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August 25, 2014


1--Realize that they weren't truly saved in the first place.


3--Share the true gospel with them.

4--Be faithful in the Christian life.

if someone walks away from christianity it means they have learned to think for themselves--leave them alone. keep your relationship with them, just don't talk about "god". life for many of us (myself included) is so much better when we leave the church.

Skip item #1, from d's list. Everything else I agree with. So does Brett it seems.

Here's a conversation with #1 in action:

Son, you were never truly saved.

What do you mean Dad? I believed before, I just don't anymore.

Well, Son, you thought you believed, but you were wrong about that, you didn't really believe.

No Dad, I'm telling you now, I believed then that Christ, fully God, the Second Person of the Triune God, and also fully Man, died for me as much as I believe now that there are no gods and that Jesus was nothing more than a good man, killed by Rome because he was a politically destabilizing element, not for the sins of the world.

But you didn't really believe, Son.

Of course I believed Dad. I think I know when I believe something!

No Son, had you really believed you would never have fallen away.

But I can't ever know, Dad, whether I'm going to hold a belief until I die. All I can know is what beliefs I have now. So how can I ever tell that I really believe?

Because, Son, God doesn't let those who really believe fall away.

So what do you want me to do Dad?

Repent Son.

But Dad, even if I were to repent and believe this very moment, all I would know is what I believe right now. I still wouldn't know whether I really believe.

Don't worry about that Son. God doesn't let those who really believe fall away.

But I fell away, Dad, and I thought I believed! How am I ever to know that I really believe?

Don't worry Son, only believe.

But Dad, I might go through my whole life thinking I believe, but not really believe. Maybe I'll go to Hell after a lifetime of belief that isn't real belief.

That can't happen Son.

Yes it can, Dad, because belief is only real if God wouldn't let me fall into unbelief. Maybe God would have let me fall into unbelief, but I just didn't. Then my faith would be in vain.

Faith in Christ is not in vain Son.

For that matter, Dad, how do you even know you really believe?

Go to your room Son.

Don't undermine your child's sense of reality by telling her that she never believed something that she knows full well that she did. If she was being insincere in her earlier claims to faith, let her confess that to you. Don't accuse her of something that probably isn't true out of some misguided idea that once you are saved you will always be saved.

God promises that He won't ever cast unbelievers out. He never says that He won't let them walk away on their own.

And don't be afraid, based on the same misguided idea, that your child cannot return to the faith. She can, and God won't cast her out.

If you want to look for surety in your salvation, stay away from looking at the quality of your belief. It's as sin-infected as everything else in your life. The only thing good about it is what God gives you.

You are saved no matter what you believe, because Christ died for you no matter what you believe. Every person in Hell is saved. They're not there because they're not saved. They're there because that is where they relentlessly, doggedly, full-throatedly choose to be. That's why even the worst, weakest and most faltering faith, a faith that God has to literally cram down your throat (in short, the faith that sinners like us have if we have any) is enough to keep you out of Hell.

Look at what Christ did for you apart from anything you did. He died for you. He took the punishment you deserved. He gave you the Love of God that He deserved.

Listen to what the preacher says about God's Law and the Gospel of Christ's Death and Resurrection. The Law condemns you, but in the Person of Christ, God takes your punishment and makes you His Son.

Remember what happened when you were baptized. You were buried with Christ in your sin and death, but the waters of baptism drowned your sin, drowned your death itself, and you rose with Christ to new life.

Consider what you received when you communed. The True Body of Christ broken for you. The True Blood of Christ shed for you. Given for the forgiveness of all of your sin. Given to strengthen and preserve your faith.

Listen to what a called and ordained servant of Christ said to you when you confessed that you were a sinner. That in the stead and by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, he forgave you all your sins in the name of the Triune God.

If your child has fallen away, find a church where these things are taught, believed, confessed and practiced. Go to that church every Sunday.

In such a church, your child has the best shot at hearing and seeing the Gospel in action, and it is the power of the Gospel that will bring them back if anything will.

If your unbelieving child is staying with you, make it a house rule that, while your child is staying with you, they will go with you to that church every Sunday.

If your unbelieving child is not staying with you, if they live near you, try to get them to come every Sunday anyway. Let it be known that you can't force them to do anything, and you love them no matter what, but as their parent you still expect it of them that they go to church with you. That it is the best way they can show that they still respect you as their parent. That because it is the most important part of your life, you want them to be there with you, even if they don't believe.

Tell them that they don't have to believe what is being preached. They don't have to speak the liturgy. They don't have to find baptisms compelling when they happen and when they are referred to. They don't have to go to the altar for the Supper (in fact they shouldn't if they don't believe).

This one is hard, but I think that if they have kids of their own, you should let them know you would be pleased if they brought your grandchildren too, but give them respect as parents themselves and tell them that they don't have to bring their own kids. If your kids don't bring your grandchildren, be content that they consent to come to church themselves. Trust that God will recall them to the faith. And when they themselves return to faith, let them lead your grandchildren as you led them.

Of course, if your child has particular moral, psychological or intellectual barriers that are preventing them from accepting what is being freely offered every time they are at church (and all the times in between), you should do your best as a loving parent to help them come to terms with those barriers.

Apologetics may well be called for, especially if an intellectual barrier was raised by one of her college classes.

But if your son has decided he wants to deny God so that he can feel free to leave his wife and children to sleep with his secretary, apologetics probably won't do much good.

As Brett says, you don't need to answer every problem at once, apologetic or otherwise. Don't wig out and try to control freak them back to the faith. In all likelihood, it was a long process, that you had little to do with, that drew your child out of the faith. It is liable to be a long process, that you, again, will have little to do with, that brings your child back.

I don't want to brag on myself. But I am happy to brag about many of the Christians who post comments here. Brad B., DGFischer, SCBLHRM, Carolyn, JBerr, Jim Pemberton and many others show extensive capabilities of thinking for themselves with a great deal of depth.

In the face of what seems to me to be clear and overwhelming evidence of Christians thinking for themselves, in the very forum where this evidence exists, we get this comment:

"if someone walks away from christianity it means they have learned to think for themselves"

One of the key indicators that someone does not think for themselves is the fact that they continue to maintain the thesis in the face of clear and overwhelming evidence.

I just realized I left Sam Harper off my list of Christians who manifestly think for themselves (a serious omission...he should have been among the first I thought of), and of course, the chief members of my list should have been Amy, Brett, Alan, Greg, JWW, Melinda and the other members of the STR staff who graciously host this forum and provide the kickstart posts for our many interesting and often fruitful conversations.

I would add that while skipping #1 from d’s comment makes sense in discussion with your child (or anyone, really), it doesn’t mean that #1 is not true.

Fair enough KWM (BTW, you should have been on my list too). The fact that #1 shouldn't be a topic of discussion does not imply that it isn't true.

I do think, though, that the Son's remarks in the imagined conversation raise real problems for the once saved, always saved idea.

Now, some people I've discussed that idea with have held the view that once saved always saved really just comes down to the claim that there is a fact about whether you will ultimately be saved, and that fact doesn't change. Understood in that way, I think the claim is undeniably true, but I don't think its a terribly informative or useful claim.

All we can do as parents is to raise our children as unto the Lord and hope. Many times God saves people only after they come to the end of themselves, dashed on the rocks of self despair (see Luther: Bondage of the Will; pg 100).

It's hard watching a loved one forsake God and bottom out, but many times it's the beginning of their salvation.

Then too, if we consider Cain and Able, one a murderer, the other a saint. Abraham's children, Ishmael and Isaac, And Isaac's Jacob and Esau, all no doubt raised in the same environments, yet direct opposites in their spiritual qualities. It further underscores Romans 9:21, that God makes from the same lump, one vessel of honor and another to dishonor.

Romans 9:16, So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

For the sake of having a clear conscience, do your best as a parent, but in the end, it's really up to God, no matter how they turn out.

As the OP is about what I would, as a parent, say to my child in dialogue with her, I would assure her that both God and myself truly do love her, that my door is always open for her, as is His. If she feels rejected by me, I would assure her of my sincerity. If she felt rejected by God I would assure her of the truth of the Gospel for her - in her specific case. This is where Calvinism and I part on the words we would actually say to her. God is not withholding Himself from her as the door is now open, Him having provided her the Grace, the Means, to pass through it, those Means being His Own Self.

I think this brings me to an even more acute awareness of the errors in Calvinism. As I speak to her I realize how horrific and grotesque such statements to her, the actual her, of "will always withhold grace from you" and "created you so that you can be damned" when coming out of my mouth in communicating with her in the face of His Means - His All-Sufficient Means - actually are.

Obviously parents have to tell their children what they themselves believe is the actualized state of affairs for their child. As I cannot find any truth in telling our little children such things of God's love and offers to them, I find no need to suddenly change paradigms / descriptives merely because they are no longer ten years old, but are instead 15 or 25.

Children see through dishonesty. If in our own hearts we believe we just may be lying to them as we tell them of His All Sufficient Means having provided them - them specifically - the Means/Grace to enter into Him, well, they see through that eventually. They get the insincerity, the dishonesty, and a dishonest love will always be - in the end - rejected.

@ scblhrm;

I don't understand your take on Calvinism, nor have I ever heard a Calvinist tell a person that they could not be saved.

True, most people are not saved but only God knows who they are.

As a Calvinist, I simply assure people that if they have a true and persevering faith in the atonement as their only grounds of acceptance with God, it is evidence that they are saved by Grace.

But back to the point. Paul says "whatever is not of faith is sin" Ro 14:23.

So what should the Christian's response be to one who has strayed from the faith?

What should it be other than the command to Repent?

I do not find the Apostles or anyone in Scripture omitting this, especially trading it for a claim that God loves all.

To renounce faith is to choose a sinful world view and lifestyle, even if the lifestyle operates on a quasi moral ground.

So the message should be the same as it has been from antiquity, The message of faith and repentance along with the consequential wrath of God upon unrepentant sinners.

Then we agree Dave. His Love, His Grace, is withheld from no one; all men have the means, the wherewithal, to choose Him.

Or, just in case:

Then we agree. His Love, His Grace, is withheld from no one; all men actually have the actual means, the actual wherewithal, to actually choose Actuality Himself.


all men actually have the actual means, the actual wherewithal, to actually choose Actuality Himself.

And of course, the question then is – “What led them to choose?”

More education? Morally superior? Christian upbringing?

God of course, or Light, which is His gift, and so on down the line of X's supplied by Him. We can use His gifts - as He is glorified thereby. Even the volition there employed is His gift. The gifts of Agency, of Volitional Motion amid Self-Other are I know non-entity in Calvinism. But I think that is the location of where I respond very, very differently to my child when asked of His Grace for them - them specifically - ad infinitum.

The OP is about talking to our specific child....the one questioning all of it, God's designs for her, that Door, In, Out, and so on.

@ scblhrm; Martin Luther asked this question of Erasmus, in his debate about "free will". I'm curious as to how you would answer it. He says;

Paul in Romans 7[:14 ff.] and Galatians 5[:16 ff.] teaches that there is in the saints and the godly a battle between the Spirit and the flesh, so fierce that they cannot do what they would.

He then asks; If human nature is so evil that in those born anew of the Spirit it not only does
not endeavor after the good but actually strives and fights against it, how should it endeavor after the good in those who are not yet born anew but are still “in the old man” and in bondage to Satan?

if they have a true and persevering faith in the atonement as their only grounds of acceptance with God, it is evidence that they are saved by Grace.
This is the very point I was trying to illustrate in the mock-conversation above. I cannot know whether I have a true and persevering faith, so that can't be evidence for anything. The most I can ever know is do I have any faith of any kind right now. And even that is something I'm liable to fake myself out about.

I do better to look for Christ where He promised He would find me. The Font, The Supper, The Confessional, In the Words of the Gospel. Did I believe enough to open my mouth to receive the bread and wine? If yes, then I am in grace. Did I believe enough to have water poured over my head? Then I am in grace. Did I believe enough to kneel and confess my sin? Then I am in grace. Did I believe enough to hear the preached gospel? Then I am in grace.

@ WL;

But what if you never did the things(works)that you mention? Are they conditions that you must meet in order to save yourself?


I stated how I'd answer the son or daughter should they question God's actual and available Means/Grace in relation to them specifically, them actually.

Your point about an admonition to repent is a good, important point. I think we agree on that point, while we may not agree on my assurance to them on the other point of Grace/Wherewithal as certain and true of him or her specifically, actually, as He withheld such from none.

I was carried to the font as an infant. Not my work. God created faith in me there.

All the others seem more like my works, but I never would have done them had God not made me do so against my nature. My nature is to choose sin.

The fact that God did these works, not me, does not change the fact that I absolutely can know that they happened. This is in stark contrast to persevering faith, which I can never know, this side of glory, that I have.

Hi dave, I think WL's finding comfort in the normal means of nurture that God has given the saints IS about as Calvinistic as it can get. The early Reformers were acutely aware that connection/union with the visible Church and the partaking of the means of Grace found only, uniquely there, were essential attributes found in the practices a true believer. For them, to not be devoutely participating in worship services...hearing the Word preached, seeing the Word/eating and drinking the Word...meant such a one was dying or was dead. A quote I've heard says what I am wanting to convey: From Cyprian of Carthage 3rd century AD

"You cannot have God as your Father unless you have the church for your Mother."

Participating in the means of Grace are in no way works nor should participation ever be construed as such. Assurance of faith is a by product of participating in the means of grace faithfully...when you ask "what if you never did those things?", then adding "works" to the sentence, caused me to remember the times when I was a mere partial Calvinist...one hung up on Divine Sovereignty, and missing the beauty of the Reformed traditions rich, full bodied, God pleasing, faith and practice. WL seeks assurance in obedient faith and practice, not meritoriously working but working at it nonetheless by employing/making use of the ordained means. [rather than staying on the couch all day on Sundays].

Is your Faith too weak?


Faith is not that which saves, as it lacks the All Sufficient Means that is God’s Own Self. Rather, it is Faith through which and by which such Means come. There are waterways, and, there is Water. These are not the same.

Should I sense within myself a deficiency in this paradigm and question my Faith as that which seems to not be getting the job done, well, therein I am perceiving some some-thing which, though necessary, is not sufficient. My eyes are seeing properly.

We must not put our Faith in Faith. The landscape and semantics here do matter.

Faith is rather necessary should Man know his final Good. The Created Self must trust in, motion into, the Uncreated Other. There is that bit of this. But Trust, Faith, is not His All Sufficient Means. Such is the How and the Why Man’s Faith in Him, even at the cost of Self, is found throughout Hebrews 11 there in the Old Man though he does not, could not, enter in. While faith is there, undeniably present within the Old Man, faith was, and is, insufficient should it lack some other some-thing. The Man's Trust in Him is - in a sense - a hollow, a conduit, a pipeline, a waterway, through which Living Water may, or may not, flow. The Old Man of Hebrews 11 knocks on His Door ad infinitum. And to no avail. The Old Man full of Faith could not enter in.

Lest the Door Himself Open, they will not see His Face.

Hebrews 11 and Faith there in the Old Man may perhaps grant us God’s Timelessness, which finds accommodation both in scripture and in metaphysics, as it seems Time and Circumstance are no barriers to His All Sufficiency. Is the New Man there in the OT? Well, if so, then too we may out-distance Time and Circumstance future-ward beyond our eyes for His Hand is strong enough and we can then grant ourselves such theological moves, or, if not, then still the Old Man is full of Faith and there is some other something which the New Creation brings to him. Either way, we find no barrier which contingency presents us with which we need fear should our Faith seem somehow unable to rise to the level of All Sufficiency for Faith, while present both proximally and distally across Time, just is not the thing which rises to the level of All Sufficiency.

Like those in Hebrews 11, we may knock in Faith, and like them we must suffer the pains of waiting, and like them we know it is not the force of our pounding knocks, it is the strength of our Faith which will get the job done. No. The wavering perceived in our Faith is proper perception. We peer inward and spy our very real Faith and we note, “It, this, does not seem to be enough.” That is the Truth of the matter. Waterways are not Living Water. Faith must receive some other some-thing. Faith is the mutable, is that which is fated to one day pass away, to one day become non-entity. Immutable Love Himself, however, will endure, go on, be present, ad infinitum. Faith which moves mountains? That too shall one day be tossed aside for the Greater, for the Perfect.

Such Agency, such Volitional Motion amid Self-Other, into Self, out of Self, into Other, out of Other, such Volitional Motions therein amid Personhood’s triune topography of Self-Other-Us, and so on, just is the Image of the Paradigm which we call "Man". Genesis and Trinity speak of the same God, the same Image, in these beautiful contours, and, of course, in so many other contours. Personhood’s triune geography amid all that is the Self and all that is the Other and all that is the singular Us emerges there within the immutable love of the Necessary Being. Such houses all possible Contingent Worlds should His Image be stamped upon the Contingent as all lines there in such an Image begin with Him and end with Him. The landscape within Man’s paradigm cannot be otherwise. Such motions, such Agency, such Volition amid Self-Other, it seems, are not only necessary, but present necessarily.

And still Man, the Contingent, housing such gifts, such images, such volition, such agency, such freedom amid personhood’s triune landscape, lacks the Means of All Sufficiency.

Man knocking on His Door in Trust and Faith as we find throughout the OT there in the Old Man of Hebrews 11, while perhaps necessary, just never rises to the level of sufficiency. And it never will be sufficient. No. The Door must open. He must Open. In all Worlds the Contingent cannot rise to Sufficiency – how absurd, both scripturally and metaphysically, to think this changes by Eden’s mere obedience or disobedience. As if Man’s choice can trump God’s Plans. As if the Contingent, in obedience, must not pass from Eden through Gethsemane, must not find the painful end of himself, must not be filled by Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self, Poured-Out. No. In all Worlds All Sufficiency must Pour, Descend, Empty, Enter In, Be Debased. The Contingent Agent in all Worlds must Receive, Ascend, be Filled, Be Glorified. Man - the Contingent – finds such a Hard Stop. Such a Door. And the Door, having been come upon, or having come, must Open or else Man is hopeless.

Man cannot not see, behold, Immutable Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self there within the Necessary Being, within Necessity Himself. That which begins with nothing more than Man before Self/God in all Worlds also ends with Man before Self/God. There are choices, but all lead us to behold the Necessary. We cannot assert anything else, given Necessity Himself there as the A and the Z.

Should the Door Open and Man enter, that Living Water filling the hollow pipeline we call Faith, well then, those souls in Heaven have only Him to glorify for such Ends as His All Sufficiency did what all their Faith could never do. Those in Hebrews 11 knew, trusted, of another Day, yet to come. But they could not enter in for a Door had not Opened. There is much more to say but on the whole we find in Christ the very actualization of Seed’s Seed, of God-In-Man, Man-In-God, Self-Other, Word’s Corporeal, as all such lines of amalgamation finds All Sufficiency filling our hollow Reality with Himself and a glorious new creation begins its gestation. Therein, within the womb, we groan, and all of creation with us, as there is now That Which on terms of necessity could never be there in the Old, Fragmented Creation: The Door Himself Wide Open.

What Immutable Love does from Eden to His Own Self Sacrifice to ad infinitum He does in and by and with what just are Worlds. We cannot now see the ends of it but we know that which just is Insufficient Knowledge and all which just is Insufficient Faith will fade to non-entity, as both Faith and Knowledge will be done away with, while All-Sufficiency – Immutable Love Himself – that Face we will somehow behold, even now begin to behold in Christ’s Fullness, will never cease, on necessity.

@ Wl & Brad B;

It seems that we are focusing on faith and its out-workings. The conclusion would be in knowing that we have faith by our use of the "means" or sacraments?

I would go as far to say that most if not all Christians practice the same, but some do so in a different light. Not as "conditions" for salvation, but as "signs".

My assurance of faith however comes from within through the Spirit. Ro 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Ga 5:22; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We can perpetually use the "means" and still not be sure of our salvation unless we have the inner witness. But if the Holy Spirit resides within, the proof of our salvation is in our persevering faith and how we think, apprehend the truth, and live each moment, etc.

I would not like to offer my obedience to any code of conduct as the reason God should save me. I feel pretty safe however holding forth that Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice of himself on the cross for me, else I could not believe. Of course this requires a "Calvinistic" understanding of "Limited Atonement"....

Faith is alive in the Old Man as such outdistances any limited conception attempting to constrain All Sufficiency, whether by nature, time, or circumstance. But we always knew that of His Reach.

@ scblhrm; who said "We must not put our Faith in Faith."

BINGO!!! This is what it is all about. Having a mediator between us and Christ. To some, the mediator is the Pope or the church. To another it is the "means of Grace" held forth by the church, to another it is our "free will" that imparts salvation.

But all of these approaches deny that God acts upon our hearts directly through regeneration. They would prefer to have God act indirectly through regeneration, only after we jump through the appropriate hoops.

Since spiritually dead sinners cannot jump through any hoop whatsoever, regeneration must occur before we jump through the hoops we think we are jumping through.

Luther says; First, God has assuredly promised his grace to the humble [I Peter 5:5], that is, to those who lament and despair of themselves. But no man can be thoroughly humbled until he knows that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, devices, endeavors, will, and works, and depends entirely on the choice, will, and work of another, namely, of God alone. For as long as he is persuaded that he himself can do even the least thing toward his salvation, he retains some self-confidence and does not altogether despair of himself, and therefore he is not humbled before God, but presumes that there is—or at least hopes or desires that there may be—some place, time, and work for him, by which he may at length attain to salvation. But when a man has no doubt that everything depends on the will of God, then he completely despairs of himself and chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work; then he has come close to grace, and can be saved.

Faith is alive in the Old Man as such outdistances any limited conception attempting to constrain All Sufficiency, whether by nature, time, or circumstance. But we always knew that of His Reach.

The problem with faith is its insufficiency - despite its necessary presence across Time. Lest the Door Open.... Though now He has Opened ~~~

"the proof of our salvation is in our persevering faith"

This is no proof at all, since you can never know you have it.

The proof I have is that I kneeled at the communion rail last Sunday and opened my mouth. I heard the comforting words of the Gospel. I confessed my sins and heard a called and ordained servant of the Word, in the stead and by the command of Christ, announce the Grace of God to me and forgive me of all my sins in the name of the Triune God. I know that these things happened.

That my faith will persevere until death...not so much.

"he completely despairs of himself and chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work; then he has come close to grace, and can be saved."

So the work we need to perform for salvation, that first little semi-pelagian step, is waiting?

You see Dave, any description of my salvation from my subjective point of view is going to be a description of something that happens in me. And it will always be possible, for those so inclined, to construe that as my work. But it will be equally possible to construe it as something that God does in me. The first is bad theology, the second good.

You can push synergistic theology onto anything...including the idea of letting God do all the work.

You can push monergistic theology onto anything...including the idea of making a decision for Christ.

It still comes down to this: you are trusting in your works as your ground of acceptance with God. It seems that the only safe time for you to die is while you are at church engaged in touching up your salvation.

Also, As Luther said in so many words, (despite your charge of semi-pelagianism.) As long as you trust in yourself or someone other than Christ, for salvation, you won't be looking in the right place.

Besides, where in the New Testament do you see the Apostles evangelizing through the use of rituals?

Abraham believed God - and it was accounted for him as righteousness. Faith in the Old Man - in Hebrews 11- brings us either to the New Man in the OT, in which case Time and Circumstance are unconcerning for His Reach, or Paul and God got it wrong in Scripture, which we've no reason to believe, or Man houses Choice, Faith, across Time and His New Creation brings Man far, far more than capacity of choice.

Either way, Faith, Capacity of Choice, is found in the Old/New Man across Time and Circumstance.

Prior to and after the Resurrection.

Faith is on all accounts both present and present necessarily given such things and given Man fashioned within the triune paradigm of personhood's motions.

The Door that is All Sufficiency Himself is - gloriously - Open, Living Water now - finally - filling the hollow void we call Faith.

It still comes down to this: you are trusting in your works as your ground of acceptance with God. It seems that the only safe time for you to die is while you are at church engaged in touching up your salvation.
Nonsense. I'm talking about how I know, not what saves me. I'm saved, as I said above, by Christ's finished work on the cross.

I know that I'm saved because of the means of grace, whereby Christ promised to deliver salvation to me.

You, in contrast, really have no idea whether you are saved. Because the proof you have, perseverant faith, is something you have no idea whether you have.

But as long as we're speaking about it. There is no safe time to die for you.

That last sentence should have been replaced by the prior paragraph. Sorry.

Like your original charge against me, Dave, that sentence confuses how you know, from what it is. Sorry it got left in.

@ WL;>"I know that I'm saved because of the means of grace, whereby Christ promised to deliver salvation to me."

>> Where is this found in Scripture?

Time and again the Scripture claims "Whosoever Believes will be Saved" or something like that.

It also admonishes us time and again against the idea of having "works" or conditions we must meet in order to initiate or maintain our salvation.

Apart from the "means" or sacraments, I know I'm saved by the fruit I produce. I also radically changed my life style a year or so after my conversion. Not as a condition for salvation, but as a result of it.

John says 1Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

This involves repenting continually in thought and deed, not just ceremoniously once a week. It involves confessing sin in prayer throughout the day. Continually curbing inner hatred, replacing it with God's love.

I suppose the mainstay of spirituality is Paul's admonition in 2Co 10:5:(we spend our time as Christians) "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ"

This IS walking in the Spirit. You cannot do this unless you are saved.

"Where is this found in Scripture?"

Lots of places. I didn't make this up you know. This is the standard teaching of the church founded by the very Luther you like to quote.

Let's consider just baptism:


Acts 2:38

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Acts 22:16

Ananias to Paul: Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

1 Peter 3:18-21

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:26-27

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Colossians 2:11-12

and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

I Cor 12:13

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.


Baptism makes you part of the Invisible Church. That is, it makes you a saved Christian. It is not divorced from faith. It creates and strengthens faith.

Time and again the Scripture claims "Whosoever Believes will be Saved" or something like that.

It also admonishes us time and again against the idea of having "works" or conditions we must meet in order to initiate or maintain our salvation.

See, if I wanted to read that the same way you insist on your unscriptural reading of the means of grace, I could say that you've contradicted yourself, because belief is a work.

Apart from the "means" or sacraments, I know I'm saved by the fruit I produce. I also radically changed my life style a year or so after my conversion. Not as a condition for salvation, but as a result of it.
Oh boy! Now who's looking at works!

Most of us don't see much change for the better in our lives, especially when we remember that God looks on the heart...and that's not good news.

On my best days, anywhere I do see an improvement, I quickly notice that I've fallen into sinful pride to replace whatever paltry gain I've made. On the bad days, I go ahead and fall into sinful pride, but I don't notice it, and my condition is liable to be worse than it was. When I judge myself by my fruit, I'm not feeling too good.

I flee to the altar and open my mouth instead of trusting in my good works to tell me anything. And as best I can, I try to remember that it wasn't anything good about me that sent me to the altar, but that also was a gift of Heaven.

BTW, the Bible tells us to recognize true and false prophets by the fruits they bear, not our own salvation.

It's metaphorical language. No one actually bears fruit of any kind. But I would think that what the fruit metaphor is saying, in Matthew chapters 3, 7 and 12 for example, is not even that we distinguish true from false prophets or teachers by how sinful they seem or by how much their life has changed. If that were it, the typical Mormon missionary would, by that principle, be fully justified. Instead, it seems to me that the fruit Christ is talking about is the teaching itself. I judge the Mormons as false prophets because they teach blasphemy, saying that I can become like God.


Starting with Baptism, how do you know you were actually baptized when the NT mentions the baptism of BELIEVERS only? It also mentions IMMERSION in water as the method. And it is always carried out in the name of Jesus Christ, and not as the church formula recites, in the name of "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?"

@WL; >"I could say that you've contradicted yourself, because belief is a work."

>>Belief is definitely a work, if you make it a condition of salvation.

But, I never do this. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and therefore not something we do, nor can do in the proper sense of the term.

The Scripture says; "whosoever believes will be saved". People like to read into this a condition they must choose to meet, but it doesn't say that in the least.

Belief is a characteristic fruit of those whom God saves.

I often ask people; Are you saved because you believe, or do you believe because you are saved?

The answer leads to two totally different religions each calling themselves "Christian".

At WL: >"Oh boy! Now who's looking at works!"

>> I've never said good works weren't important, just that they are the result of being saved. They are not a condition we must meet in order to save our selves. This would be essentially salvation by self righteousness.

A living faith will produce good works else it is dead. To paraphrase James.

"the NT mentions the baptism of BELIEVERS only"

Believing and being baptized are not separated in the NT. It's not like someone says "I believe" and then "I'll think about getting baptized".

If water is available, and you refuse baptism, you are no believer.

Baptism creates and strengthens faith. And the fact that it has occurred is a promise that, at least at the time, you had faith, and having faith were saved. You could, of course, apostatize later. Just as you could after hearing and believing or communing and believing or confessing and believing.

"It also mentions IMMERSION in water as the method."

Not once does it do so.

A. Doesn't "Baptism" just mean "immersion"?

Most occurrences of "Baptizo" in the NT refer to the sacrament itself. Nothing can be determined about whether Baptism is by immersion there.

It is used exactly once in another way. In Luke 11:38, it is used to refer to ceremonial washing before a meal. Did the Pharisee who invited Jesus to lunch expect Jesus to be immersed before coming to the table? Clearly not.

What is more, there is another word for "immerse" "bythízō" that is not used in connection with baptism ever.

So the one instance of use in the NT that is not about the ceremony of Baptism itself refers to a ceremonial washing which is not immersion.

B. Why was baptism often done where "there was much water", e.g. John 3:23, if the baptism was not by immersion?

Where would you suggest that 3000 sprinklings be performed? The desert?

If you are baptizing multitudes by any method, you're going to need a ready water supply. You can't use your canteen.

C. If Jesus went down into the water, and came up out of the water, that means he was immersed doesn't it?

Where are rivers located? On the tops of hills? No, they usually define a low spot on a piece of terrain, because, you see, if they didn't, the water would flow elsewhere, and there would be no river.

So (making the reasonable assumption that John was standing by or in the Jordan River when he was baptizing, and those being baptized came to him) Jesus had to go down to get to John and the waters of the Jordan river when He was baptized. And he had to come up after the baptism was complete.

Ironically, there's a similar passage that's often used by dunkers as a proof text for immersion, but it actually proves that all the talk of going down into the water cannot refer to the immersion of baptism. That's the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:38-39:

And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
So is the text saying that Philip also immersed himself?

No. Of course not.

It is saying that they went down the banks of the body of water where the baptism was to take place, and after they had done that, Philip baptized him there. The baptism is clearly separated by the passage from the going down into the water.

"And it is always carried out in the name of Jesus Christ, and not as the church formula recites, in the name of "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?""

The triadic formula is commanded in Matthew 28:19.

But it bears remembering that "Father", "Son" and "Holy Ghost" are not names of God. Nor is "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" a name of God. "God" is not even a name of God. There are two names of God given in the Bible, and a whole lot of titles. The two names are "YHWH" and "Jesus".

And even the name "Jesus" is a title of sorts. Jesus means "YHWH saves". The angel said to name Him "YHWH saves", for He shall save His people, thereby identifying Jesus as YHWH. And "Jesus Christ", or "Jesus the Messiah" is even more clearly a title. A title of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. A title of Him in whom all the fullness of the godhead dwells bodily. It is a title of YHWH.

If I say to you "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost", I've claimed to baptize you in a particular name, but that name is not "the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost", which isn't a name at all. Instead, the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost, have a single name in common, because they are not three beings, but One Being. And that name is "YHWH". I am baptizing in that name of that One Being that has the titles "Father", "Son" and "Holy Ghost".

Likewise, if I baptize you in the name of Jesus the Messiah, I am again, baptizing in the name of the One Being that bears that title...which is YHWH.

But all this is far from the point, which is that, without reference to the means of grace, you are left without a way of knowing that you are saved. Truly believing won't do. Fruits won't do.


Paul only baptized a few of his converts. I'm sure he carried a canteen of water with him on his journeys so if baptism were by sprinkling, he could have easily performed the rite. If as you say "If water is available, and you refuse baptism, you are no believer."

Also, where people are there IS water of some sort, else they would die in about three days.

He seems to have left baptism for his converts to work out individually. So it must not be necessary to secure salvation else he would have performed it immediately on every convert.

This might be of interest;

907 βαπτίζω baptizo bap-tid’-zo

from a derivative of 911; verb; TDNT-1:529,92; {See TDNT 123 }

AV-baptize (76), wash 2, baptist 1, baptized + 2258 1; 80

1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe
3) to overwhelm
Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows
the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.
When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. #Mr 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!
(Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989).


As far as your comment on using the river for sprinkling. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a large urn of river water to sprinkle converts, rather than having them risk injury and get their feet and possibly garments wet by standing on the river bed?

John baptized where there was much water. John 3:23. (No doubt more than required for a mere sprinkling)

Jesus himself "went up out of the water." Matthew 3:16. (Notice he would have come up from the river's edge as you suggest after he came up out of the water).

Too much doesn't add up for me to buy your position.


This was stated earlier: “Abraham believed God - and it was accounted for him as righteousness.”

This is not to assert that Abraham experienced there the New Birth, rather, it is to extricate the inescapable fact that the Old Man there in Abraham (and many others) are ascribed by Scripture as moving in actual, literal, Faith.

Hebrews 11 and so on.

In fact, this is so actual, so literal, that God is described as actually crediting it to Abraham – the Old Man – as some form of righteousness. Again, not that of the New Birth (most likely), but rather that which is simply Faith of the sort which God is described as – not giving – but responding to. Of course, we all know that our legs, ankles, and feet are from Him, and, in walking, well, we find no glory. Legs – being real – are, well, real, and, well, really from Him.

Faith in the Old Man - in Hebrews 11- brings us to a few options of explanation.

1) The New Man, the New Birth was being demonstrated there in the OT. If that was (is) the case then we find that Time and Circumstance are no limit for His Reach, for His Cross, for Love’s Eternal Sacrifice of Self. We can then make the theological move that Time and Circumstance are not Hard Stops to the business of Salvation. Of course, such moves are already coherent on other grounds, though, this would be another to add to the list.

2) The writer of Hebrews got it wrong and God got it wrong, very wrong, in Scripture’s entire anthology of man in motion, which we've no reason to believe.

3) Man in all his known conditions from Eden to Sinai to Gethsemane to Now clearly houses the Image of God in so far as the Capacity of Choice is concerned (this grants Man no Means of All Sufficiency, and thus of theft-of-glory) and thereby the Old Man can motion in genuine Stubbornness vs. Faith across Time. If that is the case then clearly The New Creation brings Man far, far more than merely the capacity of choice.

We may discount #2 from the start.

Therefore, either way, Faith, Capacity of Choice, is found in the Old/New Man across Time and Circumstance. While the Hyper-Calvinist expunges all such language from his theology, we need not commit the same error.

As noted earlier, such actual capacities are demonstrated – unmistakably – prior to and after the Resurrection. This makes perfect sense in light of the fact that Faith, while necessary, is yet insufficient, and thus is incapable of granting Man any glory, and, in light of the fact that it is ascribed by Scripture as present there prior to the resurrection quite decidedly. All the eons of language within scripture speaking towards the whole landscape that just is Choice and Faith and so on need not be expunged just to defend the Hyper-Calvinist’s theological errors as we find a far, far more robust account of the actualized state of affairs here within Time and Physicality, as alluded to in earlier posts here.

Faith, those free and volitional motions amid Self-Other, Capacity of Choice – all those lines – are on all accounts both present and present necessarily given such things as these, and, given such things discussed in early posts here, and, given Man fashioned within the paradigm of personhood's image which inevitably regress to the triune geography of volitional motions amid Self-Other-Us there within the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

Power willed that an Image in the Paradigm called “Man”, and so, well, such therefore cannot be otherwise.

We need not fear Hebrews 11, as, per earlier posts, the Capacity of Choice finds Man at a Dead-End both metaphysically and scripturally and thus grants him no hope in and of itself. As noted, Man can knock on God’s Door – which is Himself – ad infinitum and all will be to no avail lest God Open, Pour-Out, Descend, Fill, Glorify. As noted, in all worlds All-Sufficiency must be debased, must pour out, while Contingency, In-Sufficiency, must be filled, must ascend, be glorified. In such a rescue the Creature there finds the Goodness of His Love ever to be that which is The Good, that which is to be Praised, Glorified, and there then the Creature now glorified begins to pour itself out and Glorify He Who glorified/ies it. Love’s ceaseless reciprocity.

In Hebrews 11 we find Man prior to Christ volitionally knocking on God’s Door in Faith yet unable to enter into His Rest. Faith is necessary but not sufficient. His infusion of volition into all men isn’t enough. The Hyper-Calvinist need not fear Hebrews 11. Volition, Capacity of Volitional Motion towards/away from God isn’t enough. Hard Stop. God must yet open the Door. Hard Stop.

Gloriously in and by Christ we find His Door – Himself – finally opened and He thereby gets all the credit. The capacity to walk comes from my legs. In walking I gain no glory – steal no glory – from Him, for by Him I have my legs. I glorify Him by taking steps, and, should I refuse to properly employ what is His teleological purposes (taking steps) I only serve to offend His Glory and glorify my own purposes, my own Self. Such is the Dark Outside, and the Hyper-Calvinist surely knows that that exists. The capacity of Volition is no different than any other capacity. Such can glorify Him and His purposes by being employed according to His Desire, or, such can be used in a self-serving fashion. If it is used to knock on His Door, well, that is great as such is His Design/Desire and yet the Creature could not do so but for the fact that God has capacitated Man with volition. Such Volitional Faith (Trust) – while necessary – just is not sufficient, for He, God, The Door, must open. And He Has. On each and every front then we find that God gets all the credit should the Creature find itself in Heaven. Whereas should the Creature find itself in the Dark Outside, it is the Creature alone who gets all the credit, while, such ends can be otherwise, for, it is clear, the Door that is All Sufficiency Himself is - gloriously - Open, Living Water now - finally - filling the hollow void we call Faith as Immutable Love’s ceaseless reciprocity ever pours-out, ever fills-up, and this in all possible worlds.


Here are a couple of verses comparing Baptism to burial; Borrowed from the web.

Romans 6:4 says, "Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death." Here we see that baptism is a burial, which is what is done when one is immersed. Sprinkling is not a burial; it is only sprinkling.

Colossians 2:12 says that we are "buried with him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him." Here again God requires the one being baptized, to be buried and raised when he is baptized. When we bury a dead person in the cemetery, we do not lay him out on the grass and sprinkle a little dirt on him. No, that would be absurd, and it is just as absurd in trying to substitute sprinkling for baptism.

"When we bury a dead person in the cemetery, we do not lay him out on the grass and sprinkle a little dirt on him."

And did Christ have any dirt sprinkled on Him? Was He immersed in dirt?

By your reasoning, baptism should involve being placed in a sealed igloo.

We are told that baptism is burial with Christ. And I believe that. I believe it is literally true that in baptism we are buried with Christ. We are not told that the water is dirt, or stone, or the precious perfumes, or the shroud.

"As far as your comment on using the river for sprinkling. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a large urn of river water to sprinkle converts, rather than having them risk injury and get their feet and possibly garments wet by standing on the river bed?"

I think it makes the most sense for a guy who is doing thousands of baptisms to move as little water as possible, no matter how he does the baptism.

Note that my position is not that Baptism must be done by sprinkling, or that the Bible teaches that it must be done by sprinkling.

My point is that the Bible is silent on the issue. Except that, in the case of Philip and the Eunuch, all the going down and coming up does not refer to the act of baptism, but to approaching and leaving the place where the baptism takes place.

Immersion baptism is valid. Pouring is valid. Sprinkling is valid. It is not the quantity of water, but the name in which and the faith with which it is done that matters. It saves you.


If immersion baptism is valid as you say, how do we baptize babies without drowning them? The point is, we do not baptize babies. Sprinkle them yes. But is it baptism?...not according to any Greek dictionary I've seen.

Well, there's very little doubt the early church baptized infants. There are early infant sized tombs with the shell symbol of baptism on. And there are early fonts that are too small to have been used for immersion. There were others that obviously were for immersion. Based on the archaeology, baptism by partial or full immersion was probably the most common form, but pouring or sprinkling was also not uncommon.

The fact that the early church practiced baptism that way lends more credence to the idea that the word "baptism" does not imply "immersion" than any reading you may have of Greek Dictionaries.

BTW, your reading of Greek dictionaries is also obviously wrong because the Pharisee who invited Jesus to lunch obviously expected him to be ceremonially washed, but not immersed...yet the word used in the Greek is "baptizo".

"He (Paul) seems to have left baptism for his converts to work out individually. So it must not be necessary to secure salvation else he would have performed it immediately on every convert."

The first thing said of Lydia when her heart was opened to God at Paul's preaching is that she was baptized. The Philippian Jailer was baptized immediately, and all of his house. I don't think he left baptism to the converts to work out individually.

Baptism is a central doctrine. The Church's mandate to make converts includes baptism. Faith and baptism are not to be separated and more than hearts and livers are.

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