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February 27, 2013


But not all Christians believe that, do they?

Some believe that righteousness is imparted at baptism don't they? Which means the baby, when baptised, enters the prelapsarian state and only concupiscence remains? I think that's the Catholic and Orthodox view, isn't it?

in other words, not all Christians believe there are reprobate or that we're totally depraved, do they?
And what about Unconditional Election and the Perseverance of the Saints ('Once Saved, Always Saved')? How does that tie with God caring about our behaviour? Doesn't it mean were saved. Period?

I'm not a Calvinist, so I'm sorry if I've misunderstood these ideas, but they seem to imply God is arbitrary as to who's saved and who's damned so how do behaviours matter?

I'm really confused!

Any light shed on any misunderstanding, gratefully received, and I apologise in advance if I've got them all wrong and misrepresented them!

Hi Peter, you raise a few good points that I hope to let the scriptures begin to answer, maybe you can let me know what you think about these in relation to some of what you've written.

"Eph 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
Eph 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Eph 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Eph 2:7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Eph 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Regarding another part of you post, more Ephesians

"Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Eph 1:8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
Eph 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
Eph 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Eph 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Eph 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Christian do it imperfectly, but good works are necessary evidence of being In Christ. If one has no good works, they have no reasonable expectation of assurance.


The Roman Catholics believe that good works save. (And honestly, if you think good works save, why would you be anything other than Roman Catholic?) But even they will say that there is no possibility of a person doing good works unless first redeemed by Christ and continually empowered by Christ (through the sacraments). Catholics might allow that natural faculties were not tainted by Original Sin. But other aspects of human nature, in particular the mastery of our passions, are bad enough to render the keeping of the Law impossible without the miraculous assistance of God.

So the Roman Catholic can still maintain a Full Strength view of the Law...which is one of the hallmarks of Christian thought.

Christians have this in common: we do not dumb-down the Law so that it can be followed. We recognize that the Law is perfect and beyond the natural ability of any human to keep to God's satisfaction. God does not grade on a curve, the only passing grade is 100%, and every human starts with his score already in the minus range.

Reformers, of course, have built their system upon a Full Strength view of the Law by preaching salvation by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone apart from works of the Law. The Law only condemns us, and the condemnation is withering. It is only because Christ is greater than the Law that we have any hope.

Anyway, I think that all Christians do believe in a Full Strength view of the Law much as Amy described above.

"Wannamaker learned this lesson early, but I personally had to blunder through this old world for a third of a century before it even began to dawn upon me that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don't criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be." ~Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

"The truth is, we believe in decency so much--we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so--that we cannot bear the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice it is only for our bad behavior that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves." ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"By and large we do know right from wrong, but wish we didn't. We only make believe we are searching for truth-so that we can do wrong, condone wrong, or suppress our remorse for having done wrong in the past." ~J. Budziszewski, The Revenge of Conscience

Brad B.
Thanks for the verses from Ephesians.
I realise now I was unclear - I meant 'how do behaviours matter to Calvinists'.
But those are great passages!

Thanks WL. Lots to ponder!

Thanks for the quotes, Sam. Taken a copy of them!

Great post, Amy.

Peter, if you're asking in terms of the post (i.e., regarding the question of getting into heaven), our behavior matters in that nobody will enter heaven alone on the basis of his behavior, contrary to the man's belief that I referred to.

I wasn't addressing behavior after salvation, which seems to be the different question you're asking. Behavior both before and after salvation was covered by Brad in his quotes of Ephesians above. After salvation, God of course still cares about our behavior, so thankfully our union with Christ (who perfectly meets His standard) continues just as it began--by grace.

The security of our union with Christ in no way negates the fact that we were recreated by God in salvation to do good works, as Ephesians says (see also Romans 6, Colossians 3, and Titus for why we set aside sin in order to reflect the truth and goodness of God and the gospel).

Thanks for the important clarification and additional points, Amy! I see what you're getting at now.

I'm just drowning a bit in all the different teachings that seem so confusing!

You might have some added confusion if you're hearing explanations of Calvinism from people who aren't Calvinists. For whatever reason, I rarely hear a fair representation that way. It does happen sometimes, but it's rare. There's just a lot of misunderstanding out there. If you'd like to read a fairly brief summary to get a better handle on it, try this.

Thanks for the link, Amy. It's very helpful.

It seems to me that few positions are represented fairly across the denominational divides.

I suppose being an Ambassador requires that we don't do this, and so what we have to do instead is something to ponder...

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