Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Hardshell Facebook Discussion on Faith

Just this morning I was scrolling down my Facebook page and saw where someone, an apparent Hardshell, shared a photo with an important Christian message stemming from Ephesians 2:8.  There was nothing unique about its content, but it was simply making a typical evangelical appeal to sinners who are lost and without God.

Not a problem.

Ah, but it is a problem to the Hardshells.  To make an appeal to sinners means that “salvation by grace” is being denied and the Christian is not “rightly dividing the word of truth” when he reads the evangelical appeals in the Bible.  In order to be set straight one must hear them butchered…I mean, “rightly divided”…using Hardshell hermeneutics.

The below conversation, with the parties’ last name removed, ensued in the comments section.  I could not let escape an opportunity to call attention to such brutal handling of the word of God.  Let the following serve as an example of how absolutely ingrained they are in their heretical doctrine of time salvation, and how practically everything in the scriptures revolves around this one “key” to its interpretation.

It really needs no comments.  It speaks for itself as to the lengths to which men will go when they refuse to submit to the plain teachings of scripture.  What is happening right now, to these my former church family and friends, is a systematic butchering of the word of God masquerading as “rightly dividing the word of truth”.

At first I laughed.  But then I sorrowed.

In response to the photo...

Ann: “Where did this come from?”

Keith: “Amen brother. Too many can not separate the two salvations. Pretty simple actually, if you earn it it's salvation during your life. If it was given to you before the world began it's salvation after your death. You don't even have to accept your after death salvation.”

Jacob: “It is very simple! There's no way you can accept anything if you are dead. The only way we can believe, accept, have faith, be baptized is if we are, passively, made alive by the Grace of God. I pray that God will open up the hearts of all of His children so that they may see that.”

Ann: “I'm going to go controversial and say I do not believe we are saved through our faith in God at all. I also believe that verse is only speaking of the eternal. The faith spoken of, in my opinion is Christ's faithfulness to the covenant of love in his willingness to be crucified and in his following through with suffering, bearing our sin burden, and death. Even though our faith in God is a gift from God, it is still a work. All righteousness is a gift from God. In my view, faith is no different. Only God's righteousness justifies us.”

Keith: “I agree with you. But I believe we can be "saved" to a closer walk with God while we are in this old world through our faith and works. But our faith and works has nothing to do with our eternal destination.”

Ann: “Keith, Yes, but my controversy is that I disagree with those who say that verse is instructing us about temporal as well as eternal salvation and I believe it is only about the latter. His grace saved us, by the mechanism of the death, burial and resurrection. So it is THROUGH faith that grace has saved us. Christ's faith; ergo the 'gift of God'.

So yes, we are saved to a closer walk with God through our faith but I don't believe that's what this verse is referring to.”

Jacob: “Sister Ann. You are right. I don't believe that the faith here in Ephesians 2 is talking about our faith. It took a perfect work for our salvation. You have to divide the word of truth here like Timothy said. It can't be our faith because our faith wavers everyday. So it must be God's faith, but He doesn't put his faith, here, in us because once again, we are not perfect. It was Him placing His faith in the Son.”

Keith: “I agree. I just brought that up to show how some people use the works salvation as eternal. I believe you are correct about these verses.”

Ann: “Thank you. Have you not heard people in our church say this verse is teaching about both types of salvation? I have heard it said but I just disagree.”

Keith: “My comments were directed more at the photo and not the verses Brother Jacob listed. Sorry about the confusion.”

Ann: “Keith, I wasn't really reacting to you, but to the verses because I have too often heard it interpreted the way I was bringing up.”

Jacob: “I have heard it preached both temporal and eternal. I'm not going to agree or disagree with that, but I do know that it is eternal. I've been trying to see for myself if this is talking about temporal as well, just haven't seen it. I do agree with Brother Keith's statement, but not sure if this verse in particular is referring to a temporal salvation. Scripture will interpret scripture. God reveals it unto us in His own time.”

Joseph: “Ephesians 2:4-9 KJVS But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Just my Interpretation but I believe verse 5 refers to eternal salvation by Christ alone. I believe verse 8 refers to our faith, given freely of God. The context of verse 8 is showing something through the ages to come. Faith shows us salvation. It also is a grace of the Lord.”

Ann: “Are we saved eternally through our faith? Every righteous act on our part is a gift of God, but none of them have any action toward our eternal salvation. I don't see how faith is any different no matter where we get it from.

I am a word maven. A result brought about "through" some action means that action is the mechanism by which it is accomplished. I don't believe any human work, no matter where it comes from is the mechanism of our salvation.

I am not answering in an argumentative spirit, only explaining why I believe what I believe. We don't know each other well and I want to be clear that I am not disagreeing just to be disagreeable.”

Ann: “Oh, I left out that the death, burial and resurrection is that mechanism of the grace by which we are saved.”

Jacob: “Thank you Brother Joe. This is good information and a great study. As I stated before, I will not agree or disagree. God reveals His word to each of His children in His own time. Either way, it IS by the unmerited favor of Christ that we are delivered FROM a dead state of sin TO a life of perfectness.”

Joseph: "The salvation referred to in verse 8, in my opinion, is not eternal redemption, but a temporal salvation that can only come to pass because of the eternal salvation referenced in v.5.

Jacob: Amen! I do see that Brother Joe. That is good. I can see that faith as an eternal sense. However one views that in an eternal sense, there is no way that can be the faith of man, for our faith is imperfect. That can only be God's faith in His Son. Our faith can be used here in a temporal sense, saving us from the trials of this life, and other situations that are not in an eternal sense. I see that from verse 7 mentioned. That you mentioned, "That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." The ages to come are now and He shows the riches of His grace through Jesus Christ whether it be in His word or other life situations.

Joseph: The faith of man is not at all instrumental in the eternal redemption of the elect. If in fact the 8th verse has an eternal application, it would have to be the faithfulness of God under consideration. However, this interpretation is awkward considering the context, IMHO. It just does not seem to be referring to God's faith in His Son (which is a very valid concept according to Rom ch 3)

Jacob: “I can see that. Thankful we agree of the faith of man is not instrumental in eternal salvation. But if verse 8 were eternal, wouldn't it have to be Gods faith in His Son? How else could it be?”

Joseph: "I agree."

These comments remind me very much of my own articles where I bring to light this mass confusion on “faith” in the Bible:
Consistent of Alternating Faith in Ephesians 1-2?
The Latest Invention on Ephesians 2:8

Were I to join this conversation (an idea very tempting), it would be about 10 against 1 so I abstain.  If I did, however, I would show how these new interpretations of Ephesians 2:8 are different, not only from their ministers of the distant past, but it is not even the position of the denomination 20 years ago! Many of the current big-name preachers among them utterly deny God's faith in His Son as that which is under consideration in this passage.  Rather, they defer to "seed faith" to get around their objections to gospel means.

In short, Hardshells started with the correct view of “evangelical, personal faith” in the 19th century. But due to a growing opposition towards “gospel means” the predominate view of the 20th century became a “subconscious, seed faith” planted within the sinner at regeneration.  And now in the 21st century, in order to even further distance themselves from the notion that a sinner must at least have “something” to be saved, a growing number are embracing the “faith of Christ” as a further alternative.  In the above conversation, however, I do wonder why none of them bring up the notion of “seed faith” as a possible interpretation of Ephesians 2:8.  Why, it served as a rebuttal to Calvinists and Arminians alike for almost the entirety of the 20th century!  What has changed that they choose to no longer use this erroneous teaching as their rebuttal to gospel means, but have adopted yet another novelty: the faith God has in His Son? The fact that none suggest this possibility in the above conversation proves that after dusk the night only gets darker.  In their continuing evolution of doctrine the Hardshells are plunging themselves further and further into error. 

But what do we say for those among them who continue to say that Eph. 2:8 is talking about "seed faith"?  Are they wrong? If so, should it brought before the church?  Carried to the association? Should they be osctracized?

If they would simply go back and look at the faith discussed in chapter one they would see what "kind" the Apostle Paul had under consideration. But the opposition to gospel means is so strong, this won't happen.  And so, Hardshell hermeneutics rule the day!

No comments: