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Old 05-16-2014, 03:17 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by OBW View Post

Originally Posted by InChristAlone
Jesus did not come to make bad men good; He came to make dead men live.
This is one of those statements that gets thrown around a lot. And it sounds good. But I think it is an overly simplistic statement that I would find to be odd coming from either of the two oldest Christian groups we generally see today — the RCC and the EO. These kinds of statements sound more like the cheap grace that is often taught in some more modern evangelical groups. You know, the kind that want you to walk the aisle, say a prayer and then wait for heaven. The kind that don't think that salvation is much more than a change of underwear. I will agree that Jesus starts by making dead men alive. That is the initiation into the faith. But if it stops there, then there is a problem. We should continue in our faith and obedience to become what we were created for in this life — and that is, among other things, to be righteous. And if we do that, then we can honestly say that Jesus has made a bad man good. If we come to the end of our life and cannot say that, then there is a dark cloud over the very claim that we were ever made alive. I would not go so far as to declare that we simply were not made alive, but there is a question.
First of all, this “overly simplistic statement” can be supported by a few Bible verses:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6)

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Second, actually, I agree with you. So there is no field for an argument here. Probably, every statement and many Bible verses can be called “overly simplistic” or “cheap grace” if they are just words (for us), not supported by our faith and actions. It’s not what we hear and say, but what we do.

Third, as for doctrines of the EO church, especially the doctrine of personal salvation, they are far away from simplicity of Protestant doctrines. For the EO Christians, salvation is an ongoing process.

You can check out “An Orthodox Christian View of the Doctrine of Salvation by Faith” on Youtube.

Or read this book, “How are we Saved? The Understanding of Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition”, by Bishop Kallistos Ware

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter entitled "Are you saved?"

"Twice in my life, once in a bus and once in a railway carriage, I have been asked by a stranger: "Are you saved?" How should we reply to this question? For my own part, I hesitate to respond categorically, "Yes, I am saved." Such an answer suggests that my salvation is already here and now an accomplished fact, a fully realized and completed actuality. But how can I know for certain what my behaviour will be during the remaining course of my life? Despite God's guiding hand upon me, I still retain the power to say No to Him as well as Yes.

Long after his conversion on the road to Damascus St. Paul feared that after preaching to others he might himself end up "rejected" or "disqualified" by God (1 Corinthians 9:27 - "No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize".) Must we not show a similar caution? The warning issued by the pagan Solon applies equally in a Christian context: "Call no one blessed until he/she has died." It is the one who endures to the end who will be saved (Matthew 10:22; 24:13)"

St. Paul reminds us that although salvation is impossible in our own strength without God's prevenient grace, yet we are not creatures without free will and by God's grace - and with our continued co-operation and reception of that grace - we will one day be saved. He writes to the Philippians in Chapter 2:

"Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure".(Philippians 2:11-12 NRSV)

And again later in Chapter 3:"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14 NRSV)

Even Paul, the great saint himself, is not complacent, but humbly acknowledges that there is still work for the Lord to do in him. We would do well in using similar caution and humility when we talk about our own salvation.

Read Matthew 25:31-46, in which we find the parable of the sheep and goats. In this parable, Christ reveals that which He will ask of us when He judges us, as well as that which He expects from those who call themselves by His name. He asks if we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, given drink to the thirsty, ministered to the sick and imprisoned—and, of utmost importance, whether we have discerned His very image in those around us, especially the “least of the brethren.” If we fail to put our faith into action through such works of mercy, our faith is purely intellectual, “lip service,” so to speak. Simply stated, if we accept Christ as the Son of the Living God and the Savior of the world, yet we fail to bring His love to others around us, then we are liars. Hence, faith without such good works is dead, and it is precisely on our willingness to put our faith into action that our eternal salvation hinges, as Christ reveals in Matthew 25.

The Ascetic Ideal and the New Testament. Reflections on the Critique of the Theology of the Reformation by Father George Florovsky

This is one of the most important articles a Protestant inquirer to Orthodoxy could read. It is a lengthy survey of almost the entire New Testament. The author demonstrates that in each book the Orthodox doctrines of synergy and theosis are taught. He interacts constantly with the theology of Luther and Calvin, as well as the book Agape and Eros, by Anders Nygren.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
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