to be Lutherans who also fall into this error. You shall know them by their sixth grade-level photoshopping skills. <g>]

If our confidence that we are saved is based on our feeling that we have faith, we will flounder. The answer we must always give to the question of “Do you know you are saved?” is not, “Yes, because I have faith” but rather, “Yes, because Christ Jesus died for me” and of course, in my opinion, the very best answer of all is simply to point people to Luther’s explanation of the Creed and say, “Here, this puts it very well.”

Never look to your subjective feeling that there is faith in your heart. Always, always, always, look to Christ and what He has done for you and the whole world. Do not confuse faith in faith, with trust in Christ. There is a key difference. If you believe you are a child of God because you feel you have faith, this is no better than the Mormon who tells you about the “burning in his bosum” or the Muslim who tells you he feels the Koran is true, etc.

Salvation rests on objective realities that have absolutely nothing to do with feelings or emotions. Faith is merely and only the receiving hand God gives us and into which He pours His good gifts, it is not the cause of our salvation.

We are Christians, not Faith-ians.

Read, and memorize, Luther’s explanation to the Apostles’ Creed. It is clear. Simple, Easy to understand and…true!

 

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  1. February 23rd, 2010 at 06:50 | #1

    I am often personally very worried with the tendency of many to have faith in their faith.

    This is a very important and astute message and I would like to cross-post, would you be so kind as to point me to Luther’s explanation of the Creed, so that I may add this to the post.

  2. jim_claybourn
    February 23rd, 2010 at 09:24 | #2

    from Luther’s Small Catechism:

    The Third Article.

    Of Sanctification.

    I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

    What does this mean?

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php

  3. February 23rd, 2010 at 10:17 | #3

    Thanks Jim.

  4. February 23rd, 2010 at 10:51 | #4

    Thank you Pastor McCain. This Calvinist is in 100% agreement with the concern of this post.

  5. Christian
    February 23rd, 2010 at 11:56 | #5

    Having never conversed with these Lutherans of whom you speak, I obviously cannot divine what they were thinking. However, I think your post does not adequately deal with the semantics of what I believe these Lutherans were trying to express. You fail to distinguish “faith in faith” (which truly is not faith) with “faith,” which is properly defined as “trust in the saving act of Christ.”

    You state that there is a difference between “Yes, because I have faith” and “Yes, because Christ Jesus died for me.” But I think those two statements are identical. In other words, what I believe these Lutherans were expressing is “I am saved because I believe in Christ who died for me, shed his blood for me and daily forgives my sin.”

    After all, Christ died for the sins of the whole world, believers and unbelievers (1 John 2:2). So merely saying that “Christ died for me” is not sufficient if one does not have faith. “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8) and “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). Merely pointing to one’s belief on Truth does not mean that one is pointing to a feeling. Rather, it could be pointing to Christ.

    Your commentator is correct to point out that faith does not come from us, but rather is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). While using the full explanation of faith may be a good way to witness, it does not change the fact that as long as your Lutheran friends understood faith properly, which I trust (or have faith in) they did through catechesis, they were not incorrect in saying they are saved through faith. In other words, once the word “faith” is properly understood, there is no difference in meaning between “Faith-ians” and “Christians.”

    • February 23rd, 2010 at 12:44 | #6

      @Christian: We are not saved by our faith, but by grace, through faith. This is a critical understanding that is lacking among us and the influence of “decision theology” has wreaked havoc throughout Lutheranism. We should always be on our guard against speaking too much about “my faith” and “our faith” rather than about Christ. There is a difference between Faith-ians and Christi-ans, and I’m sorry you seem rather determined to miss the point of the post.

  6. Craig
    February 23rd, 2010 at 12:18 | #7

    As former Calvinists I would answer “because of my faith”. And on the inside I was filled with doubt and terror. This terror is from doctrine of the Limited Atonement (the doctrines of “Limited” grace.) I asked Dr Mike Horton about how is he certain of his salvation and he told that same line “because of my faith.”
    The beauty of the Lutheran message is that every Sunday we sing about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the WORLD and yes I am in this world. Then my pastor feeds me the very body and blood of Christ and he says “For You.” This IS the gospel and it is most certainly true! Great post thanks Pastor McCain.

  7. February 23rd, 2010 at 13:26 | #8

    A number of members of my congregation who were formerly Baptists have told me that for the first time in their life they are confident that they are saved because we constantly point them–through Word and Sacrament– to the finished work of Jesus Christ and not to anything in themselves.

    • February 23rd, 2010 at 13:44 | #9

      Pastor Eckert, I’ve heard this so many times from converts to Lutheranism.

  8. jim_claybourn
    February 23rd, 2010 at 14:27 | #10

    Christian :
    Having never conversed with these Lutherans of whom you speak, I obviously cannot divine what they were thinking. However, I think your post does not adequately deal with the semantics of what I believe these Lutherans were trying to express. You fail to distinguish “faith in faith” (which truly is not faith) with “faith,” which is properly defined as “trust in the saving act of Christ.”
    You state that there is a difference between “Yes, because I have faith” and “Yes, because Christ Jesus died for me.” But I think those two statements are identical. In other words, what I believe these Lutherans were expressing is “I am saved because I believe in Christ who died for me, shed his blood for me and daily forgives my sin.”
    After all, Christ died for the sins of the whole world, believers and unbelievers (1 John 2:2). So merely saying that “Christ died for me” is not sufficient if one does not have faith. “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8) and “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). Merely pointing to one’s belief on Truth does not mean that one is pointing to a feeling. Rather, it could be pointing to Christ.
    Your commentator is correct to point out that faith does not come from us, but rather is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). While using the full explanation of faith may be a good way to witness, it does not change the fact that as long as your Lutheran friends understood faith properly, which I trust (or have faith in) they did through catechesis, they were not incorrect in saying they are saved through faith. In other words, once the word “faith” is properly understood, there is no difference in meaning between “Faith-ians” and “Christians.”

    Faith has to have an object.

    What is your faith in?

  9. February 23rd, 2010 at 14:35 | #11

    If I know that I am saved “because Christ Jesus died for me,” then is it true that I am saved because Christ Jesus died for me, even if I don’t know that He did? What if I’ve heard that He did, but, erroneously, I don’t believe it? Is one still saved because Christ Jesus died for him, despite what one knows or believes?

    How do you avoid universalism if faith is not at least a part of what is required for salvation? Am I thinking about this too much?

    I’m not a Lutheran, but I think I might become one someday. There are some things that don’t really make much sense to me, though.

    • February 23rd, 2010 at 15:06 | #12

      Mike, faith is the instrument, or means, God uses to deliver to each of us, personally and individually, the treasure of salvation Christ has won for the whole world. It is possible to think “too much” about this, or to demand from Scripture answers God has not provided: Why are some saved and not others? If we say, “God saw into the future and could see who would have faith” then faith has become the cause of our salvation, not the the means by which salvation is given. I would encourage you carefully to consider Luther’s explanation of the Apostles Creed, and then move on into the Book of Concord. God bless your studies!

  10. Richard
    February 23rd, 2010 at 15:19 | #13

    In other words, we’re saved by the object of our faith, not by our faith. And Luther could point to his baptism as something God has objectively done FOR him.

  11. Pr. Tom Fast
    February 23rd, 2010 at 17:08 | #14

    Jesus is the living Bread from heaven. The vitality is in the bread, not the chewing and digesting. The eating of the Bread is the process of receiving what the Bread has to give and living from it.

    To brag about faith is tantamount to chewing with your mouth open. Bad Table manners.

  12. February 23rd, 2010 at 18:35 | #15

    The commenter Christian made a valid point.

    I came from a Pentecostal back ground and I know what faith in faith means, but a person confessing faith in Christ may not necessarily be trusting in his faith as a form of works, so I believe Christian the commenter made a valid point.

    This pitting faith against the Gospel and not even wanting to mention it at all is quite a Waltherian style of doing things. I observe now that this is an American Lutheran style and not necessarily standard Lutheran attitude.

    For heavens sake, why belittle faith if it is properly understood? Jesus himself commends faith in him, he commended the centurion for it. And again for heaven’s sake, Jesus is the AUTHOR and FINISHER of faith! He even said to those who came to him, knowing that their faith was based on him, said “your faith has saved you”.

    Scripture says this faith is precious to God who himself is the creator of faith in the heart of the sinner/believer.

    Luther said faith (in the Gospel) is justification.

    LPC

  13. February 24th, 2010 at 05:31 | #16

    @L P Cruz
    Unfortunately, Mr. Cruz, it appears rather than read the post, you are grinding an axe of another sort. When the day and hour of your death come to you, you will not be looking to “your faith” for comfort, but to Christ Your Savior. And then you will understand the point of this post.

  14. Jen
    February 24th, 2010 at 06:47 | #17

    @Rev. Allan Eckert
    You can add me to that list! The constant torment of not measuring up kept me from prayer. How awful.

    See you at the St. Michael’s conference again this fall.

  15. Craig
    February 24th, 2010 at 06:59 | #18

    As someone who did not grow up Lutheran, it amazes me how some are not getting the point here. When we trust in our faith we trust in our works. Christ has saved us, not our faith. Growing up a lot of lip service was given to Christ being the only way to heaven, but in reality there was constantly a fear of not having a strong enough faith, not having done enough. Saying that I have faith is not the write answer and will always lead to questioning. We can not do enough to get to heaven. If you really have to believe in the faith you have, the answer is always going to be no, I have not done enough and my faith is not strong enough. The one true faith comes from Christ and God alone. It is not of my own doing and I can’t explain it. It is true, until I really understood Law and Gospel and it’s proper application to scripture, I was never sure I was “saved”. Now my focus is securely on Christ and the means by which he saved me and called me to Himself.

    Just a little shout out to an author you have quoted Rev. McCain, if this post makes no sense or is confusing read “The Spirituality of the Cross” by Gene Edward Veith. He explains Lutheran Theology in very well in this book.

  16. Michael
    February 24th, 2010 at 15:53 | #19

    As a Calvinist, I have to say amen to Pr. McCain’s point here. I, too, have often encountered the “I am saved because I believe” answer from those who would call themselves Calvinists. However, it seems to me that this is more of a phenomenon of Calvinistic evangelicalism in America. It is also true of Arminianism in America as well. It certainly wasn’t the attitude of the early Reformed theologians, such as Calvin, Beza, and Ursinus. This issue was addressed by several of the early Reformed confessions and catechism’s. In fact, it’s addressed directly in the Heidelberg Catechism in Q&A #61: “Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?” “It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God. And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.”

    So Calvinists who do answer the way Pr. McCain described need to be more involved in their own tradition more than evangelicalism, so heavily influenced by pietism. Lutherans, too, need to get away from Zinzendorfism!

    • February 24th, 2010 at 16:08 | #20

      Michael, can you tell me that Jesus Christ died for my sins, without any qualification?

  17. Michael
    February 24th, 2010 at 20:46 | #21

    Absolutely, Rev. McCain. Since I am not in the position to determine whether you are elect or not, I needn’t add any qualifications to that statement. I know that Jesus died for sinners, which you and I are.

    We would both agree that in order to benefit from Christ’s death we must have faith in the work of Christ, yes (with the understanding that the message of the atonement is what creates faith)? Either way, only those who believe and persevere to the end will be saved. I do not, however, believe I am saved because I believe in the atonement, but I am saved because of Christ’s atonement, therefore, I believe it. Nowhere in our confessions and catechisms are qualifications added to the message of reconciliation.

    • February 24th, 2010 at 21:14 | #22

      Whoops, you obviously can not look me in the eye and say, “Paul, Christ Jesus died for your sins” without qualification. The best you can do is say, “Well, since we are all sinners, and since you might be one of the elect, I can say Jesus died for sinners.”

      There’s a world of difference in the Calvinist preaching of the Gospel and the Gospel as preached by the Apostle St. Paul.

      Sorry, Michael. But this is where things fall apart in Calvinism.

  18. Mark Schroeder
    February 25th, 2010 at 08:17 | #23

    To Mr. Cruz @ #15

    “And again for heaven’s sake, Jesus is the AUTHOR and FINISHER of faith!”

    Yes, that is what the verse from Hebrews states but you have not cited the full verse, which begins, “…looking to Jesus Christ…” Not to ourselves but to Him alone. Christus solus. Not to our faith and ‘how we’re doing’ (The Law will make very clear we are not doing too well with our faith!), but to Him, and as you cite, to the One Who is “AUTHOR and FINISHER of faith”. Author: I’m not the Author of my faith, or yours, or you mine: Jesus Christ is, written into our craven hearts to redeem us according to His Word. Finisher: I’m not the finisher of my faith, Jesus Christ and if you will, without Him, I am finished, dead. With Him He finishes faith by His Word. How? The rest of the Hebrews 12:2, “… who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” How does the Lord author and finish our faith, the faith of the Church as we look to Jesus Christ? His death and resurrection! Hence, why am I Christian? Answer: Jesus Christ Who died and rose for me, a sinner, you too, and as St. Paul wrote of himself, the chief of sinners. Yes, many times, as I look inside of me and ‘my’ faith, I come up empty and despair, saying, I’m not faithful enough, and as Luther said in a different context: “Devil, tell me something I don’t know!” Many times Lutherans are said to “preach faith”, no, we are called together with all: “We preach Christ and Him crucified…” And note: “preach”, present tense verb for present tense sinners so that we look to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, in the glory of the Father, the one Lord makes, kindles and engenders the faith.

  19. February 26th, 2010 at 01:32 | #24

    ptmccain :Whoops, you obviously can not look me in the eye and say, “Paul, Christ Jesus died for your sins” without qualification. The best you can do is say, “Well, since we are all sinners, and since you might be one of the elect, I can say Jesus died for sinners.”
    There’s a world of difference in the Calvinist preaching of the Gospel and the Gospel as preached by the Apostle St. Paul.
    Sorry, Michael. But this is where things fall apart in Calvinism.

    Yes Pr McCain, That is exactly where things fell apart for me when I was a Calvinist. I praise God daily for opening my eyes to the truth of Jesus dying for me. I wept the first time that was said personally to me nearly 10 years ago. My heart goes out to our Calvinists that still do not have that assurance.

    God’s peace. †

  20. February 26th, 2010 at 10:49 | #25

    As a traditional Calvinist who has a great appreciation for Lutheranism, let me put in my two cents on this issue of limited atonement and the gospel presentation.

    Orthodox Calvinism *affirms* that there is a sense in which Christ “died for” all, that is, in the sense that the offer is a genuine offer for all who hear.

    Where we have our concerns with our Lutheran brothers is when one says that He “atoned for” the sins of all. We of course then ask the question, “If Christ expiated and propitiated–took away sins and turned away wrath–of all who ever lived, then why does Scripture still speak of many who are under God’s wrath?

    Orthodox views the universalistic passages as “offer language,” rather than “atonement language.” Indeed, we would not have passages that speak of God’s wrath if Christ atoned for all who ever lived. Likewise, Christ certainly did not atone for the sins of those who were in hell at the time of His coming.

    Furthermore, we have doctrinal concerns here as Calvinists. We see a connection doctrinally between His mediation before the Father in heaven as our Great High Priest and the ones for whose sins He atoned. Likewise, we see a connection to perseverance of the saints here.

    Of course, this could go deeper into concerns, on both sides, but I’ll rest here for a bit.

    • February 26th, 2010 at 11:01 | #26

      Josh, thanks for your comment. It is the “there is a sense” qualification of the Gospel that is the very problem we Lutherans earnestly want Calvinists to be aware of. The Calvinist desire to resolve what the Scriptures simply do not is the underlying cause of why Calvinists have such a hard time with a clear and straightforward proclamation of the Gopsel, in which there is no “if” only a “that.”

  21. Stephen
    February 27th, 2010 at 06:54 | #27

    Pr McCain, As an evangelical with Reformed roots I wanted to comment on this too. This “there is a sense” that Josh refers to is something which unfortunately has been heard less and less in the Reformed tradition. Many of the earliest Reformed teachers did indeed affirm that Christ’s death is for all, in a genuine sense. The hypothetic universalism that they espoused has however become sidelined in the later Reformed tradition. I think you are right that this is due to a desire to rationalize. Even the Canons of Dort (whence the well-known “5 points”) say something slightly different on the subject of so-called limited atonement than is popularly thought: they say that the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for all, but efficacious for the elect. So in other words, despite what is commonly stated, it is not the case that Christ’s death was only for a few; if so, how could it be sufficient for all? As I say, the later Reformed tradition has all but drowned out such a view of the scope of Christ’s death. However, there does remain a tension at the heart of historic Calvinism that is not always appreciated, sometimes denied. This tension lies in affirming that in a genuine sense God desires the salvation of all, and the offer of the Gospel to all is indeed well-meant. The difficulty of course lies in relating this to the doctrine of God’s hidden decree to elect some. We cannot reconcile these in a rational way, and here the historic Calvinist admits the limitations of our understanding, without seeing the need to deny aspects of the biblical revelation. But it has to be admitted that this is not the understanding of all Calvinists: some have indeed so prioritized divine election and sought a satisfyingly rational explanation that the genuine offer of the Gospel to all is effectively denied. These are the Calvinists who insist that the preacher cannot say indiscriminately “God loves you” or “Christ died for you”. They do not necessarily represent the best of the Calvinist tradition, however. On the original post, I agree with your concern here. We must always look to Christ. When we look within, even at our “faith”, then faith flounders. But when we look to Christ, that by definition is faith.

  22. Dcs. Kathleen
    November 20th, 2012 at 19:19 | #28

    I think that there is a point in this post that has been largely ignored, and that is that Pr. McCain points to the “feeling” that one has faith as the issue, not necessarily the faith itself. When we “feel” like we believe, everything goes along swimmingly; but when fear and doubt creep in, that feeling can waver, and someone who trusts in only the feeling will question whether he is actually saved.
    Knowing that “it’s not about you” is the only thing that can relieve that terror. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sin, given by grace through faith (which is also given) – well, that’s good news! (Even if you’re not sure if you “feel” that it is.)

  23. November 20th, 2012 at 20:46 | #29

    Put simply:
    Nothing in my hands I bring,
    Simply to the cross I cling.

  24. Jeff Stillman
    November 21st, 2012 at 12:49 | #30

    Concerning faith and its object, no one has put it better or more succinctly that Hebrews 12:2.

    “… looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …”

    -Jeff

  25. Nils
    November 23rd, 2012 at 13:12 | #31

    @Dcs. Kathleen
    Yep, you put it well. Feeling and knowing are too different things–feeling can be influenced by all manner of environmental factors, whereas knowing is empirical. For example, If I said that “I feel Christ has saved me,” it very well could be the result of something weird I ate at lunch (gas?), and after that passes, my feelings could be different (Scrooge chalks Marley’s ghost up to bad gruel–who’s to say that somebody doesn’t chalk up their supposed faith to how they’re feeling?). But if I say “I know that Christ has saved me,” that’s something that can’t be influenced by outside factors. That is ultimately between you and God, and as the Scriptures say, that faith in what Christ has done comes ultimately from Him as a gift. A burrito isn’t going to give you that kind of certainty–God alone does.

    So to say that you “feel” saved, you are, it seems to me, discounting that faith that God has given you and making it ephemeral. I can tell you there are times when I don’t “feel” saved (usually when reflecting on my sins), but I know what Christ did for me, and that changes everything. That’s what makes Christ’s sacrifice so amazing and wonderful–he took the weight of our sins upon himself to save us who are unworthy under the Law, and knowing that and accepting that (through God-given faith), I know that I have been saved by Him.

    I hope that all makes sense. I suppose it is possible to read this all as a chicken-and-egg sort of thing, but without God, there is no faith. If someone could post the relevant NT reference re faith as a gift, it would help bolster my argument–I can’t think of it off the top of my head.

  26. Mary
    November 24th, 2012 at 07:12 | #32

    Well, don’t Lutherans also have a problem, that Calvinists do not? Lutherans can lose their salvation. Calvinists are held firm by His hand, to the end(perseverance of the saints).

    So, if a Lutheran can ask, “Did Jesus die for me?”, a Calvinist can ask, “Will God hold you until the end, or will you fall away?’ Seems like both systems have their little weaknesses, eh?

    Luther certainly believed in election(and therefore, limited atonement, as far as efficacy goes). And he wisely told us not to delve into this too deeply, which makes good sense to me.

    One thing is for sure, Lutherans have a very shallow view of what Calvin and other reformers taught. Go back before LCMS, to the really old Lutherans, and you find much agreement with Calvinists. Walther and Pieper…meh…they really swung Lutheranism towards American revivalism. Too bad, really.

    • November 24th, 2012 at 08:01 | #33

      Mary, the Scriptures clearly teach that people can, and do, reject Christ. The lesson of King David is very illustrative. Calvinism holds out a false hope and a false interpretation of the Gospel, in two directions. First, via the theory that God creates some people specifically to damn them, second, that “once saved always saved” the “elect” are assured of salvation, no matter what they do. Both notions are contrary to Scripture. You misunderstand Martin Luther if you attempt to pull him into the Calvinist TULIP camp. It always amuse me how Calvinists think they understand Martin Luther better than Lutherans. I rarely find a Lutheran making such boastful claims about John Calvin. In fact, we don’t really care much for or about Calvin to begin with. I’m not even sure Cavin would recognize the Synod of Dort style “Calvinism.”

  27. November 24th, 2012 at 18:42 | #34

    Mary,
    You ask, “Will God hold me until the end?” and the answer is “yes” for Jesus teaches that very thing: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John10:27-29 What a wonderful Gospel promise!

    You ask, “Will I fall away?” and the answer is that I must be warned of that very thing for the Bible teaches that possibility! “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart,leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:12-14 What a stern warning of the Law!

    What you think you have exposed as a Lutheran weakness is actually a reflection of the fallacies of your own Reformed theology in mixing Law and Gospel and exalting your reason over the plain Words of Holy Scripture.

  28. CRB
    November 24th, 2012 at 21:35 | #35

    Actually, I prefer, “Calvin and Hobbes”! : )

  29. Robert F
    November 25th, 2012 at 18:47 | #36

    @ptmccain
    Can those who have TRULY come to trust Christ for salvation, and TRULY repented of their sins, subsequently lose or renounce their faith and be damned?

    • November 26th, 2012 at 09:38 | #37

      By putting the word “truly” in your question, you have put your finger on precisely the doubts that Calvinism’s theological system burdens people with.

  30. November 26th, 2012 at 11:32 | #38

    Robert,

    The writer to the Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has already answered your question.

    “Take care, BROTHERS, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to FALL AWAY from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:12-14

    These words are written to fellow believers who are brothers in the faith, warning them of the dangers of falling away from faith in Christ. In fact, the purpose of that an entire epistle is to warn Christians of the danger of falling away!

  31. November 26th, 2012 at 16:38 | #39

    @Rev. Allan Eckert

    Pr. Eckert,
    Thanks for these two comments to both Mary and Robert. Both of these texts have long-been engrained in my mind and heart through our LCMS pastors, for which I always give thanks. Now in my mid-sixties, I have peace in knowing that Jesus holds me with Him and I have the help of the Holy Spirit to keep me from falling away.

    Some people think that these 2 texts are contradictory but you have shown them as they are. I am consoled often by these words and hope that others will have that, too.
    SueJ in NJ

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