I can certainly understand and even relate to the emotional element behind the belief that being a good person can get you into heaven, as Jared pointed out in his introduction, how unthinkable is it that somebody who lost family members and whose heart is so hard, will be judged for that? But that is precisely why the Bible teaches that we must be reborn and be given a new heart with new desires.
In my introduction I raised a number of arguments, all of which Jared replied to, while raising arguments of his own. Therefore in an effort to cover everything, I will be as concise as possible.
The First And Greatest Commandment
I argued in my original post that because the First And Greatest Commandment is to love God with everything that we have, it is therefore impossible for somebody to fulfill the law of God without consciously believing in him. To this Jared replied that only people who know Christ are expected to fulfill this law. But I submit that this is blatantly inconsistent with his previous statement.
When I posed the question of whose morality we are supposed to be following, Jared replied in his original post that we are aligning ourselves with God’s morality. But if God’s morality is so revealed in the Ten Commandments, indeed, even Jesus himself affirmed this as the greatest commandment, how can we shun it? It is impossible for a non-believer to align with God’s morality because the first and greatest commandment involves aligning with God’s morality, and that is precisely why Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God.
God Is Holy
I argued in my first post that the concept of meriting salvation renders God unholy because he would be forced to let the sin that we have slide. To this Jared replied with Anselm’s theory of Propitiatory satisfaction, which is essentially to say that human sin dishonors God, but the death of Christ was the ultimate act of honor, and the surplus covers even the dishonor that is brought to God by our sin.
But this type of atonement falls victim to my argument, for there is sin that God is letting slide. Let me formulate this syllogistically.
1 – The wage of all sin is death (Romans 6:23).
2 – All have sinned (Romans 3:23).
3 – Therefore, all deserve death.
So God needs not only his honor to be restored, but to exact his wrath upon the guilty sinners of the world (everybody).
Jared argued that Matthew 25 is an example of people attaining salvation by the works they do and that surely if belief were required, this passage would have mentioned it, to which I replied that we have to put all of the relevant passages together, not just one. Jared went on to rebut that the Bible is a book filled with the disciples of Jesus, so we could not expect to find a non-disciple being saved.
But my point was that Matthew 25 cannot be used as an argument for works-salvation just because belief is not mentioned. That is only one piece of the puzzle. Further I went on to argue that in Matthew 19, Jesus said that by man, salvation was impossible; a point to which I saw no response.
In Romans 2, Jared goes on to contradict his original claim that we must align with God’s perfect standard. His idea that by following our conscious, we can be saved, opens the door to moral relativism, for the pro-choice proponent is following their conscious, just as the pro-life proponent is. Paul is saying that we all know the difference between right and wrong, but not that embracing all of our moral intuitions will save us, nor is it to say that ethics are easy.
Further I do not think that verses 21-23 are a problem for Lordship Salvation; Paul was saying that even those who attempt to justify themselves by the law, whether written, or on their heart, they will fall short.
I agree that merely declaring belief in Christ does not save you. We must actually be regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit, and this will be evidenced by the fruit that follows.
I think there is a difference between seeking a natural reading and taking one line out of context and looking for a natural reading of that one line. It is important to find a plain understanding that is in context.