Thursday, June 26

Is Faith a Work?

Karl asked (kind of asked, I guess...) me this and the comments are getting to be so long, so I am moving it here...
You still haven't understood what I'm saying.It is necessary for Christ to be
preached in order for His saving work to become ours by faith. You clearly agree
with this.Thus, the Word saves you. Paul says it saves you. Peter says it saves
you.So obviously, they are adding something to salvation--according to your
logic.Because when Lutherans say that Baptism saves--in the same sense that the
Word saves--you say they are adding to the work of Christ. We no more add to the
work of Christ than Paul, Peter, and you when all three agree that it is
necessary for the word to be preached, and that the word of Christ gives
salvation.I'm glad to debate all the other points we're talking about here on
the basis of God's word, but I want to make sure you see this point above before
we go any further.I'm sorry you think it's rude that I don't read all of your
posts, but I kind of think that it's rude that you presume to call the pure
Gospel all sorts of names without even clearly understanding it.The other
arguments about free will we can talk about later. But first, do you understand
that the Word is a means of grace--that is to say, that you cannot have faith in
Christ's blood without the preaching of the good news? And if so, do you
understand how it is hypocritical to accuse Lutherans of adding the work of
baptism to the cross, when you (and Peter and Paul in the bible) insist that the
preaching of God's Word saves?

I don't believe a person needs to be preached to to be saved or to hear the gospel. One can read His word and understand the simplicity of the gospel if they are open. Also the people who do not have the gospel are judged based on the knowledge they have, whether they have rejected what little they have. I have already went through this. I Tim. 3:15 says that people had the knowledge since childhood that leads to salvation... Eph. 5 says that the people hardened their heart, not that God did. James separates faith from works (most religious people know of those scriptures)...

Regardless, the preaching is a work which I do not do it to get saved. Someone else does, and then I get saved. I did not do the work of preaching.

Also, Scripture NOWHERE teaches that faith is a "work". John 6:28, people ask what works they can do of God and Jesus corrects them... John 6: 29 "This is the work OF GOD that you believe in Him whom He has sent." How much more clear can one get than that? So, God calls everyone, but only the person who chooses to come, receives the free gift of salvation.

At best, the Word of God brings the message of salvation to a person but it is the blood of Christ which saves them. Faith is not a work and preaching that leads to salvation is a work of someone else. I am still preaching the cross of Christ and nothing else. Baptism is you getting into the water...

John 12:32 Jesus says He draws ALL men to Him, so why aren't all men saved? Because they have the free will to say "no thankyou, not today" or "No thankyou, I've got things under control"


Karl said...

Preaching is not a work that you did,correct. Neither is baptism a work that a person did either. In both cases someone else does it.

You have asserted that Lutherans are teaching works righteousness because they say that Baptism gives forgiveness. That is to say, it conveys the saving benefits of Christ crucified to the person who is baptized, and those benefits are received by faith alone. But you say that Baptism is a work.

What I keep saying is that, by the same logic, preaching (or reading the Word of God) is also a work. That is to say, without hearing (or reading God's Word), you will not believe in Jesus' death for your sins on the cross.

Of course, saying that we need God's word is not adding to Christ's work on the cross. Instead, God's word brings Christ's saving work to us so that we believe and are saved.

That is what Baptism does, according to Lutherans.

So the argument that Lutherans teach salvation by works is not true.

On the other hand, your assertion that people can be saved without hearing the Gospel is not scriptural. Paul says, "How can they believe on the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10)

In Acts, Peter (I think) says, "There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved."

Again, Paul writes in Romans, "There is no one who understands, no one who seeks after God," and "both Jews and Gentiles alike are under sin."

That's why it is necessary for the Gospel to be preached, because we are by nature dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), and it is impossible for us to be saved apart from Christ.

The only light people have apart from the preaching of the Gospel is the law which is written on their hearts. But that knowledge cannot save us. Instead, knowledge of God's commandments and laws only condemns us, because we are unable to keep them.

You seem really to want to discuss the freedom of the will, and I'm about ready to go there with you, but first I want to settle whether or not God's word, or God's Baptism, are works or means by which God brings Christ and forgiveness of sins to us.

Christine H. said...


I've been busy lately. I was getting ready to go out of town, I went out of town and now I am recovering from being out of town, so I haven't commented on your blog lately. But I wanted to say "hi!"

try2bAsunbeam said...

Thanks Christine! I was MIA for quite some time until people started asking me questions. Hope you enjoying your trip!


You say baptism is a work done by someone else. That is true in the Lutherans case because they don't "get down into the water" as the Bible illustrates baptism as being preformed. So we really don't need to go there. IF you practiced biblical baptism YOU would have to go into the water to be baptized.
Before the Bible was written, faithful people preached the word, there was no NEW Testament/Gospel to read.
Faith is not a work. Baptism clearly is.

Romans 2:12 says that those without God's law are judged by what they know, not by whether they have the full gospel or not.Romans 1:18-21 points that out as well.

Luther taught that baptism gives the forgivness of sins. That without it, a person can not be saved. Do you believe that?

Someone else said that a person gets the Holy Spirit through baptism. I think Luther taught that as well. Do you believe that?

You said "That's why it is necessary for the Gospel to be preached, because we are by nature dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), and it is impossible for us to be saved apart from Christ. "

I agree with this, providing we have the same meanings behind the staement. It is impossible for one to be saved from hell apart from the blood of Christ. A person just having some knowledge of God can't be saved. Take myself, when I was a practicing Lutheran, I had all the pieces. I knew Jesus was God, the HS was God and Father was God, one being, I also knew that Jesus died for my sins, I also knew that Jesus went to hell. But I thought I had to do my best to keep those commandments to go to heaven, I had to go to church or I might not go to heaven and so on. And, yes, I also thought I HAD to be baptized, so I had the knowledge. BUT I wasn't saved. My faith was in me to do those things, not solely in the blood of Christ. There is no assurance of salvation that way. Now I have a ssurance. i KNOW where I will go when I die. Not because God is going to say, Gee Becca, you really tried. I'm proud of you!" But rather, I will be able to say, you paid for ALL my sins. I have never been good enough to even lift my voice to you, but yet, by the grace of God, you paid for my sins, so I don't have to oay for them myself. Thank you Father, for showing me the true love of Christ" A person who says that baptism saves has their faith in the water, not in the blood. I wish you would see that... It seems we are at some sort of standstill. I can't agree with you that baptism is not a work. I can't agree that it is nessasary for salvation either. And I can't agree that the Holy Spirit is given then. The Bible does not teach that. I suppose one could take a verse here and there and make it say that, but all the Word fits together.
Once a person understands the gospel, there is no changing that person's mind. I understand what it means to be forgiven, to have God pay for ME. It's awesome.

I personally never made a descision or asked Jesus into my heart or some other foolish cliche. I listened to someone preach (baptism of teaching) and I understood, and at that moment I was saved. I didn't see stars or fireworks, but it was as if a lightbulb (baptism of the Holy Spirit) went on in my head when I understood what it meant to be forgiven, to have my sins paid for...then, weeks later, I was water baptized in Lake Michigan in front of a crowd of people just as the apostles would've done it many years ago. Had I died prior to my water baptism, I was saved. I had the Holy Spirit. It's just that after understanding the message, the first step of obedience is to be baptized as an outward expression of my faith. It is a work, done by me. The apostles and the people of the Bible days were doing it at the cost of their lives. It was a big deal, but it had nothing to do with salvation or the forgivemness of sins. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins...

Karl Hess said...

Dear Mrs. Sunbeam,

(not trying to be rude, I just don't know your name.)

First of all, I'm glad that you understand and believe that your righteousness before God is solely based on Christ's work for you on the cross. I'm sorry that for whatever reason you did not learn that when you were in the Lutheran church, but that is what we teach and believe. "Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are, my glorious dress. Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head." "Salvation unto us has come, by God's free grace and favor. Good works cannot avert our doom, they help and save us never. Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, who did for all the world atone. He is our one redeemer." So go some of the hymns we sing in church.

Secondly, Luther did not teach that a person cannot be saved apart from baptism. You quote from his small catechism, where he says, "What does Baptism give or profit? It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare." He then goes on to say, "Which is this word of God? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

Every Lutheran who isn't ignorant will tell you that it is unbelief in the gospel that condemns, not lack of baptism. The problem arises when someone says, "I don't need to be baptized," because then they are either ignorant of God's word or simply disobedient. If disobedient, this is incompatible with faith. If ignorant, they need to be instructed. But Luther and Lutherans don't say you can't be saved without baptism. Obviously the thief on the cross was probably not baptized.

But you are right when you say that Lutherans believe that baptism gives forgiveness of sins and that you can trust it.

When Lutherans say that they are saying the same thing that you said about the Gospel--God's word.

God's word declares Christ's saving work. Because it declares that to you it gives you forgiveness of sins. Because it is God's word, you can trust it and rely on it. You rely on the Gospel, on God's word. You say, I am certain that I am going to heaven because God's word says that Jesus fulfilled God's law for me and died for my sins. When you rely on the word that tells you about the cross, are you detracting from the cross? Are you adding something else to it? Not at all. You are simply trusting in the word that says that Jesus' death on the cross is for you.

That is what Lutherans do when they trust in Baptism. They are not trusting in a magical work that has nothing to do with the cross. They are trusting in God's word. Baptism is God's word joined to the water. In Baptism God gives to us the saving merits of Christ just as He does to us in the preaching of the word.

You may not believe that this is really what Baptism is, but at least you can see that Lutherans are not saying "Jesus died on the cross and atoned for your sins. In addition to the work of God in the flesh, you also must do this additional human work of being baptized to be saved." You can say that that is what Lutherans believe, but we do not. You are saying that we say something that we do not say, kind of like if I kept telling you that you trust in a decision for Jesus after you just told me that you don't. (Which I am glad to hear, by the way.)

Now, finally, you insist that Baptism is a human work. I disagree. And maybe in the next post I will post the twenty or so verses in the new testament that I believe show that Baptism is God's Work and not ours.

But first, think about this. Is God's word--the preaching of it in the church, and the writing of it in Scripture--is that man's work or God's?

I'm not sure, but I think you would agree that God is the one who causes His word to be proclaimed so that people will be saved. Of course, people are involved, but ultimately God is behind it. The same God who planned our salvation and came down from heaven to die for us, is the same God who appointed the apostles to preach "repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations (Luke 24)", the same God who sent out the apostles to "make disciples of all the nations...teaching them everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28).

If preaching the Gospel is God's work, so is Baptism. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Jesus sent out the disciples to preach the Gospel. It wasn't their gospel. It came from God. He was the one who made it up. He was the one who decided to save us from our sins, to die for us, and to make sure this saving word was preached. He was the one who called the disciples, trained them, and sent them out.

He is also the one who instituted baptism. He told the disciples to baptize. He did it because He has "all authority in heaven and on earth." And He put the name of the Triune God in Baptism.

Baptism is not some extra work that people do to show that they believe, nor is it some magical extra. Baptism joins us to Christ who died for us, just like hearing the Gospel makes Christ crucified yours. So Paul writes, "Do you not realize that all of you who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Christ through Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6) He writes in Colossians 2: "In Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head over every rule and authority. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision not done with hands, in the taking off of the body of the flesh, with the circumcision of Christ, buried together with Him in baptism, and raised with him through faith in the power of God who raised Him from the dead."

I appreciate your reading my posts and the discussion, which helps me to look more carefully at the scriptures and appreciate the gifts of God.

My posts are long, but my main point here is that Lutherans do not view baptism as an additional work by which you merit God's favor, but like the word, a way by which He conveys to us the forgiveness of sins Christ won on the cross.

Anonymous said...

"Before the Bible was written, faithful people preached the word, there was no NEW Testament/Gospel to read."

Who were the "faithful people preaching"? And what were they preaching?

Why would Jesus say "...Search the scriptures..." if there was no Gospel?

Just what is the BIBLE?

Who is Jesus?

try2bAsunbeam said...

Thanks< karl, for your posts. I appreciate it. I too, have found the conversation enjoyable. Much better than the Packers or the weather, IMO.
I will take the time to rspond to your post on Monday. I am tired now and have church most of the day tomorrow. I hope you understand.

try2bAsunbeam said...

Dear Anonymous...

I said no gospel "to read". Not no gospel.

Jesus said that they searched the scriptures--that would be the Old Testament He was referring to as the new had not been written yet.

The bible is the written Word of God. And Jesus is God-aka the son of God, the word, the morning star, Lord, in O.T. He was not Jesus but was referred to as the Angel of the Lord, or the body part of the triune God.

What's your point? You keep asking the same question. If I am wrong, why not say so.

Or maybe I'm not even talking to the same "Anonymous" and if I am not, please forgive my bluntness.

The least a person can do is put a name so they can be somewhat identified or distinguished from a different anonymous person. I think that I will no longer post the anonymous comments as it is cowardly to not identify yourself with what you say.

try2bAsunbeam said...

You said "Luther did not teach that a person cannot be saved apart from baptism"

BUT Luther says:

"To put it most simply, the power, effect, benefit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is to save. No one is baptized in order to become a prince, but as the words say, to 'be saved.' To be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil and to enter into the kingdom of Christ and live with him forever." -- Martin Luther (Quoted from The Large Catechism)

Luther in fact believed that we are saved by "faith alone through baptism." However, you can't have it both ways at the same time--"Faith Alone" and "Faith through Baptism." The addition of "through baptism" in effect contradicts "faith alone."

In reality, Luther did not hold to justification by faith alone! If he had really held to this, lie would have rejected the doctrine of "baptismal regeneration." He did not! In fact, Luther called for the death of those (Anabaptists) who outspokenly believed in JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE and practiced BELIEVER'S BAPTISM. To get away from a gospel of works salvation, Luther referred to baptism as "God's Work" and not a work that man does. However, the OBJECT of Luther's faith was not Christ ALONE, but CHRIST plus BAPTISM

Luther in His Own Words from The Large Catechism (All from The Large Catechism of Martin Luther, translated by Robert Fischer)

"It remains for us to speak of our two sacraments, instituted by Christ. Every Christian ought to have at least some brief, elementary instruction in them because without these no one can be a Christian ... First we shall take up Baptism through which we are first received into the Christian community. ... Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved" (pp. 80-81).

"Hence it is well described as a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water, for through the Word Baptism receives the power to become the "washing of regeneration," as St. Paul calls it in Titus 3:5. ... Thus faith clings to the water and believes it to be Baptism in which there is sheer salvation and life…" (p. 84).

"He always [the Christian] has enough to do to believe firmly what Baptism promises and brings--victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God's grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with his gifts. In short the blessings of Baptism are so boundless ... Now here in Baptism there is brought free to every man's door just such a priceless medicine which swallows up death and saves the lives of all men. To appreciate and use Baptism aright, we must draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and we must retort, "But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, 1 have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body." ... No greater jewel, therefore, can adorn our body and soul than Baptism, for through it we obtain perfect holiness and salvation, which no other kind of life and no work on earth can acquire" (pp. 85-86).

"Thus we see what a great and excellent thing Baptism is, which snatches us from the jaws of the devil and makes God our own, overcomes and takes away sin and daily strengthens the new man, always remains until we pass from this present misery to eternal glory . ... As we have once obtained forgiveness of sins in Baptism..." (p. 90).

"Just so, when we are baptized into everlasting life and the kingdom of heaven ... Therefore it is necessary that we should be baptized into Jesus Christ and His death" (Commentary on Romans--Martin Luther, translated by J. Theodore Mueller, p. 10 1).

"... so, it is to be observed, must you also be saved in baptism. Just as that water swallowed up all that was then living, of man and beast, so baptism also swallows up all that is of the flesh and of the corrupt nature, and makes us spiritual (Commentary On Peter & Jude--Martin Luther, Kregel Publications, p. 169).

"Luther attached great importance to his baptism. When the Devil assailed him, he would answer, 'I am baptized"' (Here I Stand--Roland Bainton, p. 287).

As you can see by these quotes, Luther believed the water saved him. That He was saved by faith through the water in baptism.

I am saved through faith in the blood of Christ.

Two different gospels. He actually preached against the Anabaptists and sought to have them killed because they preached the same gospel as I am- that the water does not give forgiveness of sin.

If you need more quotes to show you what Luther said, I can give you more.


The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed "Subsequential Internal Non-Morality," or more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.

Some other symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction

2. Foul vocal emissions

3. Amnesia of origin

4. Lack of peace and joy

5. Selfish or violent behavior

6. Depression or confusion in the mental Component

7. Fearfulness

8. Idolatry

9. Rebellion

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.

The number to call for repair in all areas is:

Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control

Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Believers' Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility.

Thank you for your attention!

Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by "kneemail".