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Archive for Sunday, June 5, 2011

Faith Forum: Is salvation earned or given?

June 5, 2011

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The Rev. Darrell Brazell, pastor, New Hope Fellowship, 1449 Kasold Drive:

This question, while simple to answer is difficult to live.

Biblically, it’s clear, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ...” (Eph. 2:9-10). However, we so rarely experience real grace that its difficult to fathom.

Every religious system has a system of merit: salvation (being right with God) depends, at least in part, on effort. Say the right prayers, do the right rituals, perform enough good deeds, avoid the wrong sins, etc.

Unfortunately, I’m not just speaking about non-Christian systems. Sadly, even most “Christian” systems, while intellectually teaching “salvation by grace,” operate from a paradigm of performance. We find acceptance, praise and validation when we perform well (or at least appear to) and disgust, rejection and shame when we do not.

Why are scripture and experience so different? Because we learned early in life that people delight in us when we are good and retreat from us when we aren’t, and we project that on God. To be loved and accepted in the middle of our mess seems foreign, contrary and even wrong.

Yet, loved in the middle of our mess is the good news of Salvation. It is the reason Jesus came to earth. He didn’t come for those who were able to get their act together, look the religious part and earn his love. He came for those willing to admit their mess. He came so we could abandon our vain attempts to earn standing with God. He came so we could experience the love of a Father who is always as glad as glad can be to be with us. We can never earn our way into his love. Thankfully, we don’t have to. We simply receive it by faith.

— Send email to Darrell Brazell at darrell@newhopelawrence.com.

The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.:

As a Christian, I believe that salvation (eternal life) is a gift from God, a gift made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I turn to the Bible for this understanding. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works.”

God’s gift of eternal life means that each one of us will live beyond death. It is the opportunity for endless creative adventure with God. It is the promise of unbelievably great things — a life of peace and joy. It is lived in intimate association with God and with those who love and serve God.

The promise of salvation comes from God and can only be given by God. An understanding of grace is helpful here. Grace is the unmerited, undeserved, unconditional love of God given willingly and freely to all of God’s children. Although Christians have always recognized the terrible contrast between heaven and hell, it doesn’t make sense to me to believe that a loving God would condemn a child to hell. If we are not saved by good works, why would we be punished for not doing good works?

Does this mean that all of us are saved? Is some act of faith necessary before death in order to be saved? Is there a judgment day where there will be some form of accountability for our actions? I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know that it’s not my place to determine the eternal fate of others, and I don’t want to place any limits on the grace of God.

— Send email to Tom Brady at tom@fumclawrence.org.

Comments

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

At what rate? A holy relic is worth what? Should they be taxed at commercial rates or at rates of homeowners? Can they deduct the value of services provided to their members? Will confession be deducted at the same rate that say a counselor who provides services?

The very reason churches are not taxed is because once the state becomes involved in what the value of a holy relic is, then it's the state who has crossed the line of separation of church and state. It's too complicated and best if the government just stays out of it.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 6 months ago

The Constitution of the USA: Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

beatrice 3 years, 6 months ago

How about taxing them at a rate equal to any business? The objects already owned wouldn't be taxed, but the income received would be. If the income is only going to make some preacher rich, tax the heck out of them. Otherwise, if they are doing things for the community and spending money to help others, then they would receive the same tax breaks as any business doing the same.

Regarding relics, if a person owns a relic and they give it to the church, they must have it appraised in order to get a write off, so the pricing of relics already happens. If a person tries to lie about the value, they can pay a heavy fine and even go to prison. Pricing relics and government involvement already exists.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

And then the churches will incorporate in Delaware, because they have the lowest business tax rates. Or they will become LLC's.
Would the Catholic Church be incorporated in Vatican City, and therefore pay taxes there? Wouldn't that just be encouraging them to eliminate each diocese since that would open them up to local taxation? Do we want to be encouraging churches to organize in the best way for tax purposes rather than giving them the freedom to organize in the way in which they choose?
As a member of no church and being a non-religious person, I have no vested interest in this. But I think I'll politely disagree with you Beatrice and stick to my opinion that once the government becomes involved, it becomes too complicated and that it will be government breeching that wall of separation.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 6 months ago

"Faith Forum: Is salvation earned or given?"

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ..." Ephesians 2:9-10

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Notice that the Jewish viewpoint is left out. Obviously, because the only possible Jewish response would be, "Salvation from what?"

There is no 'Hell' meaning eternal damnation in Jewish thought, because a word or concept meaning 'Hell' in the sense of meaning eternal damnation never occured in the Old Testament at all. Therefore, 'Hell' did not exist until the New Testament was written.

Although in some inaccurate translation, the word 'Sheol' is often translated as 'Hell', although the Hebrew meaning of the word does not mean 'Hell' in our modern understanding of the term, it means merely the state of the dead, of which we know nothing.

FloridaSunshine 3 years, 6 months ago

Reverend Brazell...Thank you for hitting on some points that are usually "overlooked" by clergy...excellent essay...wise words, Reverend!

Reverend Brady...I rest my whole life...and my soul...all that I am, and all that I ever will be, upon the words in your first paragraph.

I, along with millions of others, including the late John Newton, owe our eternal communion with our Lord to amazing grace.

FloridaSunshine 3 years, 6 months ago

Not intentionally, but it seems quite comfy somehow...

s-m-i-l-e

G' nite...

obamasocks 3 years, 6 months ago

James 2:20-24 "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith madebperfect?

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

If it wasn't for christ, we could never be saved, its through his Grace alone we are saved. However, our faith only takes effect in our lives if we are willing to do our part.

montymoose 3 years, 6 months ago

I thought the bible was perfectly clear....Salvation is being saved from paying a debt we owe and cannot pay. God reconciled us back to Himself thru the blood of His Son, Christ Jesus, who paid my debt at the Cross in full. The doctrine of salvation is " repentance from dead works ( I cant earn it) and faith ( believing in the promises of God) toward God, Romans is all about the fact that God justifies the ungodly and is righteous in doing so.... Our part is to accept His gift.

Ephesians as mentioned above, gives the basic tenets, The Bible was written by man thru inspiration of the Holy Spirit so we might know God and His heart towards man. It is Gods will that all come to repentance but mans will gets in the way. One of the eye opening things I realized once I started studying the bible, in Revelations, 3:20 Jesus said behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man opens the door I will come in ........... Well if you take a close look at the picture representing this verse found in most Bible Book stores, Jesus is represented standing outside in front of a door ,,, THERE IS NO HANDLE ON THE OUTSIDE... someone got it right!!!!

rickyjessee 2 years, 9 months ago

You are absolutely right. Our desiny is entirely in our hands weather or not we want to accept the free gift of salvation. All we have to do is open the door. Jesus can't make us be saved, but He can definately save us if we allow Him.

K_Verses_The_World 3 years, 6 months ago

Nobody to rescue me Nobody would dare I was going down for the last time But by His mercy I’ve been spared Not by works But by faith in Him who called For so long I’ve been hindered For so long I’ve been stalled

somedude20 3 years, 6 months ago

"Is salvation earned or given?"

Instead of worrying about whether or not salvation is earned or given, maybe the real question should be is salvation real.

Why worry about something that may not even be real? As a young child I worried about monsters under the bed or in the closet.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Well, you asked. Is salvation real? Please provide proof with your answer. :-)

somedude20 3 years, 6 months ago

Not really. I did not ask a question that is why no "?" is at the end of the sentence. I was making a statement saying (not asking) that maybe the real question should be......

Thanks for playing though!

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