You may have heard of “works salvation,” but have you heard of “works damnation?” It is the belief that man has to work to be damned. It goes something like this:
God’s revelation of Himself is so clear one has to WORK to trade that truth in for lies. (Romans 1)
The gospel message is so appealing one has to WORK to grow calloused and blinded to the truth of its message. (2 Cor. 5)
The bible’s purpose is so clearly given to mankind so that they may believe and have life in His name, a person has to WORK to avoid the scripture’s purpose. (John 20:31)
People perish because they WORK to refuse the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thess. 2:10)
People fail to enter the promise land because they WORK to remain in their unbelief. (Heb. 3:19)
People become unable to see, hear, understand and repent because they WORK to reject the truth again and again growing calloused to it over years. (Acts 28:27-28)
Refusing to surrender takes more WORK than giving up. Trying to make your own way out of the pigsty instead of admitting defeat and returning home in humiliation is much more WORK. (Luke 15)
Pursuing righteousness as if it is attained by works instead of pursuing it as if it attained by faith is a lot more WORK! (Romans 9:30-32)
It takes more WORK, more blind faith, to be an atheist than a believer. <LINK>
I don’t believe in works salvation, but I most certainly believe in works damnation. No one will be in hell that didn’t work hard to get there!
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
23 thoughts on “Works Damnation vs. Works Salvation”
“God’s revelation of Himself is so clear one has to WORK to trade that truth in for lies. (Romans 1)”
Such work comes naturally to people. We read in Romans 1.
“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”
The original state of people is that of ungodliness and unrighteousness. It is ungodly and unrighteous people who hold the truth in unrighteousness (they suppress the truth).
In more detail, Paul describes these ungodly and unrighteous people.”…they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…” These ungodly and unrighteous people – these fools – suppress the truth and “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” They “…changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator,…”
Paul further describes these ungodly and unrighteous people in Roman 3.
10 …There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
The work of ungodly and unrighteous people comes easy to them – it arises from the ungodly and unrighteous desires of their hearts. Jesus said, “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” Such are the works of ungodly and unrighteous people who trade the truth in for lies.
You can make the argument that the work comes easy but the point is that there is work. They aren’t damned by accident. And they certainly aren’t born victims of God’s decree. They choose to trade truth in for lies. They work to reject God and grow calloused. That is one reason they deserve exactly what they get.
You know, Calvinists often accuse our system of having to high of a view of man. But their view of man is much higher than mine. They think men reject God because they were born hated by God and unable to do otherwise. I feel sorry for that guy. He is born a really unlucky victim of God’s decree.
In my interpretation, man is responsible because he is actually response-ABLED. He is not a victim. He is able to respond to God and has no excuse for his WORK in trading truth for lies.
“In my interpretation, man is responsible because he is actually response-ABLED. He is not a victim. He is able to respond to God and has no excuse for his WORK in trading truth for lies.”
I agree. However, Paul, in Romans 1, describes people as ungodly and unrighteous and because of this, they incur God’s wrath. Paul does not tell us how people got to be that way – whether born in that condition – but Paul does say that all people are that way. It is because of their ungodliness and unrighteousness that they trade the truth for lies. If people were not ungodly and unrighteous, we might not expect all of them to trade truth for lies. Paul describes a character of people that is common to each person.
Your conclusion is correct – “God’s revelation of Himself is so clear one has to WORK to trade that truth in for lies.” I just added that doing such is consistent with a person’s character.
Hi Ruthchin, You are correct that no one begins their search for God without God enabling him to do so, nor does any one stop suppressing the truth without God’s enablement. But thankfully God gives such gracious enablement to everyone as least for a season so that will have no excuse before Him in the Day of Judgment.
His gracious enablement is seen in His enlightenment of everyone (John 1:9), His drawing of everyone (John 12:32), and His conviction of everyone (John 16:8-9). He has bound every one over to disobedience so that He could have mercy on all (Rom. 11:32). His saving grace has appeared for the benefit of all (Titus 2:11).
Now I can guess that you may feel inclined to bring out the favorite Calvinist response that “all” does not mean inclusively all in these contexts. But such a choice of a, less normal, distributive use of “all” in these contexts, and others, takes the Bible out of the hands of the layperson, telling him that he cannot understand such important truths without an expert! I hope you will prayerfully reconsider how God has willing planned to graciously enable everyone with the opportunity to accept His salvation! Glory to His name!
brianwagner writes, “Now I can guess that you may feel inclined to bring out the favorite Calvinist response that “all” does not mean inclusively all in these contexts.”
Ephesians 3 defines the term, “all.”
“…by revelation [God] made known unto me the mystery;…That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:…Whereof I was made a minister,…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all [both Jews and Gentiles] see what is the fellowship of the mystery,”
Thus, Paul’s focus is on Jews and Gentiles (the mystery revealed to him). We see this in Romans 2-3, 1 Corinth 12:13, and the confrontation between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2. We have a basis for understanding the meaning of “all” in passages such as 1 Timothy 2 to be consistent with Ephesians 3–
4 [God] will have [both Jews and Gentiles] to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for [both Jews and Gentiles], to be testified in due time.
7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle,…a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
In opposing this conclusion, you need only provide those Scriptures that are as explicit in stating that “all” is inclusive to mean each and every individual. The only argument I have seen for this position is, “Let’s assume…”
brinwagner writes, ” But thankfully God gives such gracious enablement to everyone as least for a season so that will have no excuse before Him in the Day of Judgment.”
On that basis, each and every person so enabled should accept salvation, else we can conclude that those who reject salvation were not enabled at all or those who accept salvation were enabled more than those who reject salvation.
brianwagner writes, “But such a choice of a, less normal, distributive use of “all” in these contexts, and others, takes the Bible out of the hands of the layperson, telling him that he cannot understand such important truths without an expert!”
The conclusion is a non-sequitur.
Rhutchin, I can appreciate that you, like others, may have a hard time following my reasoning! 🙂 And I can appreciate your zeal to try to rationally respond in defense of Calvinism to points I have made. But I honestly feel you may not be giving enough prayerful thought to what has been said before you reply! Three of the verses I shared concerning God’s universal gracious enablement were from the Gospel of John and would not be associated with Paul’s use of the word “all” that you were proposing.
And I hope you will reconsider that the use of any word, like the word “all”, has to be determined first from the immediate context. To bring a less then normal meaning for a word from another context and then impose it on every other context where one wants to, so that a theological perspective can be proved, can make the Bible teach almost anything one wants it to.
But even your proof from Eph 3:9 for a distributive use of the word “all” is a poor one! Colossians is a parallel book to Ephesians, and Colossians 1:27-28 have the parallel thoughts to the ones Paul is making in Ephesians 3:8-9. There is no distributive use of the word “all”, only an inclusive use! Do you really think that when Paul said that he wanted “to present every man perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28), that he also thought that the saving gospel really was not for everyone? And in 1Tim. 2:1-6, the word “all” is used six times, from verse one on, so that the reader would naturally see an inclusive use for this word in all its instances in that passage, especially verses 4 and 6 that say clearly God wants all to be saved and has paid the ransom for everyone’s sin.
My statement about taking the Bible out of the layperson’s hands is not a non-sequitur… The Word of God is either clear enough for the layperson to understand all the sound doctrine he needs for spiritual growth when he reads it as normally as any other book, or God is the author of confusion for the things that are really important!
You are welcome to make any final comments, Rhutchin. This will be my final contribution for our discussion on this page concerning God’s gracious enablement of everyone! I am praying for you.
brianwagner writes, “Three of the verses I shared concerning God’s universal gracious enablement were from the Gospel of John and would not be associated with Paul’s use of the word “all” that you were proposing.”
Every writer of the books in the Bible is moved by the Holy Spirit to write as they do. Thus, there should be no distinction between that which Paul writes and that which John writes. Since Paul places emphasis on the “mystery” that God intended to save Gentiles/Greeks as well as Jews, we naturally read this meaning into all Paul’s letters. However, we might also expect this “mystery” to be presented earlier, as in John, and especially by Jesus.
So, John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw both Jew and Gentile/Greek unto me.” [ Note that the word, “men,” does not appear in the Greek text but is inserted by the translators.]
John 16:9, “…when [the comforter] is come, he will reprove both Jew and Gentile/Greek of sin,…” Given the context where Jesus is dealing with Jews, His expansion using the term, “world,” can be understood as including Gentiles/Greeks also.
There is nothing in the above that requires that we understand Jesus to be speaking of each and every person in these verses. Your basic position is, “Let’s assume…”
John 1:12 is different in that it includes the word, “man,” in the Greek text. It then makes a distinction between those who receive and those who do not receive stating that those who receive “…were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” It is God who makes the determination as to who receives.
These verses do not make your case. You need to build your argument from a passage like Ephesians 3 to show that each and every person is the intended meaning. As no one else has done this, I suspect you would not be able to do so either.
With respect, you seem to be missing the forrest for the trees. That old saying attempts to illustrate the mistake men often make in focusing so much on the individual that they miss the whole counsel.
You seem so focused on the micro level of parsing the verbs and dissecting the verses, which obviously has value. However, of equal value is the historical context and thus potential intentions of the authors writing those verbs in those sentences.
For instance, regarding God’s drawing all men to himself one must realize the over all historical context of John’s gospel.
In John chapter 6, as Christ is addressing a large Israelite audience, we get a peek at Christ speaking in a very provoking manner as he tells the crowd to eat his flesh and drink his blood without qualification or explanation. This is not the first time we witness Christ speaking in difficult and hard to understand language. We see in Matthew 13, for example, Jesus speaking in parables so as to prevent Israel from understanding and repenting. Why would that be necessary if indeed all people are born totally unable to willingly respond apart from the effectual calling? There is no need to blind people who are born totally blind already. There is no need to speak in parables to prevent faith if indeed the doctrine of total inability is true.
Please understand this perspective, Jesus is purposefully blinding everyone from the truth except a preselected few. To his divinely selected apostles he has entrusted the mysteries of these parables and hard sayings (Matt. 13:11). This is also what we see happening in John chapter 6. Read through it again from this perspective and see if it does not make perfect sense.
The crowd does not understand his flesh eating parable and thinks He is teaching cannibalism so they bail (wouldn’t you?). Could Jesus have stopped them and said, “Wait, let me explain, that is not what I meant?” Of course he could, but he was trying to drive them away, or as Paul teaches in Romans 11, Jesus is “cutting them off” or “giving them a spirit of stupor.” So, instead of stopping the disgruntled crowd He let’s them leave and concludes by saying, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them” (John 6:65). And then turns to the twelve and asks if they will leave him too, which clearly reveals the contrast between those “given to Him by the Father” and the rest who are being judicially blinded from the truth. See, Jesus is speaking about coming to Him right then, while he was on earth in the flesh.
Only a few preselected Israelites were given to come and learn directly from Christ while on earth. The rest were hardened to accomplish the crucifixion.
It is only after he is raised up that he sent the Spirit and the gospel to be preached into all the world to DRAW all to himself. Faith comes by hearing, but those being blinded or hardened from hearing cannot respond. That is the condition of the Jews in that day, but there is NO evidence that is the condition of all mankind from birth.
brianwagner writes, “The Word of God is either clear enough for the layperson to understand all the sound doctrine he needs for spiritual growth when he reads it as normally as any other book, or God is the author of confusion for the things that are really important!”
Then brianwagner writes, “Faith comes by hearing, but those being blinded or hardened from hearing cannot respond. That is the condition of the Jews in that day, but there is NO evidence that is the condition of all mankind from birth.”
“…from birth,” is not relevant at this point, so why introduce it?
Is it the condition of all those who reject the gospel that they cannot respond to the gospel? Is it only to God’s elect that “The Word of God is clear enough to understand all the sound doctrine he needs for spiritual growth when he reads it as normally as any other book”?
I don’t see where your argument is going? You throw out statements as above but I don’t see them going anywhere.
In the absence of a sound Scriptural argument to define the term, “all,” as you have invested it, you have begun floundering. Let’s be honest – you have created an argument that begs the question in the assumption of a definition of “all” to prove that definition of “all.” “All” means X, thus Christ draws X to Him.
Pastor Flowers writes, “We see in Matthew 13, for example, Jesus speaking in parables so as to prevent Israel from understanding and repenting. Why would that be necessary if indeed all people are born totally unable to willingly respond apart from the effectual calling? There is no need to blind people who are born totally blind already. There is no need to speak in parables to prevent faith if indeed the doctrine of total inability is true.”
I am not convinced that the purpose of parables was to prevent the Israel from understanding and repenting. Christ’s basic message was “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3; 4)
In Matthew 13, we read–
34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
The question is the meaning of the phrase, “..things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” I don’t see this including the issue of salvation. Paul identifies one mystery in Ephesians 3 – that the gentiles were included. In the end, I don’t see a conflict between Total Depravity/inability and Jesus’ use of parables.
Pastor Flowers writes, “Please understand this perspective, Jesus is purposefully blinding everyone from the truth except a preselected few. To his divinely selected apostles he has entrusted the mysteries of these parables and hard sayings (Matt. 13:11). This is also what we see happening in John chapter 6. ”
John 6 seems clearly related to salvation. we read–
29 This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he has sent.”
32 …my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.
37 All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.
39 this is the Father’s will who has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to me.
47 He that believes on me hath everlasting life.
A key phrase here is, “I will raise him up at the last day,” a clear reference to the security of our salvation.
After all this, Jesus speaks of His flesh and blood. While the true meaning of this may have been hidden from the Jews, His earlier statements were explicit and understandable as they relate to salvation.
Well, I agree that salvation is in view. The salvation of all who believe through the means God’s means…the gospel appeal… the means being granted to a select few Israelites at that time in history and hidden in parables from the rest.
It is not until Paul is called and Peter has his white sheet dream that the gospel is then sent to the Gentiles as well. The means God has chosen to draw men to himself is the gospel… faith comes by hearing. The gospel is the power of God unto Salvation…first to the Jew and then the Gentile.
Pastor Flowers writes, ” The means God has chosen to draw men to himself is the gospel…”
All seem to agree on that whether Calvinist or not. The conundrum is why only some respond to the gospel and some do not. We understand from Ephesians 3, Revelation 17 (Book of Life), and the extent of God’s omniscience (encompassing foreknowledge of all future events) that God knew the identities of His elect when He created the universe. So, from Genesis 1 onward, the preaching of the gospel was known, and intended, to draw only God’s elect to Christ. Why is that? All we know is that this is the way God chose to do it. God could have saved all or none but chose to save some.
How God is bringing about the salvation of His elect is debated between Calvinists and non-Calvinists but all agree that only God’s elect will be saved and God knows exactly who they are and has always known who they are.
Rev 17:8 ‘‘… And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world….” [NKJV]
This passage does NOT teach that names of individuals were written in the Book of Life before creation. It hardly even infers it. [The ESV wrongly translates ἀπό, as “before” in a parallel passage, Rev. 13:8. This Greek preposition never means “before”]. The passage says these who worship the beast never had their names added to the Book of Life “from” the start of creation until that moment related in this verse. If any inference is to be made, the normal one would be that names have been added to the Book of Life, since creation’s beginning, each time God saves one who trusts in His mercy.
A thorough study of the books in heaven mentioned in Scripture indicates that the term “Book of Life” is used for two different books, one of physical life (the book of the living) and one of spiritual life (the book of the righteous). Both of these books are pointed to in Psalm 69:28 – [ESV] ”Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.” The people in Rev 17:8 were in the Book of the Living, but they had never be “enrolled” in the Book of Life of the Lamb Slain (13:8).
More experience with lust of eyes, flesh, and pride of life, the thicker the skin around the heart.
A viral infection likened to a wart surrounding the organ that sustains life.
Anchor L1 – springback
I believe God elects EVERYONE and that there are literal books in heaven recording our names and the literal destinies that God has purposed for us based on gifting and callings. But we can thwart that through unbelief, sin, hardness of heart, and rejection of Christ. God can thus erase or blot out our names. We decide whether to remain in the book. God votes “yes” for all of us.
Scripture supports this in multiple places:
See Ex 32:32-33, Ps 69:28, Rev 3:5