The Grid at Work – response to a comment

I received a comment on one of my posts the other day and I hesitated to approve it simply because it was written almost as a spam advertisement.  It had little to do with my blog, except as an opportunity for the writer to set me straight.  After some thought, I decided that it was an excellent example of grid thinking, which we have just considered.  I do not know who the writer is, although a link to a pro-Catholic website written by a Michael Gormley was placed at the end of the article.  I have not included it because I didn’t want to encourage the spamming. If the actual writer would contact me, I would revise this post to include his or her name.

So, here’s the format.  The intro and the bullet points belong to the writer.  I have added the full text of most of the verses he/she used and have indented them.  Under the verses, in italic blue print and indented again, are my notes.  I have no intention of entering into a long debate with this person, but it seemed to be a worthy exercise in dealing with and exposing performance grid thinking.

Remember: only the entries in blue are mine!

 

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO BE SAVED

To be saved, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).

However, that’s not all. Sacred Scripture clearly shows other things you must also do to be saved:

You must endure to the end. Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13.

And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22

But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Mark 13:13

There are a couple of concerns here.  First, none of these verses suggests that we should endure to the end in order to be saved.  In other words, endurance does not cause salvation.  To be saved, as written here, is clearly in the passive.  It is still what God does for us.  But there is something more important for a proper interpretation.  To be saved, in Greek, can mean something like “to be vindicated.”  If we understand the context of the verses, they refer to those who suffer for their identity with Jesus.  They will be mocked, reviled, and hated—but in the end they will be vindicated.  Some will die before that vindication is seen publicly, but some will not and those who last through the suffering will, in the end, see Jesus coming in His glory. 

You must accept the Cross (suffering). Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27.

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:38

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

(Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23 simply duplicate the other verses.)

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27

First, I have no hesitation in saying that I am not worthy of Jesus, nor could I, on my own, be His worthy disciple.  These verses only suggest that we are saved by His grace and love, rather than our good actions.  Second, repentance means that we look at ourselves and see our failure.  When we reject the efforts of our flesh to accomplish what is necessary for salvation, we die to our accomplishments and worthiness.  We are called to die, as Bonhoeffer said.  As we die with Christ, according to 2 Timothy 2:11, we live with Him.  I suppose this is actually a requirement for salvation, but it is nothing of us.  My cross would mean nothing toward my salvation except that His cross would give me life.   

You must be baptized with water. Mark 16:16, Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:20-21.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.   Mark 16:16

not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,   Titus 3:5

who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,   1 Peter 3:20-21

This is a strong example of the grid at work.  Those who believe that baptism saves will see that in these verses, even though the Titus verse says nothing about baptism.  Once again, the cause and effect relationship is used to support the grid.  In Mark the deciding factor is clearly faith, but those who use the works grid see baptism as the key.  Peter is very careful to tell us that his use of baptism does not suggest water as washing the flesh, but he is talking about faith and repentance.  These verses actually say nothing to support the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation.

You must be a member in God’s true church. Acts 2:47.

praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

Notice the confusion about cause and effect here.  Is it inclusion in the church that causes salvation or salvation that causes inclusion in the church?  There is a true Church and it is made up of those who have been saved throughout history.

You must confess your sins. James 5:16, I John 1:9.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Those who are not in the Catholic tradition understand the confession of sins to be part of true repentance.  It is simply the acknowledgement of our need.  Because we are, by nature, sinful, we need a Savior.  Once our sin has been acknowledged and we admit our need for the Savior, the regular confession of sin, to a priest or a pastor, is not necessary.  The Holy Spirit, who is alive within us, convicts us and works in us when we wander from His will.  Again, these verses say nothing of salvation. 

You must keep the Commandments of God. Matthew 5:19-20, Matthew 7:21.

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19-20

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Matthew 7:21

Good luck with this!  If our salvation requires us to be perfect in keeping the will of the Father we are in trouble.  But that is not what these verses say.  The first passage speaks of exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees, which would be a particularly difficult thing to do if we judged our righteousness according to their standards.  But, if we see them the way Jesus saw them, as hypocrites who used the law to appear more righteous than others without having a true relationship with God, then there may be hope for us.  Still, the requirement of righteousness is more than just avoiding hypocrisy.  Any sin would be too much.  Any infraction would keep us from Heaven.  So, we understand that our effort is hopeless and we throw ourselves on the mercy of God in Jesus.  When we do that, and die to our fleshly pursuit of righteousness, then Jesus gives us His life and His righteousness.  (See Romans 3:21-31; Romans 5:17; Romans 10:3; et al)

You must heed the words of St. Peter, the first Pope. Acts 11:13-14, Acts 15:7.

And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ Acts 11:13-14

And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. Acts 15:7

Pretty easy to see the grid here.  Not only do these verses say nothing about salvation, they also say nothing about the priority of Peter.  They do tell us that Peter was an apostle, gifted and charged with taking the gospel to the Gentiles.    

You must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. John 6:51-58, I Corinthians 10:16, I Corinthians 11:23-29.

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:16

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;  and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  1 Corinthians 11:23-29

I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”  John 6:51-58

The first two passages simply tell us that Jesus wants us to remember what He did.  To help us remember, He established the Lord’s Supper.  It seems clear that He desires for His people to remember in this way.  However, there is nothing that suggests this is a requirement for salvation.  The last passage is about far more than communion.  In fact, this is what communion is given to symbolize, the fact that we have died and the life of Christ is in us.  If that is not true, if you are not dependent on His life, then you are not saved. 

Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. CCC 1996, John 1:12-18, John 17:3, Romans 8:14-17, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.  John 1:12-18 

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:14-17

as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4

These are great verses, verses which show plainly that it is not by our own effort that we are saved, but by the gift of God who freely gives us “all things” in Jesus.  It is fascinating to jump from baptism, church membership, obedience, communion, etc. as requirements for salvation to these wonderful assurances that it is all the work of the Lord for us. 

The only Church that meets all the requirements of Salvation is the Holy Catholic Church.

Huh?  I thought we were talking about people being saved.  Now the church is saved?  But, according to this way of thinking, becoming part of the Catholic church saves simply because the church seeks to maintain a set of standards and rituals.  For some this is so powerful that church affiliation overrides all practical, lifestyle, and confessional evidence to the contrary.  

So, there you have it.  An excellent example of the kind of grid thinking that clouds a person’s reason and causes him to become legalistic and judgmental.  Even the way this was sent to me, with no name and a list of Scriptural “darts,” is how legalistic grid thinking works. 

(I am traveling these days.  This series of posts was quite popular a couple of years ago.  I hope you find them helpful.  Please feel free to comment as usual.  See you on the other side!  – Dave)

6 Comments

Filed under Freedom, grace, heart, Legalism

6 responses to “The Grid at Work – response to a comment

  1. Becky

    Took me 2 days to read. Still plan on copying and pasting to print out for further study. Simply put, profound! Thank you Dave. Thank you!

    • It is really too long for a blog entry, but that’s the way these things go. In the rare times I go back and forth with these folks, the pages add up quickly. Sometimes it is a battle of verbiage rather than a battle of truth, I think.

      In any case, I hope it is helpful to some who are able to read through it. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Angela

    ..wow…heaven would sure be an empty hollow place if this were the criteria for getting through the gate. On behalf of some Catholics I know, they don’t all have this convoluted set of “mea culpa forever” beliefs.
    thanks Dave for plowing through that whole entry and deciding to share it. Your answers brought grace and peace again

    • I find answering someone like this painful. You know they aren’t willing to listen and they have already judged you. On the other hand, I wrote all this so that readers would see that there are simple answers for the accusations and assertions. Grace is truth and truth stands strong. We don’t have to be intimidated by the ranting or passion of someone who is wrong. And, you are right, this certainly does not represent all Catholics. Many Catholics are understanding the grace and love of God in Jesus.

  3. Bill Metzger

    The thief on the Cross (Luke 23) met NONE of the criteria usually listed as “conditions” for salvation, and yet he was promised Paradise! Grace ALONE! Ephesians 2:1-9.

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