The following debate happened between myself and Church of Christ member Dave Bell. “Faith is a synecdoche (please see opening statements for a definition)” is an argument that is often employed by Church of Christ preachers. The claim is often made without any substantiation. Therefore I am grateful to Mr. Bell for participating in this debate with me as it is the only one on this subject on the internet. – Damon Whitsell
Opening Statement by Dave Bell
IS “FAITH” A SYNECDOCHE?
It has been said that “words written in truth are everlasting” and I believe that with all my heart. The question of this discussion is about the use of the word “faith” or belief and how it is used in scripture especially in regards to our salvation. Many contend that all one has to do is to believe or have faith in Christ and at that point one is saved and that it is by faith alone and nothing else since all other would be to add ‘works’ of our own to that salvation. In one sense that is true but it is only true if one realises that “faith is a synecdoche for the whole plan of salvation we must obey in order to be saved. So that is how am I using the word synecdoche here? We must define our terms for the discussion to continue.
Synecdoche: This word is from the Greek sunechdeechesthai meaning to receive jointly. It is usually spoken of as a figure of speech by which is spoken a whole by a part or a part by using a term denoting the whole.
All of us who read and study the Bible must remember that it is richly endowed with figures of speech and the synecdoche is one of the most common figures of speech used by the Bible writers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There fore we must read, recognise, and learn to correctly interpret synecdoche’s this is absolutely necessary if we would be faithful and accurate in drawing our conclusions on numerous passages and indeed subjects.
It is my contention in this discussion that “faith” of “belief” is a part put for the whole of the Gospel plan of salvation as it is presented in the New Testament that is all of the conditions of salvation are indicated by the use of one; generally that of faith this is the first one mentioned as without it nothing else would follow. The whole Gospel plan of salvation given is this: Hearing the Gospel, believing the gospel, repentance of sin, confession of Christ as Lord before men, baptism for the remission of sins, and living a faithful life until death. “Faith” involves all of these and is thus the synecdoche of salvation by Gospel obedience.
Men were to call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved (Romans10:17); they were to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved (Acts 16:31); they were to repent of their sins in order to be saved (Acts 17:30); they were to be baptised in order to be saved (Acts 2:38; 22:16). It is common for us to see one of these mentioned without any reference as to the presence of any other. That is how I am using “faith” as a synecdoche in this discussion.
If we were to put the word “alone” with all of these component parts I think we can see what I mean. We are saved by “faith alone” but are we? We could do this with the entire component parts of the plan of salvation legitimately since all on their own are synecdoches. We could say we are saved by baptism alone since it saves us (II Peter 3:21). It was not however Peter’s intent to teach us that all one must do to be saved was to be baptised. Yet by parity of reasoning with the faith only error we could say that Peter does indeed teach this since we forget how to employ the synecdoche in our reasoning. Baptism (a part) is made to stand for the whole plan of salvation as faith is made to stand as a part for the whole plan of forgiveness of our sins.
We are then to recognise and understand the various synecdoches that relate to the terms of our forgiveness of sins and thus our pardon. If we can do this I think we will find a truly beautiful and harmonious picture in the plan of salvation given to us by God through the Holy Spirit in the word.
However if we do not recognise them it is not possible to understand fully what God requires from us in order to be is for the whole plan to be Obeyed, not just one part of it at the expense of the rest. To repeat it, the whole for which a single element (synecdoche) is made to stand in various passages consists of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of one’s sins, confession of Christ as Lord before men, being baptised for the remission of one’s sins, and living faithfully until one dies.
Figures of speech are common in all languages and the Bible is no exception to this. Our New Testament was written in the common or koine Greek and the Greeks seemed to make a “science” out of figures of speech and we must learn to interpret those figures or “tropes” as they were called; tropes comes from tropos meaning a turn this is simply because these figures represented “turns” or variations from the normal literal meaning of words.
For this and the other reasons we have seen we must acknowledge that the Bible is replete with figures of speech. We must also learn to recognise when a writer or speaker is using figurative terms like the synecdoche, and to correctly interpret those terms as a failure to do so can lead to disastrous consequences for us especially in regards to our salvation.
If we look at a question such as “How long was Jesus in the grave?” we can see how a synecdoche works in practice. In Mark15:42-43; Luke 23: 50-54; and John 19:31, we can see that the crucifixion occurred on a Friday. Then in Matthew 28:1ff; Mark16:2ff; Luke 24:1ff; and John 20:1ff, we can see that the lord’s resurrection was on the first day of the week or Sunday.
Now even though these statements are clear there are many unbelievers who will tell us that Christ’s own words just cannot be harmonised with a sixth day crucifixion (Friday) and a first day resurrection (Sunday). The prophecy they will all go to is found in (Matthew12:40) where Jesus said that He would be three days and three nights in the grave. They are quick to show that part of Friday night, the entire day and night of Saturday and part of Sunday are equal to only ‘part’ of days and only two nights. I think that what is even sadder is that some who claim to be believers also make this argument and agree with the unbelievers.
Now if it be demanded that we take the Lord’s words strictly literally then we do have a problem as they would contradict what He had spoken in passages such as: (Matthew 16:21; Luke9:22; Mark 8:31; and John 2:19). Yet when Jesus said these things those who heard Him had no problem with them including His enemies.
All of these apparent difficulties melt away when we recognise that the three days and three nights are a synecdoche of time in which the phrase “three days and nights” actually refers to a part of that time.
If we go back nearly a thousand years and read (I Kings 12:5, 12) we can see the exact same figure used by Rehoboam; where he says to the people “Depart for three days, then return to me, so the people departed.” Then Jereboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the “third day” as the king had directed, saying “Return to me on the third day.” So we can see that this type of synecdoche was very familiar to the Jews and they would understand what Jesus had said to them hence they had no problem with His words at all and never made the argument the atheists and some “believers” make about ittoday. All that was needed was to understand the type of figure Jesus used and here it was a synecdoche and is an example to ustoday.
If we now look at some Biblical examples of salvation we might begin to see how this figure is used in scripture. The question we must ask ourselves regarding these synecdoches is this: Is this “all” or is it only a part of what God requires for us to be saved?
(1) (Titus 3:5) “According to His mercy He saved us.”
(2) (Hebrews 7:25) “He saves to the uttermost them that draw near to God.’
(3) (Matthew 10:22) “He that endures to the end shall be saved.”
(4) (Romans 10:17) with (Matthew 10:32 “He who confesses Me etc.
(5) (I Peter 3:21) “Baptism now saves us.”
(6) (John 3:16) “He who believes shall have eternal life.”
(7) (Mark 16:16) “He who believes AND is baptised shall be saved.”
I think when we examine these properly and interpret them right we must agree that all of these are synecdoches they are part of the plan of salvation that have been given to represent the whole of that plan of salvation.
This raises a question that I think demands an answer from us if we are to be logical in our interpretations and that is this: Should we now fault the Holy Spirit (who inspired the New Testament writers) for NOT stating ALL the conditions of salvation every time the subject occurs, both God and our part in it?
This in turn provokes (to me) another question which is this: Why is it that when the word “faith” appears in the New Testament that those who claim that this alone saves us feel that they must insert the word “only” after faith? We can surely all agree that what we have just looked at are indeed synecdoches yet with faith it suddenly changes here, why? I think that it has to be this way for the “faith only” corner because if they believe this doctrine then in order to be true and consistent to it they must then teach that faith is the only condition thus when it appears it simply cannot stand for anything else. This I deny.
The only place that the doctrine of faith only is discussed is in (James 2) and in that passage it explicitly states that faith according to the non synecdoche corner cannot and does not save us.
This is because true faith produces and works through love (Galatians 5:6) if it does not do this then faith does not work at all. Further if we love God then (I John 5:3-4) will tell us that this is the love of God that we keep His commandments and that his commandments are not grievous for whatsoever is begotten of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that overcomes the world (even) our faith.
The last question is has your faith overcome the world and if so how can it be “faith only?
DEBATE: Is faith a Synecdoche?
Denial Opening Statement
by Damon Whitsell
Hello Dave, thanks for this debate and bringing up this interesting topic, it’s a new one for me. In researching for this debate I found many Church of Christ articles that claimed faith is a synecdoche. But they all just made the assertion without trying to prove or make a positive case for that assertion. I look forward to hearing your affirmative case and responding.
A Synecdoche, as I understand it, is a figure of speech in which a part represents a whole of something, or the whole represents a part of something, such as a “hand” represents a “worker”. And from our prior interactions and your posting in the group, I take it that by saying “faith is a synecdoche” you mean the word faith means to do or “obey” the “whole plan of salvation” which is “hear, repent of sin, believe, confess, be baptized for remission of sin and live a faithful life” (6 steps). I think you will have a hard time establishing the truthfulness of that claim and my reasons follow.
I had to look up the term synecdoche and found Wikipedia list over 20 examples of synecdoches. All of them apply to nouns like the example above (please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synecdoche). A synecdoche represents “the whole” or “a part” of a “thing” and seems to not apply to verbs, and most NT usages of faith are used as a verb. Faith is used 245 times; about half appear to be in the verb usage. And faiths synonym in the purely verb forms believe and believeth are used 124 and 41 times. Can you provide me with any examples of a synecdoche of any kind being applied to and used as verbs, as you’re doing in saying a synecdoche is doing or “obeying” ie. the 6 steps (which are all verbs or doing something).
Also the Greek definitions involved define faith, believe and believeth as trust. Eleven times in the book of John Jesus says that those who believeth in Him have (present tense) everlasting or eternal life (John 3:15-18, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40,6:47, 7:38-39 and 11:25-26) – He does not say that we don’t have eternal life until we do such and such steps and live a faithful life. The Greek word used for believeth is Strong’s “G4100 pisteuō: to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with”. This is consistent with the English definition of faith as exemplified in putting your trust in a chair when you sit on it. Imagine how different that is to how you’re defining faith. Jesus was speaking matters of eternal life or death (condemnation) and it is hard to imagine, and you will have a hard time convincing others, that when he said believeth in me, he really meant do or “obey” the “whole plan of salvation” which is “hear, repent of sin, believe, confess, be baptized for remission of sin and live a faithful life”. When He said those that believeth in Him have eternal life, the NT command for water baptism had not even been given yet; there was only John’s baptism. How could Christ use a figure of speech as a present imperative to include something that did even exist yet? Why did he say believeth in me instead of giving a list of things to do, one being living a whole life of faithfulness? And why did Paul and Silas in Acts 16:31 not just spell out the “Plan of salvation” and what we must “obey” and do to be saved? Why did they say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” instead of clearly laying out the steps (if steps are involved?) when asked such an important question as “what must we do to be saved?”. Why would they use a figure of speech and not straight forward language c0ncering the matter of salvation?
PREACHING THE PLAN INSTEAD OF THE MAN
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
I find that when many talk about salvation or being saved, they do not even use or have the correct definition of save, saved or salvation in mind. The terms in Hebrew, Greek and English predominantly means to deliver, to rescue from harm or danger, to deliver from sin, to preserve and protect. These actions come from outside of us. They are not something we do. We are merely recipients. Webster’s defines salvation as “the act of saving someone from sin or evil : the state of being saved from sin or evil”, “something that saves someone or something from danger or a difficult situation” and “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”. It was Christ “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). Before the foundation of the world “… God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Salvation is simply not about what we do, but rather what God and Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, delivering us from the wages of our sin – death. There is a plan of salvation. And with any plan there is doing involved. But we are not the ones that do the doing. As it has been said before, “Christ has done it all”. I would contend that salvation is simply belief/trust in Christ finished work for our saving/rescue – by his death, burial and resurrection for our sins, according to scripture. Salvation is not about doing or “obeying” “the whole plan of salvation”. It is about believing the plan of salvation. And the focus of that plan is on Jesus Christ and his actions, not ourselves. Biblical Christianity is not a do religion, it is a done religion.
That salvation is not about what we do is also strongly indicated by the biblical use of such terms as redemption (to purchase), reconciliation (restoration to divine favor), propitiation (the act by where which God‘s righteous wrath is satisfied by the atonement of Christ), atonement (restoration to divine favor), deliverance (from sin), ransom (from the wages of sin) and justification (a onetime event in which God justifies sinners by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to their account through a legal declaration). The definitions of these words and their usage in scripture show us that salvation is not something we do (Eph. 2:9, Jonah 2:9). Salvation is done on our behalf.
Scripture also says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans8:28-30). We cannot make ourselves right before or acceptable to God. It must for done for us by God. We cannot even come to Christ unless the Father draws us and even our faith is a gift and not of ourselves. Another reason we are not saved by what we do is that we are not saved by our righteousness, which is like filthy menstrual rags, but we are saved by being made the righteousness of God – which is a free gift to those who believe in Jesus Christ and His name.
It must also be remembered that God works covenantally and the bible is a covenant document. It was predetermined in an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world that Christ would be slain to take away sin for those whom the Father has given Him (Rev_13:8, Hebrews 13:20, John6:37-39, John 17:9-12, John 17:24, John 1:29). And because this contract agreement is between God the Father and God the Son we can rest assured that it will be fulfilled and that Jesus will indeed save and keep secure all those the Father has given him. We can rest in the fact that Christ has done it all for salvation and we are saved when we believe and trust in Him as the payment that the Father and Son made for the penalty of our sin.
Other problems with the idea that faith is a synecdoche that means obeying your 6 step plan is that repentance as turning from sin, baptism for the remission of sin and the notion that we can live a faithful life are not taught in the Bible. That is something I will cover in my counter-responses. Our only hope is to be saved by mercy and grace and the promise that Jesus will remain faithful even if we do not remain faithful.
2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.”
First counter-response by Dave Bell
First I want to thank the administrators for allowing me to respond to Mr Whitsell and I will do my best to address the points covered. If we look at scripture I think we would both agree that there are places where a part stands for the whole and we have no difficulty in understanding that. If we use that term I think we can see how it works when we come across it. The word sunechdeechesthai or to “receive jointly” does not as far as I know make a distinction between nouns and verbs and the root for faith and belief in Greek is the same. The words “faith”, “trust” and “believe” all come from the same Greek root.
You say that when Jesus said to “believe” in Him that the command for water baptism had not been given yet in (John 4:1) we read of Jesus “baptising” people as we do in (John 3:22;26.) John of course was the forerunner of Christ and he had a baptism also and it incorporated repentance. In (Luke7:30) we read that those who were baptized by John’s baptism were acknowledging or justifying the justice of God, how much more then is it to be baptized under the N.T. command to do so? Also the new covenant was not operating under John or before Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. I will only add to this that the Jews who heard Christ at this point in His ministry did know what a synecdoche was and how it worked as I pointed out in the “days in the earth” synecdoche. The New Testament command to be baptised for the remission of sins did not come into operation until (Acts 2.)
Further the command to “believe” given to the Jews was more in line with them to believe that He was the Messiah and to do what He commanded since the Jews knew what He would be like and what he would do and even command. In (Zechariah 13:1) for example it was stated that in Jerusalem there was a fountain to opened for sin and impurity and that was opened in (Acts 2:38.)
“Preaching the plan and not the man”
The thing here is that the man had a plan and it was worked out in eternity and thus when Christ came He brought that plan with Him and the plan was the Gospel which Paul states categorically is the “power of God for salvation.” (Romans 1:16). You mention (Romans 5:19) yet that is often taken way out of its context I think. If you look at that verse I believe that when you look at the word ‘katestathesan’ which is a verb you see that many were constituted sinners and not ‘made’ sinners who did this constituting? It was not Adam but God as it could be no one else. We also must look at the word hamartoloi and use it unqualified then we have to say it is denoting ‘actual’ sinners but it is not saying that in the text since the verb katestathesan itself qualifies the word. So when Paul says, “the many were constituted sinners.” His language is implying that they did not become sinners by their own acts. On the contrary they were merely constituted sinners this is why the choosing of the verb used was to negate the idea of their being actual sinners and it does so effectually.
Christ by His obedience of his death on the cross constituted many righteous and the same verb is used here and then to say that “all” in Adam die but “all” in Christ are made alive includes Adam. All are constituted just but that does not mean being sinless or pardoned here at all, it means just for a certain purpose and not absolutely just. I t means this that by Adam’s disobedience the all were to be subjected to death, but by the obedience of Christ all are constituted just so far as to be raised from the dead and indeed all will be.
You also ask why Paul and Silas in (Acts 16:31) did not just spell out the “Plan of salvation” and what we must “obey” and do to be saved. Why did they say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” instead of clearly laying out the steps (if steps are involved?) when asked such an important question as “what must we do to be saved?” Why would they use a figure of speech and not straight forward language concerning the matter of salvation?
I answer that by saying we already know the plan and Paul did spell it out to them since they were all baptised as well it seems they understood the synecdoche here and also why do we need it spelled out every time we see the plan of salvation in action.
The Ethiopian eunuch understood the plan exactly if we look at it: Philip preached to Him and explained the Gospel of Christ, The eunuch understood that Gospel and its plan he heard the word and obviously repented of his sin and confessed his belief in Christ. He asked the evangelist “See here is water” so he obviously had been told to be baptised for the remission of his sins, the eunuch answered “what hinders me [then] from being baptised?” The evangelist replied “if you believe with all your heart you can be baptised.” Then the eunuch replied “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” If you examine this carefully you find that you have hearing, believing, repentance, confession and baptism. This is the whole plan spelt out and enacted. It is under the synecdoche if you “believe” and we find that since he did all the rest followed and the eunuch was thus saved and went on his way rejoicing.
Also I will direct your attention to (Hebrews 5:9) where it explicitly states that Jesus Christ is the author of eternal salvation to them that obey Him. Thus we see that in order to be saved we must indeed obey Him and I add to that His plan of salvation.
You say too that Salvation is not about doing or “obeying” “the whole plan of salvation”. It is about believing the plan of salvation. And the focus of that plan is on Jesus Christ and his actions, not of us. Well to say that is to say that we believe in the plan but do nothing else at all and I do not believe the Bible says that at all. For instance in (John 3:36) we read this: “He that believes on the Son has eternal life; but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” We also see that “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Gen.26:5). We can never get away from the fact that believing incorporates obedience and they go together hand in glove and we are to obey the plan that the man (Christ) gave to all men in order to be saved.
In Acts 2:38 we are to repent and be baptised for the remission of our sins, and here we see nothing mentioned of faith as the two perquisites are themselves synecdoches for the plan of salvation and obviously include faith within them.
Baptism is shown in every case of conversion in the book of Acts and thus is a synecdoche for the entire plan of salvation and is a requirement of it. Baptism is also a noun and thus there is a synecdoche applying to a noun.
You also say that “faith” is a gift ‘not of ourselves’ in (Ephesians2:8 I deny that this is the case since it says we have been saved by grace ‘through’ faith and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God. But what is the gift of God in that verse? Some will say grace, some faith and some salvation, but what does the grammar require in that verse? Consider this: in the Greek the words for grace and faith are both feminine. The pronoun “it” is not in the Greek it is supplied by the translators. However, “it” is the same as “that” in the clause “”and that not of yourselves; and the word “that” is neuter. Greek grammar requires that a pronoun should agree with its antecedent in gender thus the word for neither “grace” nor “faith” can be the antecedent of “that.” This shows that neither of them can be the gift of God in this verse. Therefore the only possible antecedent is the salvation expressed by the word “saved”. Salvation here is expressed not by the noun but the verb and Greek grammar requires that a pronoun which refers to the action of a verb for its antecedent must be neuter. This is the case in (Ephesians 2:8) and the meaning is: “you are saved by grace through faith; but the salvation is not of yourselves it is the gift of God.”
Finally it is true that the Bible is a covenantal document and that Christ made His covenant with God in eternity to become the saviour of mankind. However we are under the “New Covenant, testament or will of Christ and it is the final and universal covenant as against the old national covenant God made with the Jewish nation and the covenants He made with various patriarchs. This final covenant has within it the terms we must obey in order to gain the benefits of Christ’s will.
We are to obey Christ in the synecdochal aspects of His covenant Believe, repent, confess, be baptised etc and remember this too how does faith come to us? “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Thus we are to hear and that is a synecdoche for the whole gospel plan of salvation it is to be heard and then acted upon to fulfil the terms of Christ’s will and thus gain its benefits.
Thank you again for the opportunity to explain this to you all.
DEBATE: Is faith a Synecdoche?
DENIAL – First Counter-response
by Damon Whitsell
Hi Dave, to sum up – in my opening statement I posited that synecdoches appear to only apply to nouns and requested you provide examples of synecdoches being used as and applied to verbs such as you’re doing. Neither of your first two examples of synecdoches are verbs applying to verbs. And I don’t see where your list of 1-7 alleged synecdoches are actually synecdoches. You said “I think when we examine these properly and interpret them right we must agree that all of these are synecdoches”. I strongly disagree and think you are not interpreting most of those proof-texts correctly and as a result you are forced to resort to the argument that faith does not mean trust but really means “obeying” a six step plan and “living a faithful life” – a lifetime of doing as opposed to resting in what Christ has done for us. Please provide a clear example of synecdoches used as verbs in your counter-responses. Your assertion here is dependent on your interpretation of those verses (I will address this later) so please go outside of the bible to show that synecdoches can apply to verbs. Synecdoches are “parts” or the “whole” of “something” and are nouns applying only to nouns, can you show otherwise?
I also showed where faith in the Greek and English is best defined as trust and to have faith in Christ is to believe/trust that He has made provision for our sin debt on our behalf. And I showed many biblical terms and concepts that are actions outside of ourselves done by God and Christ on our behalf. I used Webster’s and bible dictionary definitions to show that salvation by definition is not something that the person who is saved does; we need a savior outside of ourselves to do the saving. I then showed that our salvation is not just a covenant between God and ourselves but one between God the Father and God the Son and is therefore something done on our behalf for our salvation. Christ will lose none that the Father has given Him. Salvation is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8) and surely “… the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Let me share with you what occurred to me this morning.
FAITH IS A SYNECDOCHE REDUCED TO ABSURDITY
“Reductio ad absurdum” or “reduction to absurdity” is a form of argumentation that the apostle Paul sometimes employed. A “reduction to absurdity” seeks “to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance”. And I think the notion that “faith is a synecdoche” results in an absurdity if it is followed to its logical conclusion, and is therefore untrue. And here is why.
If “faith is a synecdoche” and a synecdoche is “a part representing a whole of something” or vice versa, and the whole is “faith = obeying the whole plan of salvation” and the parts of the whole are your six steps of “hearing, repenting of sin, believing, being baptized for the remission of sin, confessing and living a faithful life” – what your essentially inferring (whether you realize it or not) – is that every time the words faith, believe, believed, believeth, hearing, calling, repent, repentance, repented, baptize, baptism, baptized, confession, confess, remission of sin, enduring or overcoming are used – they are each referring to “doing the whole plan of salvation”. The idea that faith is a synecdoche lumps all these terms and actions into one unified whole and that it is simply absurd to think none of these terms or “parts” stand on their own, as they are inherently defined. Together these words that you say are a part of “the whole plan of salvation” are used thousands of times throughout the bible in both the Old and New testaments. And it is simply impossible and absurd to think that every time one of these words are used as “a part of the whole” that they are actually referring to “the whole” which is “obeying the six steps”. And what is really absurd to the maximum about it is that if faith and all related words are synecdoches then there is not a clear and concise prescription of what it takes to be saved in all of scripture; it’s all been reduced to a figure of speech. Doesn’t the bible say something about being “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” in the context of going after false gospels? (2 Cor. 2:3-4)
You said “Should we now fault the Holy Spirit (who inspired the New Testament writers) for NOT stating ALL the conditions of salvation every time the subject occurs”.
I would say we cannot blame the Holy Spirit for not speaking in clear terms, the bible is abundantly clear in over 100 places that we are saved by grace through faith and believing in Christ without mention of any six steps of “salvation by Gospel obedience”. I don’t think it is very good news (gospel) to say we have to do steps and live a whole life of obedience in order to be saved,, none can measure up to that (please expound for us what you say “living a faithful life” actually means – what all does that entail?). And I think it is absurd to say “Baptism (a part) is made to stand for the whole plan of salvation”. The word baptism is used 22 times, baptize 9 times and baptized 61 times. To say that every time one of these words is used that it is referring to “hearing, repenting of sin, believing, being baptized for the remission of sin, confessing and living a faithful life” is very untenable. And to add to that and say that every time one of these terms (or parts listed above) are used that it is “referring to the whole” and it means “obeying” your six steps is a very absurd notion. Thus faith and all the components of your six steps cannot be synecdoches. Can you see the absurdity of it if you follow it to its logical conclusion? In saying faith is a synecdoche you are redefining too many terms in too many places to be believable. Surely your aware that redefining biblical terms is a practice of the Cults. I hope you and others can see the absurdity of the notion that faith and its related words are synecdoches, although I may have expressed it poorly
You said,,,, “Why is it that when the word “faith” appears in the New Testament that those who claim that this alone saves us feel that they must insert the word “only” after faith? We can surely all agree that what we have just looked at are indeed synecdoches yet with faith it suddenly changes here, why?”
We insert the word alone after the word faith because it does not mention anything else; faith stands alone – as it is defined. And to say that faith and all of its related words are really referring “the whole six step plan of salvation” is an absurdity that most will not accept. I think you have to already believe salvation by the six steps, or obedience, to believe such an audacious claim.
I see your most foundational and basic error of interpretation lies in thinking that James 2 is the go to place in scripture to clarify what salvation is. You and others that oppose salvation by faith alone seem to think James was teaching differently than Paul and the rest of scripture. But he is not. Paul is the apostle to the gentiles and James was a Jew speaking to Jews. They were speaking to two different audiences and emphasizing two different types of Justification. Paul said Abraham was justified by faith and had nothing to boast about before God. He was showing justification before God. Yet James said “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18). He is speaking about justification before men. And both Paul and James agree and said that Abraham believed God and it was counted or credited to him as righteousness. To see the two different kind of justifications see (Rom 4:2) “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God”. If Abraham was justified by works, as James at first glance appears to assert he is, he can glory before men but not before God. Romans 3: 19-20 says “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law makes all men “guilty before God” and “in his sight”, but we can be seen as just to men by observing and keeping the law and doing good works. This has to be the true understanding of James2:24 because the scripture is clear in so many places that we are saved through faith and not by works. James cannot be speaking in contradiction to the rest of scripture.
I have to wonder about you guys who take James 2 and try to say we are also justified by works, I wonder if you guys would even do good works if you did not think they contribute to your salvation. Maybe you should do a study on rewards in the bible so you could see that faith is for salvation and works are for reward, not salvation – which is a gift from God.
I will address the misinterpretation of scripture in your list 1-7 in my next counter-response, or we can go back and forth about those interpretations after our responses in our back and forth wrap-up time.
Second response by Dave bell
First I will answer the charge of reduction ad absurdum. In doing this I will first say this: It is not absurd at all to “lump” all the terms of the synecdoche into one unified whole at all since all these terms connote or qualify what true faith actually implies. In logic the connotation of a term is not its reference to a mere aggregate of independent qualities, but to a system of qualities related to one another so as to form a unity. If the term connotes qualities, it must connote them as elements within the unity of a system.
The absurdity is that you have defined “faith” as one thing and thus the term refers to such a system as strictly denotative. This means you have defined a thing “faith” as denoting one thing and have never qualified the term at all. Also you must draw a negative inference from a syllogism’s major premise and that is a fallacy since it does not necessarily follow that if a proposition is true, that a negative inference from that proposition is also true. The negative inference may be true but this can never be assumed. For example we can say this:
All orthodox Jews believe in Moses.
X is not an orthodox Jew.
Therefore X does not believe in Moses.
This cannot hold water because the conclusion depends on a negative inference from the major premise, X may be a Gentile who believes in Moses. Now consider this syllogism:
All who have faith in Christ are saved.
X does not have faith in Christ.
Therefore X is not saved.
The conclusion is true but the syllogism is invalid as it is an improper way of reaching a true conclusion.
Also when you say that one is saved “only by faith” or by “faith alone” you have both not qualified faith and have excluded thereby anything which faith may imply you have made an exclusive proposition from an unqualified term which itself excludes any and all things that qualify it and that is not good reasoning at all.
If I say “All lions are carnivorous” the term “lions” has denotation in so far as it refers to each individual lion or to the different varieties of lion e.g. African or Asiatic, and it has connotation in so far as it refers to the qualities or attributes of lions, e.g. vertebrate , quadruped, feline, animal ect. Similarly the term “carnivorous” is its reference to the various things (e.g. the kinds of animals) which have this quality, while its connotation is its reference to the quality itself. Thus every term (including “faith”) denotes the things or objects it refers to and it connotes its qualities.
“Faith” on it own does not do this and thus is unqualified, if you mean “saving faith” then you qualify it but what does that connote? I say we must have “obedient faith” and have given the connotation of that term as we must obey the plan and the whole plan of salvation. Not only so but I also say that obedient faith is saving faith and that is one thing the Bible teaches for sure
I take you back to the very first sermon of the New Covenant in Acts 2 and it is significant that the word “faith” is not mentioned in it at all none of the Jews there were ever commanded to believe on Christ and when they heard that sermon they asked only one thing, “what shall we do?” and Peter told them to repent and be baptised for the remission of their sins and they did this gladly.
Luke then says: “And all that believed were together” (v. 44). “Believed” sums up the obedience described previously. On the initial day of its existence, the church consisted of at least 3,000 souls. Later, Luke records that many others heard the word and “believed; and the number of men came to be about five thousand” (4:4). It is obvious that the 5,000 mentioned here included the 3,000 referenced earlier, and that the “believed” of this passage means precisely what it did in 2:44. After the baptism of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, Peter went to Jerusalem to defend his actions before a rather hostile Jewish audience (11:2). He argued that God had authenticated the Gentiles’ acceptance by giving them the Holy Spirit. The apostle then said:” If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we [Jews] believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?” (11:17).Note that the entire conversion process of the Jews (2:38) is simply referred to as “when we believed.” Yet “faith” is not mentioned explicitly in either sermon but it is obvious it is implied in what actions the converts followed in order to be saved.
On his second missionary journey, Paul, along with Silas, was imprisoned in Philippi. After a dramatic earthquake, by means of which God opened the prison doors and loosed the inmates’ bonds, the jailor pled for the knowledge of salvation. The brothers instructed him. His penitent faith was evidenced as he washed the blood from their backs and, near the midnight hour, he and his household were immersed into Christ. But look at how Luke describes the whole process, “. . . having believed in God” (16:34). The perfect participle depicts the state at which they arrived as a consequence of their obedience.
In the course of his first missionary journey, Paul, together with Barnabas, came to the city of Iconium. They entered into a synagogue of the Jews and proclaimed the gospel of Christ. There was an encouraging response for Luke says that “a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed” (14:1). Note the sentence that follows. “But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren” (ASV).The term rendered “disobedient” in the ASV is apeitheo, which carries the idea of refusing to be persuaded, a failure to comply (Thayer, p. 55). Moulton and Milligan, prominent experts in the Greek papyri, cite numerous examples of where apeitheo means “to disobey.” In conclusion they stated: “We have not sought for more instances, but it has seemed desirable to give rather plentiful illustrations to prove a case which is very important for doctrine.”
“Through whom we received grace and apostleship unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake [Romans 1:5]. Obedience of faith …” This is the first mention of faith in the Roman letter, and its being mentioned along with obedience is extremely significant. Paul was about to write the most important document on the subject of faith that the world would ever have, in which, of necessity, there would be written some of those things which even an apostle would consider “hard to be understood” therefore, it was a matter of gracious discernment upon his part that, in the very beginning of the letter, he made it clear that, throughout Romans, “faith” should be read “obedient faith.” Evidence is totally lacking that Paul ever considered “faith only” as efficacious in the procurement of salvation; because, as noted here, the apostolic commission was designed to produce the obedience of faith, and not merely faith alone. These same words, conjoined by apostolic authority, stand at the beginning of Romans and at the end, where they are mentioned in the final doxology (Romans 16:26), thus forming the archway through which one enters the portal and by which one departs this magnificent cathedral of sacred literature.
In Heb. 5:9 it states that Jesus became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. As has already been shown to obey Jesus as it relates to salvation has the meaning of believing in Jesus as Saviour and Son of God.
Finally on this point it is foundational that in order to receive faith one must first “hear” (Romans 10:17) thus in order to have faith its recipient is required to “do” something and that is to hear or listen as the recipients did in (Acts 2) and then act on that faith in order to be saved. What you do when you say we are saved by faith only is exclude every other thing true obedient saving faith implies. Repentance is excluded, confession and baptism are excluded, and even hearing is excluded by this unscriptural and exclusive term which the Bible itself NEVER uses.
“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Gen. 26:4-5 this shows how faith plus obedience works. Noah had to build an ark faith and obedience working together. They are never divorced from each other in scripture and that is the whole point I have made with the synechdoche of faith.
I have mentioned James 2 in this discussion but only in passing as this: “The only place that the doctrine of faith only is discussed is in (James 2) and in that passage it explicitly states that faith according to the non synecdoche corner cannot and does not save us.”
To answer your question how would I define living a faithful life I will let the Bible do it for me: (I John 1:7) “If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” These are all in the present tense too so we must continually walk in the light so the blood can continually cleanse us. Then the apostle says this: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. [Verses 8-10]. This is called the second law of pardon and applies only to Christians and not to alien sinners and we need to remember this if we are to understand how it works.
You say that obeying the 6 steps is an absurd notion yet my friend those 6 steps are in scripture and they are to be obeyed and obeyed for the reason they are assigned and that is for salvation. I am always intrigued that you want to incorporate them all in what we do yet by using “faith only” which is not a Biblical term at all exclude them from our obedience to be saved. Also the word “eis” is also bent to mean “because of” and that too is not correct especially as used in (Acts 2:38) since the apostle Peter states categorically when asked by his hearers “what must we do” [to be saved] implied in that question he tells them to “repent AND be baptised for the remission of your sins.” Now the conjunction there melds the two acts together and if we say that we must be baptised because we are saved the we must also say that we are to repent because we are saved and I know you cannot believe that since we can in no way be saved UNTIL we repent (Luke 13:3)
We are also told we will be forgiven if we forgive others but does that mean it is the only thing we must do for forgiveness? If a homosexual with many partners forgives someone who stole his wallet is he then forgiven? I think not and neither do you, he will be forgiven when he repents of his homosexuality and is baptised to have his sins washed away. That is the showing of real saving obedient faith in scripture.
I will end on this note and if you wish I will answer questions if we do have a “back and forth” area with this. Thank you again for the opportunity to put my case I apologise in advance for my lack of debating ability but hope that you all can understand what I have tried to show here. Thank you to the admins and to Damon.
SECOND RESPONSE BY DAMON WHITSELL.
Hello Dave, I will need much more than the 1500 words we agreed to because I copied and pasted your whole response to respond line upon line and paragraph upon paragraph. And I had to use about 1500 words just to show where your assertion that all instances of salvation in Acts culminates in baptism is not true. Thanks for agreeing and allowing for me to do so.
YOU SAID,,, “The word sunechdeechesthai or to “receive jointly” does not as far as I know make a distinction between nouns and verbs and the root for faith and belief in Greek is the same. The words “faith”, “trust” and “believe” all come from the same Greek root.”
I SAY,,, I gave a link to Wikipedia which shows over 20 examples of synecdoches, they all are nouns applying to nouns. I looked at two other lists of extra-biblical examples of synecdoches and consulted several dictionary definitions with examples and found the same result. I even found E.W. Bullingers gigantic work on figures of speech in the Bible. It has 44 pages of examples of synecdoches and after spending upwards of 15 minutes browsing through them I only saw nouns applying to nouns. And I never seen Faith, any of its synonyms or derivatives, or any of your alleged components of salvation listed there as synecdoches. Believe and believeth are verb forms of faith. And all your alleged components of salvation also involve verbs and action/works. Therefore can you show me outside of the Bible some examples of using verbs as a synecdoche.
Faith is biblically defined as “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). It means to trust in things you cannot know for certain.
YOU SAID,,, “You say that when Jesus said to “believe” in Him that the command for water baptism had not been given yet in (John 4:1) we read of Jesus “baptising” people as we do in (John 3:22;26.) John of course was the forerunner of Christ and he had a baptism also and it incorporated repentance. In (Luke7:30) we read that those who were baptized by John’s baptism were acknowledging or justifying the justice of God, how much more then is it to be baptized under the N.T. command to do so? Also the new covenant was not operating under John or before Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. I will only add to this that the Jews who heard Christ at this point in His ministry did know what a synecdoche was and how it worked as I pointed out in the “days in the earth” synecdoche. The New Testament command to be baptised for the remission of sins did not come into operation until (Acts 2.)”.
I SAY,,, Actually I said “the NT command for water baptism had not even been given yet; there was only John’s baptism”. You missed the NT part and that I conceded to Johns baptism being in effect. I did not say “for remission of sins” because I think most translations misinterpret the passage wrong. “For” in English and “Eis” in Greek can mean either “in order to obtain” or “because of”. And because Acts 10:43 tells us that remission of sins come to those who believe it is apparent that the Analytical-Literal Translation is correct when it renders the passage “Then Peter was saying to them, “Repent, and let each of you* be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, to [or, for; or, because of] [the] forgiveness of sins, and you* will receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Most importantly you did not answer my question. I asked “How could Christ use a figure of speech as a present imperative to include something that did even exist yet?” Think about it. You claim that faith and its derivatives are synecdoches for the whole plan of salvation which includes baptism for the remission of sin. How could Christ include baptism for remission of sins when telling others how to HAVE eternal life if the NT command had not been given yet?
YOU SAID,,, “Further the command to “believe” given to the Jews was more in line with them to believe that He was the Messiah and to do what He commanded since the Jews knew what He would be like and what he would do and even command. In (Zechariah 13:1) for example it was stated that in Jerusalem there was a fountain to opened for sin and impurity and that was opened in (Acts 2:38.)”
I SAY,,, Do you notice here how you changed subjects from Christ and what Christ would do to baptism and what baptism allegedly does? Water baptism is not in view in Zech 13:1. But the blood of Jesus is “…and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him…” (Zech. 12:10). We know that it is Jesus’s blood that cleanses us from all sin (1 John 5:7, Rev. 1:5). Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Heb.9:22) and Jesus blood is shed for the remission of our sins (Matt. 26:28). Also Jesus washed us from our sins in his own blood (Rev. 1-5). That is why Christians sign the hymn “There is a fountain filled with blood”. The fountain is Jesus’s atoning blood, not water and baptism. Don’t make the common mistake among the CoC to associate words like wash or cleanse, or any word appearing to be associated with wetness, as reference to Baptism. In most instances they are not talking about water baptism at all.
Apparently the Jews overwhelmingly did not know what Jesus would do and command or they would have recognized him as the Messiah, but they rejected Him looking for a political leader instead of a spiritual savior. Nevertheless Jesus told them 11 times that they would HAVE eternal life if they believed in Him as such.
YOU SAID,,, “You mention (Romans 5:19) yet that is often taken way out of its context I think. If you look at that verse I believe that when you look at the word ‘katestathesan’ which is a verb you see that many were constituted sinners and not ‘made’ sinners who did this constituting? It was not Adam but God as it could be no one else. We also must look at the word hamartoloi and use it unqualified then we have to say it is denoting ‘actual’ sinners but it is not saying that in the text since the verb katestathesan itself qualifies the word. So when Paul says, “the many were constituted sinners.” His language is implying that they did not become sinners by their own acts. On the contrary they were merely constituted sinners this is why the choosing of the verb used was to negate the idea of their being actual sinners and it does so effectually.
Christ by His obedience of his death on the cross constituted many righteous and the same verb is used here and then to say that “all” in Adam die but “all” in Christ are made alive includes Adam. All are constituted just but that does not mean being sinless or pardoned here at all, it means just for a certain purpose and not absolutely just. I t means this that by Adam’s disobedience the all were to be subjected to death, but by the obedience of Christ all are constituted just so far as to be raised from the dead and indeed all will be.”
I SAY,,, Since Merriams defines constitute as “to make up or form something, to be the same as something : to be equivalent to something, to establish or create (an organization, a government, etc.)” I don’t see where there is a difference between make and constitute. And Strongs defines kathistēmi as “to place down (permanently), that is, (figuratively) to designate, constitute, convoy: – appoint, be, conduct, make, ordain, set”. So constitute is not the only option. And make would the best since modern English readers do not typically often use and understand the word constitute.
Also you appealed to context and then went to the Greek without delineating the context. In 1Co 15:22, in context of the resurrection it says “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” So yes, the first Adams death causes physical death and the second Adams death causes the spiritual resurrection of all men. But that is not what Romans 5:19 has in view contextually. The chapter starts off with justification by faith (v. 1) and ends saying “… might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (v.21). We are justified by his blood (v.9). We are reconciled to God and saved by the life of the Son (v.10). And we receive atonement for sin (restoration to divine favor) through Christ (v.11). So we can see the justification in view in verse 18 is justification by faith for eternal life. The death in view in verses 12, 14 and 17 is not physical death but eternal condemnation (v.18) or the second death (Rev. 20:6 and 14). The “justification of life” in verse 18 is referring to eternal life. And it’s a free gift by grace (v. 15 and 18). The main topic all the way back to Romans 3:21 is justification by faith and the righteousness of God being imputed to those who believe in Christ. As righteousness was imputed to Abraham (Romans 4:3, James 2:23, Gen. 15:6) and David (Romans 4:6) so it is imputed to those who believe without works (Romans 4.6). Universalist go to chapter 5 verses 18 and 19 to try to prove universalism but the key to understanding universalism is not being taught here is in verse 21 which says grace “MIGHT” reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. So in verse 19 being made righteous is referring to being made the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ and being justified, as in pardoned and rendered sinless and seen as fully obedient in Gods sight, by His life. A person has to have more than intellectual assent to be saved, he actually has to trust the promises of God and Christ and have personal trust that provision and payment for his sin has been made on his behalf by the Savior Jesus Christ. But not all will repent (think differently) and believe the gospel as applying to themselves and will remain unjust before God.
“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3-4)
Some other scriptures that teach the great biblical truth of the imputed righteousness of God are Romans 1:16-17, Romans 4:13, Romans 9:30, Romans 3:22 and 26, Hebrews 10:14, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Philippians 3:8-9. I know Church of Christers are not big on imputation, justification, original sin, and salvation being the gift of God, But scripture surely does teach these life transforming truths be to those who trust in Christ for the propitiation, expiation and remission of their personal sin.
YOU SAID,,, “You also ask why Paul and Silas in (Acts 16:31) did not just spell out the “Plan of salvation” and what we must “obey” and do to be saved. Why did they say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” instead of clearly laying out the steps (if steps are involved?) when asked such an important question as “what must we do to be saved?” Why would they use a figure of speech and not straight forward language concerning the matter of salvation?
Also I will direct your attention to (Hebrews 5:9) where it explicitly states that Jesus Christ is the author of eternal salvation to them that obey Him. Thus we see that in order to be saved we must indeed obey Him and I add to that His plan of salvation.”
I SAY,,, a couple of times you have said “why do we need it spelled out every time we see the plan of salvation in action”. No we do not need it spelled out every time, just once will do. There is no scripture that delineates the so called steps of your plan of salvation. There is not one passage that says we must “hear, believe, repent of sin, confess, be baptized and live a faithful life”. If these were the requirements of salvation it would be clearly spelled out in many places because God is not the author of confusion. A major problem with the idea that faith is a synecdoche for the whole plan of salvation is that without the so called plan of salvation clearly laid out then anyone can say anything is a part of the plan. Walter Scott, the originator of the CoC 5 step plan of salvation, did not include living a faithful life. And the Oneness Pentecostals claim speaking in tongues as a requirement for salvation because they see it happening in the book of Acts in relation to salvation. Being strict cessationist that would leave all CoCers unsaved. So whose plan must we adhere to? That is why we must go to the didactic books to see the 150+ verses that say we are saved by faith and the dozens of verses that say we are not saved by works. Being baptized and all your steps are works and we are not saved by works. In fact salvation is not even of ourselves. Scripture tells us at least 5 times salvation is a gift from God.
Concerning the eunuch, it is impossible that he “understood the plan exactly”. He was reading the prophet Isaiah, more specifically the passage he was reading was “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Then the eunuch asked Phillip if the prophet is speaking of himself or someone else (v.34). Then Phillip preached Jesus unto him (v.35). We must return to Isaiah 53 to get the idea of what Phillip preached to the eunuch (v. 35). In Isaiah we see that Jesus would be cut-off from the land of the living for the transgression of his people (53:8) and that he would be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and that by His stripes we would be healed from our transgressions and iniquities (v. 5). The eunuch was saved by having faith/trust that that was exactly what Jesus did by being slaughtered, he healed us of our sins – meaning he would take our penalty and make us right before God by His slaughter – and that is just what he did. But according to you neither the eunuch or Phillip were at this point saved because (1) they had not lived a faithful life yet since they were still living and (2) if repentance means turning from sin (which is doesn’t) then they still had a life time of turning from sin to do. And what is really mind-blowing about your plan of salvation is that according to it, neither yourself or anyone still living are not yet saved because we are not saved until we have lived our whole lives faithfully. Yet scripture tell us many times that we who believe are already saved, present and past tense.
In Hebrews 5:9 we must understand that if we go to 1 Peter 2:6-8 we see that not believing in Jesus is disobedience.
1Pe 2:6-8 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
So therefore the obedience we are to have here is believing in Jesus, as he commanded people to believe on Him to HAVE eternal life in so many places. That is what obedience of or to the faith is all about, having faith and trusting in Jesus for forgiveness of sin. And having faith in Christ is being obedient since even the Father commands us to believe in Him who He sent for enteral life (John 5:37-43, John 3:34-36).
YOU SAID,,, “You say too that Salvation is not about doing or “obeying” “the whole plan of salvation”. It is about believing the plan of salvation. And the focus of that plan is on Jesus Christ and his actions, not of us. Well to say that is to say that we believe in the plan but do nothing else at all and I do not believe the Bible says that at all. For instance in (John 3:36) we read this: “He that believes on the Son has eternal life; but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
I SAY,,, How is it that you cannot see that the obedience mentioned here is obedience to the command to believe on the Son for eternal life, as stated in that very verse? It is beyond me as to how you can see it as plain as day.
YOU SAID,,, “We also see that “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Gen.26:5). We can never get away from the fact that believing incorporates obedience and they go together hand in glove and we are to obey the plan that the man (Christ) gave to all men in order to be saved.
I SAY,, yes Abraham was obedient after he was justified and declared righteous by faith (Gen 5:16), before he offered up his son Isaac in Gen. 22 and before he was circumcised (Romans 4: 7-13). So we see through Abraham that we are saved by faith before obedience to anything other than being obedient to the faith and believing in Him who was sent, just as Abraham trusted God that He would provide a ram. Obedience and works comes after we are saved, not before (Ephesians 2:8-10).
YOU SAID,,,, “In Acts 2:38 we are to repent and be baptised for the remission of our sins, and here we see nothing mentioned of faith as the two perquisites are themselves synecdoches for the plan of salvation and obviously include faith within them”.
I SAY,,, Of course you already know that we who deny the assertion that we must be baptized for remission of sins do so because Acts 10:43 is very clear in that remission of sins comes to those who believe; therefore Acts 2:38 should read “because of remission of sin”. Also in Acts 2:38 the Greek word for repent metanoeō is defined as “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider” by Strongs. It does not mean to repent of sin (a phrase that is found nowhere in scripture), repent means to simply change your mind and to think differently about the gospel.
Mar 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Act 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
So as far as repent is concerned, to repent and to have faith is the same thing.
We really will need to spend some time on the subject of repentance later. God called turning from evil a work, and God himself is said to repent (change His mind) at least a half dozen times in scripture therefore repentance is not turning from sin. How many sins have you turned from? Have you turned from the all sin and became sinleslly perfect (Romans 7, 1 John 1:9-10)?
Jon 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
YOU SAID,,, “Baptism is shown in every case of conversion in the book of Acts and thus is a synecdoche for the entire plan of salvation and is a requirement of it.”
I SAY,,, This is just not true. Here are nine instances of conversion or salvation in the book of Acts without reference to baptism. So no one can rightfully claim salvation in Acts includes baptism and baptism is required for salvation.
Acts 3:1-4:4 – Peter and John where preaching at the temple (3:1) and in verse 19 the people are told “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”. And in Acts 4:4 about 5000 believed. There is no mention of baptism.
Acts 5:1-14 – After Ananias and Sapphira where struck down by the Lord, fear came upon the people (v.11) and many signs and wonders were wrought among them (v.12), as a result multitudes where added to the Lord. Act 5:14 “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women”. There is no mention of baptism.
Acts 9: 32-35 – After Peter healed a certain man with palsy “…all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord” (V. 35) There is no mention of baptism.
Acts 11:19-24 – After preaching Jesus in Antioch (v.20) a great number believed and turned to the Lord (v.21) and were added to the Lord (v. 24). There is no mention of baptism here except in verse 16 and that is referring to John’s baptism by water and the baptism with the Holy Ghost. And that happened before Barnabus arrived in Antioch.
Acts 13:6-12 – Sergius Paulus desired to hear the word of the Lord. Then by the hand of the Lord Paul blinded him for a season. Then he believed being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. There is no mention of baptism.
Acts 13:42-52 – Paul and Barnabus where preaching in the synagogue to the gentiles “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (v. 48). There is no mention of baptism.
Acts 14:1 – “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” Another multitude, this time a great one, believed and there is no mention of baptism.
Acts 17:10-12 – Paul and Silas were preaching the word in the synagogue in Berea, and “many” believed. There is no mention of baptism.
Acts 17:22-34 “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among them which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them”. There is no mention of baptism.
A worthy point to note is that Acts is classified in the history genre. It is not a didactic book meant to establish doctrine, especially salvation. But Romans, Galatians and Ephesians are and they all scantily mention baptism. Baptism is used once in Romans and once in Ephesians, Baptized is used twice in Romans and Baptize is not used in any of them. In all 3 books baptism and its derivatives only occur 4 times. Romans is essentially a treatise on salvation and focuses almost exclusively on the subject, and both Galatians and Ephesians deal a great bit with salvation and also focus on grace and faith opposed to works, as does Romans. Likewise the gospel of John was written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). But John only uses baptism and its derivatives 7 times, none refer to baptism for remission of sin. Conversely John uses believe and believeth 69 times. And these instances cannot be synecdoches standing for baptism and the “whole plan of salvation” that includes baptism for the remission of sins because that command had not been given yet. Christ was not lying when He said 11 times that those who believeth/trust in Him HAVE (present tense) eternal life.
YOU SAID,,, “Baptism is also a noun and thus there is a synecdoche applying to a noun.”
I SAY,,, Brother, I did not ask for examples of synecdoches used as nouns. I conceded that faith is used as a noun in about half of its 245 instances but the other half of those usages use faith in the verb form (such as have faith). And faiths synonym in the purely verb forms believe and believeth are used 124 and 41 times. So again I ask “can you provide me with any examples of a synecdoche of any kind being applied to and used as verbs, as you’re doing in saying a synecdoche is doing or “obeying” ie. the 6 steps (which are all verbs or doing something)”. And more specifically I ask you to go outside of the bible to show any examples of synecdoches used as verbs.
YOU SAID,,, “You also say that “faith” is a gift ‘not of ourselves’ in (Ephesians2:8 I deny that this is the case since it says we have been saved by grace ‘through’ faith and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God. But what is the gift of God in that verse? Some will say grace, some faith and some salvation, but what does the grammar require in that verse? Consider this: in the Greek the words for grace and faith are both feminine. The pronoun “it” is not in the Greek it is supplied by the translators. However, “it” is the same as “that” in the clause “”and that not of yourselves; and the word “that” is neuter. Greek grammar requires that a pronoun should agree with its antecedent in gender thus the word for neither “grace” nor “faith” can be the antecedent of “that.” This shows that neither of them can be the gift of God in this verse. Therefore the only possible antecedent is the salvation expressed by the word “saved”. Salvation here is expressed not by the noun but the verb and Greek grammar requires that a pronoun which refers to the action of a verb for its antecedent must be neuter. This is the case in (Ephesians 2:8) and the meaning is: “you are saved by grace through faith; but the salvation is not of yourselves it is the gift of God.””
I SAY,,, Upon further examination I believe you are correct here. But your showing that salvation is a gift here as opposed to faith does not help your case at all, it weakens it further. If salvation is a gift, how can we do anything to earn it? Scripture says 5 or 6 times that salvation is a free gift from God. And if salvation is a gift then faith must also be a gift even if it is not spelled out in Ephesians. Romans 12:3 and 1 Cor. 12:9 tell us God has “allotted to each a measure of faith” and Phillipians 1:29 says “To you it has been given for Christ’s sake, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake”. And of course Hebrews 12:2 tell us that Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith”. So both faith and salvation itself is a gift from God and the Lord Jesus, so that no one may boast that he has done anything to be saved.
YOU SAID,,, “Finally it is true that the Bible is a covenantal document and that Christ made His covenant with God in eternity to become the saviour of mankind. However we are under the “New Covenant, testament or will of Christ and it is the final and universal covenant as against the old national covenant God made with the Jewish nation and the covenants He made with various patriarchs. This final covenant has within it the terms we must obey in order to gain the benefits of Christ’s will.
We are to obey Christ in the synecdochal aspects of His covenant Believe, repent, confess, be baptised etc and remember this too how does faith come to us? “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Thus we are to hear and that is a synecdoche for the whole gospel plan of salvation it is to be heard and then acted upon to fulfil the terms of Christ’s will and thus gain its benefits.”
I SAY,,, The covenant made between the Father and the Son was called the “eternal covenant”. Not only was the covenant made in eternity past before creation it also never ends. It is not superseded by any other biblical covenants. Truly those who the Father has given to the Son, he will in no way lose. And the new covenant is not about doing steps for salvation but God forgiving and not remembering our sins.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
SOME FINAL POINTS: I feel a few things need to be explored in more detail. I think that you have the burden to prove that repentance really means turning from sin as you propose, instead of a change of mind or thinking as defined by the greek word metanioa. And since you’re claiming that living a faithful life is required for salvation it ought to be required of you to tell us everything that is required in “living a faithful life”.
THANKS for reading and trying to understand all this.
Final response By Dave Bell
I did say: “Further the command to “believe” given to the Jews was more in line with them to believe that He was the Messiah and to do what He commanded since the Jews knew what He would be like and what he would do and even command. In (Zechariah 13:1) for example it was stated that in Jerusalem there was a fountain to opened for sin and impurity and that was opened in (Acts 2:38.)”
I said this because Jesus came first to the “House of Israel” and He proved to them that He was indeed the Messiah. Now as He neared the end of His ministry and His impending death He told the apostles that when He went back to heaven He would send the Spirit and the Spirit would guide them into “All the truth”. (John 16:13) says: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…..” Also in (John 14:26) Jesus tells His disciples that …”The Spirit would teach” (the disciples) “all things and bring to their remembrance all that He said to them”.
Now in (Acts 1:4) Christ told them that they (the apostles) would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then in (verse 8) “But you (apostles) shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and that they would be His witnesses both in Jerusalem and Judea etc”. This happened in (Acts2) and the first ever Gospel sermon under the New Covenant was preached. Peter explained what had happened citing Joel as the prophet who predicted this very event then went on to explain Who Christ was and what thee Jews had done to Him by putting Him to death and how God overturned that unrighteous sentence. Those who “heard” that sermon “believed” it (this is implied) but not spoken, they then asked “Men and brethren what shall we do?’ (To be saved also implied) and Peter gave them the answer to their question very explicitly. That answer was “Repent AND be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ (whom you crucified) implied, “for” or “into” the remission of your sins….”
Now in this statement there are two commands “repent” and “be baptised” the purpose of obeying the two commands is then made clear it is “unto” or “for” the remission of sins. Now the Greek preposition “eis” is always prospective (looking forward), never is it retrospective (looking back) and that can only mean that forgiveness follows baptism in this verse.
Further Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27; Acts 22:16; and also Mathew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 and others are part of the remote context of Acts 2:38 and constitutes part of the total evidence of what the Spirit taught the Apostles to teach regarding salvation. Baptism is for remission (aphesis) meaning forgiveness it is from the verb (aphiemi) ‘to cause to stand away,’ to ‘release’ ones sin from the sinner. This is the “truth” the Spirit brought the apostles into and what they were to teach. To me it is significant that this was the very first sermon preached in the new regime and that was the first command given to those who asked what to do to be saved by the Spirit through the Apostle. I stand by what I said also that this was the fountain opened in Jerusalem “in that day” baptismal water has no magic in it but it is the way we contact (figuratively) the blood of Christ that atones our sin.
To remove the necessity of baptism one must resort to trying to explain (Acts 2:38) in a way that is never pictured in any Bible translation. One has to say that “Repent and be baptised for the remission of your sins” is to be read “because of” that is retrospectively and that is not true since to argue this way must mean that salvation precedes repentance since the argument is that only belief is necessary. In this view baptism looks backwards to one’s first point of salvation (hearing producing faith Romans 10:17) but eis translated to English “for” never does have a causal or retrospective meaning and that presents the problem for you
Coffman says this about Zechariah 13:1.
“The Christian dispensation continues to be the focus of the revelation in this brief chapter. This is indicated by the triple recurrence of “in that day” (Zechariah 13:1,2,4), by Peter’s indication that part of the chapter applies to Christians (Zechariah 13:9), and by Jesus’ own identification of himself with the smitten Shepherd (Zechariah 13:7). Part of Zechariah 13:5, 6 are difficult of interpretation.
“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”
“In that day …” in the times of the blessed Messiah.
“A fountain opened … for sin and for uncleanness …” This is the fountain of the blood of Christ, the only fountain in all history that ever afforded cleansing from sin and uncleanness. That fountain may also be understood as the fountain of living water (John 7:37).
“To the house of David … inhabitants of Jerusalem …” These expressions denote the “true Israel of God” in the times of the New Covenant; and, although that Israel is by no means restricted to racial Jews, or literal descendants of Abraham, neither is any one of them (or any other person) excluded:
“And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will (Whosoever will), let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
Robinson titled this chapter: “A remnant of Israel (shall be) purified, refined, and saved.” It is a gross error to suppose that the “cleansing” here is primarily a reference to the procurement of “ritual purity for the people of Jerusalem.” The text indicates that the cleansing is from sin. “This was a cleansing unknown in the pre-Christian era.” Of course, there were a number of Old Testament prophecies looking forward to the forgiveness of sins in the days of Christ. Jeremiah 31:31-35; Ezekiel 36:25; and Zechariah 3:4, 9, where Joshua the High Priest received clean linen clothes, are among such prophecies.
Of particular interest is Ezekiel 36:25 –
“And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”
Keil explained this thus:” By this water we have to understand not only grace in general, but the spiritual sprinkling-water, which is prepared through the sacrificial death of Christ, through the blood that he shed for sin, and which is sprinkled upon us for the cleansing away of sin in the gracious waters of baptism.”
As for the fantasy that “sprinkling” of any kind is visible in Zechariah 13:1, it must be declared that: although sprinkling of water and the ashes of a red heifer were a legitimate ritual under the law of Moses, there is no “sprinkling of water” connected in any way with Christianity, certainly not in Christian baptism, which is not and never was a “sprinkling,” but an immersion. There is a “sprinkling of the blood of Christ” (Hebrews 10:22), a sprinkling not of water and not of our bodies, but as the passage says, “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Thus “in that day,” when the fountain for sin is opened, hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and bodies are washed with pure water. Sprinkling water on “bodies” is nowhere mentioned as a Christian ordinance. We are a bit surprised that several commentators gave lip service to this old, discredited and worn-out argument for sprinkling as a form of baptism.
“Cleansing for sin and uncleanness …” Ah, here is the crying need of all men. What a glory of Christianity is inherent in such a promise as this! In all of the history of the universe, there is no such thing as the forgiveness of sins, until one comes to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. No forgiveness of sins was available for the angels who kept not their first estate; no forgiveness has ever been seen in the operation of God’s natural laws (gravity, etc.); nature exhibits no such thing as forgiveness; and, even under the law of Moses, there was a remembrance made of sin, “every year.” The unique glory of the Christian faith is that it embraces “the fountain opened for sin.”
“Sin and uncleanness …” “These two terms together comprise all guilt and pollution.” As Gill said, “An entire volume could be written identifying this `fountain’ as the blood of Christ
You said: Concerning the eunuch, it is impossible that he “understood the plan exactly”. He was reading the prophet Isaiah, more specifically the passage he was reading was “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Then the eunuch asked Phillip if the prophet is speaking of himself or someone else (v.34). Then Phillip preached Jesus unto him (v.35). We must return to Isaiah 53 to get the idea of what Phillip preached to the eunuch (v. 35). In Isaiah we see that Jesus would be cut-off from the land of the living for the transgression of his people (53:8) and that he would be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and that by His stripes we would be healed from our transgressions and iniquities (v. 5). The eunuch was saved by having faith/trust that that was exactly what Jesus did by being slaughtered, he healed us of our sins – meaning he would take our penalty and make us right before God by His slaughter – and that is just what he did. But according to you neither the eunuch or Phillip were at this point saved because (1) they had not lived a faithful life yet since they were still living and (2) if repentance means turning from sin (which is doesn’t) then they still had a life time of turning from sin to do. And what is really mind-blowing about your plan of salvation is that according to it, neither yourself or anyone still living are not yet saved because we are not saved until we have lived our whole lives faithfully. Yet scripture tell us many times that we who believe are already saved, present and past tense.
What you seem to not understand here is that Philip explained to the Eunuch what he needed to do that is the implication of the narrative here and when the Eunuch heard what he had to do he asked the question and was baptised for the remission of his sins since that is what the Spirit taught the Apostles to teach who in turn taught others the same things.
I Said: He that believes on the Son has eternal life; but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
I SAY, How is it that you cannot see that the obedience mentioned here is obedience to the command to believe on the Son for eternal life, as stated in that very verse? It is beyond me as to how you can see it as plain as day.
That verse has in it two propositions: “all who believe on Christ have eternal life”.
And, “All who do not obey Christ shall not be saved but have God’s wrath abiding on them”. The question is what does “belief” imply here? I say it implies obedience to all that He says, and, He says the same thing that one must be baptised in order to be saved. The Spirit cannot lead the Apostles into all the truth and then say that we obey only some of the truths can He? Christ also said “If (conditional) you love me you “will” (categorically) keep my commandments”. (John 14:15).
Your nine conversions mentioned all do imply baptism though since the very first command in Acts 2:38 establishes it as what remits sin and that is its precedent for all such conversions.
You say: A worthy point to note is that Acts is classified in the history genre. It is not a didactic book meant to establish doctrine, especially salvation. But Romans, Galatians and Ephesians are and they all scantily mention baptism. Well you miss the point since baptism IS mentioned and it only has to be mentioned once if God wants us to do it and He does that is clear.
Romans 6:3, 4; Galatians 3:26, 27
“How many people are “in Christ”? Just as many as have been baptized into Him.
Consider the following blessings in Christ:
Grace – 2 Timothy 2:1
Salvation – 2 Timothy 2:10
Forgiveness – Ephesians 1:7
Eternal life – 1 John 5:11, 12
Freedom from condemnation – Romans 8:1
Can a person be saved if he has not come “into Christ” where these blessings are found? Are people saved outside Christ? Surely we must be in Christ to be saved, but God’s word expressly states that one must be baptized into Christ.
Likewise we are baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3).
As a result the body of sin is destroyed (v6) and we are free from sin (v7). Can we be saved without contacting Jesus’ death? No. But there must be some point at which we contact that death, and that point is baptism (preceded by believing, repenting, and confessing).
To illustrate, a wedding ceremony puts a couple into the marriage relationship. Prior to the ceremony, they may take essential steps toward marriage, but they do not yet enjoy the privileges of being in marriage. Only after the ceremony are they actually in marriage.
Likewise baptism is the point at which one comes into Christ, into His death. Prior to baptism, one may take essential steps toward Christ (believing, repenting, confessing), but he is not yet in Christ and does not have the blessings in Christ; only after baptism is one “in Christ” where these blessings are available.” (From the Gospel way.)
Concerning repentance you say it is only a change of mind and not a turning away from sin I do not subscribe to that theory at all.
Πετρος δε προς αυτους μετανοησατε και βαπτισθητω εκαστος υμων εν τω ονοματι ιησου χριστου εις αφεσιν των αμαρτιων υμων και λημψεσθε την δωρεαν του αγιου πνευματος (Acts 2:38).
Notice the word μετανοησατε [metanoesate] from metanoias meaning “conduct” worthy of a heart changed and abhorring sin. That is what repentance means in (Acts 2:38.) that is what “turn again” means and be converted.
If it simply means a change of mind only then we do not do anything to show that we have indeed changed our mind and abhor what was sinful in our life.
This is true but think of the implication of what is said here we “Hear His voice that implies we do all He says to do and this includes that we hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptised to have our sins washed away or remitted. Then we live as faithfully as we can as we grow in Christ. Then we can never be snatched out of His hand but we are free to walk away if we want to but that is another study.
You say that we cannot live a faithful life well we cannot be sinlessly perfect no and I never said otherwise and it is true we are judged at death but we must live a life of repentance and confess our sins to him so we can be forgiven of those we commit either wilfully or unintentionally and we thus have the continual cleansing of His blood (I John 1:7-9). But in order to have that we must first be “in” Christ and the only way that happens is when we are baptised into Him. Read Romans 6:3-27 and relate that to our subject. Thank you for your patience and the time to explain this a little better perhaps
FINAL RESPONSE BY DAMON WHITSELL.
Hello Dave, I feel I have already covered most of what you brought up in your last response so rather than regurgitate I thought I would show your 6 step plan wrong by showing that biblical repentance is not “repenting of sin” or “turning from sin”. Neither of these phrases occur in scripture.
Also in response to my request for you to define what “living a faithful life” means you said it means to walk in the light being continually cleansed by Jesus blood through confession of sin (1 John 1:7-10). So the question remains just exactly do you mean by “repenting of sin”? If your defining it as turning from sin then it does not look like you have turned from all sin if you still need cleansing through confession. If repentance means repenting of sin and repenting of sin means turning from sin, then how much sin must one turn from to be saved, 50%, 75% or 100%???
DOES REPENTANCE MEAN TURNING FROM SIN? Let’s start with some words of Christ Himself.
Luk 13:1-5, 1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, SUPPOSE YE that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
What was Jesus saying to those present? First, because our modern dictionaries define repentance and other words according to how the words are used and not necessarily what they mean according to their historical meaning and root words, we must biblically define repentance.
Jesus used the Greek words metanoeō for repentance. Strongs defines it as “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider”. This is consistent with the root words meta (to change) and noeos (mind). Repentance here simply means to have a change of mind. What were those present to have a change of mind about? First notice that in verse 2 Jesus says “SUPPOSE YE”. He is concerned about their thinking and wants them to change their mind from thinking that they are better off than the Galileans who had their blood mingled with their sacrifices. He was saying that unless they changed their minds from thinking they were not as bad as the Galileans who they supposed suffered for being sinners above other Galileans, they too would likewise suffer and perish.
These scriptures show us in action what repentance is. The first one shows us that God says turning from evil ways is a work. So turning from sin cannot be a salvific requirement since we are not saved by works.
God has no sin to turn from or “repent” of. But we see that He had a change of mind and did not do what he had previously said he would do.
Mat 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
All 4 of these verses use the same Greek word with the same meaning of having a change of mind. We are to change our mind to believe the gospel and to go from unbelief to believing and having faith in Jesus.
Also we are to repent and have a change of mind about our works. We must consider them dead.
Heb_6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb_9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The same Greek word is used in the first verse. It means we are to have a change of mind about the salvific value of our works, we must consider them dead an ineffectual. Let’s look at a couple more passages.
Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
The same Greek word here is used to mean a change of mind. What are all men commanded to have a change of mind about? If we go back to verse 23 we see that the writer of Acts is concerned about our thinking. He does not want us to go after UNKNOWN GOD’s but to know the true and living God.
Act 2:36-38 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
And again the same Greek word is used to mean a change of mind. What were those present to have a change of mind about? They were to change their mind about the one they had crucified. They crucified him because they believed Him not, but now they were commanded to change their minds and believe in Him.
Therefore we can see that to repent does not mean to turn from sin. Biblical repentance and faith are one in the same. This does not mean however that Christians turn grace into a license to sin. Once we become born again by faith we then begin the process of sanctification and becoming more like Christ warring against the flesh and walking in the Spirit (Romans 7).