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Please help me help my friend. Nobody is guaranteed a place in Heaven, correct?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Matthias, Aug 13, 2004.

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  1. Matthias

    Matthias Guest

    Hi! :wave:

    Can you all please help me? I am talking to a non-denominational friend of mine, who believes all believers of Jesus Christ are automatically assured and guaranteed a place in Heaven. She throws all of these Bible verses at me, and I'm no expert on how to tell her that I think/know she is wrong...

    Of course, I don't believe what she is saying to be correct, even slightly. Don't we have to CONSTANTLY work and repent to even be considered in with a chance of getting into Heaven? That's what I was taught as a Roman Catholic and I know Orthodoxy teaches the same, or at least similar.

    I just think it is totally wrong for Christians out there to think that because they are a believer they are automatically guaranteed they will be in Heaven upon death. It really upsets me to know that people out there think they know God and automatically assume they are going to Heaven...

    What can I say to her without upsetting her? I don't want her to assume she is going straight to Heaven just because she claims to be a Christian. I feel that not saying anything to her will strongly influence the way she lives the rest of her life. You can NEVER assume ANYTHING; that's what I believe...

    Thank you for any advice or assistance; or even corrections if what I am saying is not quite right; or even totally wrong! :eek:
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Dear Matthias:

    That's Luther's Sola Fide heresy which was condemned by the Council of Trent.

    The Orthodox Church has never preached Sola Fide.

    Go to the Epistle of James. Faith without works is dead.

    Hope this helps.

    Lovingly in Christ our God,
  3. Matthias

    Matthias Guest

    Thanks Aria. :)
  4. Havren

    Havren New Member

    Some people have a much stronger faith than others.. the question is then; Is the Kingdom of God only for the choosen one? This is a thought that makes me sick..
  5. Matthias

    Matthias Guest

    I don't have the knowledge to answer that, but it raises an interesting question.
  6. readerpaul

    readerpaul reader paul

    Eastern Orthodox
    Another way to look at the problem is to start by getting your friend to define what is meant by "faith." If faith is defined simply as some sort of intellectual assent, or as a certain moment when one accepts Christ, then the Church would say that we are not saved by this---because these descriptions are not, from the Orthodox perspective, definitions of "faith."

    What's especially interesting about this to me is that while St. Paul certainly says the "the just shall live by faith," (Romans 1: 17), Our Lord speaks more about actions as a means to salvation. When Christ describes the Last Judgment, he says nothing about faith, but emphasizes how we treat our neighbor (Matt. 25: 31-46). Earlier Jesus again specifically says that "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father." (Matt. 7: 22)

    For the Orthodox, salvation is more about synergy. If we truly have faith in Christ then we ought to strive to do what He has asked of us. Thus for us faith is a process, called theosis or deification. Many of the Fathers of the Church have written about it. Our task, with God's help, is to try to become more like God, in the sense of being merciful, just, pure, holy, etc. True, we believe that this synergy is 99.99999% God's work---but we still must make the effort. Thus our saints can sometimes do miraculous things precisely because they have so united themselves with God that His Energies sort of shine through. So when Our Lord says that the "kingdom of God is within you," (Luke 17: 21) His Words describe what the spiritual life really is---an attempt to seek and nurture a personal relationship with God so intense that over time, we become more like God. To be clear: only God can save us, but because we have free will we believe that He will not save those who do not want and practice "salvation." To put it another way: salvation isn't about harps and streets of gold, it's about being united to Christ forever. Why would one want to spend eternity with Someone that one had no time for or interest in here on earth?

    It's difficult to see how a mere intellectual assent, or even a moment of belief, that doesn't result in some kind of (continual) attempt to change one's life and conform to Christ's commands, qualifies as "faith."

    Hope I haven't muddied the waters too much.

    Pray for me,
  7. Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta

    Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta Pie-baking apron-clad hausfrau :D

    Eastern Orthodox
    Well, I'm not 100% sure of what you're talking about, but if you are referring to Calvin's pre-destination idea (only the "chosen" are saved), Orthodoxy does not support this. Calvin's idea about who gets to heaven and why, along with the Arminian ideas, are two sets of theories created by two men who chose to ignore that those questions were already answered by the Original Church about 1000 years before their time. As far as Luther's ideas, which I know little about, this again is an example of one man trying to create an ideology that would fit with his opinion, rather than what the Early Church has already decided upon.

    Matthias, I'm not sure if this will help, but I figure that your friend is probably Sola Scriptura. You may want to ask her to explain Phil.2:12:

    "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worked in you to will and act according to His good purpose."

    What this says to me is:
    1. Obedience and works are a necessary part of our slavation.
    2. We must continue in this process (continue to work out....).
    3. Salvation is an act of God, not of man. We can't bring about our salvation just by saying a sinner's prayer. A life of repentance is required for our ultimate salvation.

    I look at it like this, and someone feel free to correct me if this is not Orthodox: Christ provided the means for our salvation by defeating death and becoming a Bridge for us to cross in order for us to be restored in our relationship with God. Crossing this Bridge is not something that takes one or two steps, it is a lifetime process to get closer to God (called theosis).

    It would help to know how your friend defines salvation. She may think salvation is simply a guarantee of getting to heaven. Orthodox see salvation as being restored to our original relationship with God (before Adam and Eve sinned), and yes, heaven will be a part of that. But you can see how this restoration would be a lifetime journey, not x+y=heaven.

    ***What I mean by salvation is an act of God and not man is that we cannot predict who is ultimately saved, even concerning ourselves. Only God decides this.***

    I hope this helps you.:)
  8. jkotinek

    jkotinek Orthodox Aggie

    Eastern Orthodox
    +Christ is in our midst+


    I think it goes a little bit further than sole fide if she believes that everyone goes to heaven, that would be universalism. IIRC, there was at least one heresiarch (Pelagius perhaps?) that taught that the end result of God's love and salvific work would be the eventual salvation of everything and everybody. I haven't been able to locate any resources specific to that teaching, but the following pieces on universalism should be helpful.

  9. QuagDabPeg

    QuagDabPeg Well-Known Member

    I can't remember the verse offhand but (in Corinthians I think) Pauls says he works out his salvation "with fear and trembling" - why would he have "fear and trembling" if he, clearly a devout Christian was guarentee Salvation?
  10. Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta

    Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta Pie-baking apron-clad hausfrau :D

    Eastern Orthodox
    Not bad for a "wonky display."^_^
  11. ufonium2

    ufonium2 Seriously, stop killing kids.

    Eastern Orthodox
    Wow, it didn't occur to me until just then that we actually have a word for an arch heretic!
  12. Havren

    Havren New Member

    to Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta:

    But somebody is by God given a stronger faith... and some needs more proof than others..

    Joh 20:24
    But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
    Joh 20:25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

    Here is an example of a disciple that is weaker in the faith than the others.. Thomas needed a proof from Jesus.. People are different, some have more faith than others..

    Is it then easier for the persons that God has given more faith to enter the kingdom of God? I dont know!.. but I became very glad when reading an article written by an orthodox priests,, that in the end, even Satan would bow for the Almighty God.. It would make me so happy if all people would become saved in the end..

    Please dont be angry with me,, I'm only making questions.. Nothing can take away my belief in Jesus Christ, Our Saviour!
  13. Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta

    Grand_Duchess-Elizaveta Pie-baking apron-clad hausfrau :D

    Eastern Orthodox
    I'm not angry!:) Your comments are welcome here, Havren, and I didn't mean to leave the impression that what you said angered or offended me. As for the question about different levels of faith......I don't know the answer to that, either! Anyone else know?
  14. Mary of Bethany

    Mary of Bethany Only one thing is needful. Supporter

    Eastern Orthodox
    I could be *completely* wrong here, and I know others will correct me, if it's needed. But I believe that Christ meets us where we are. He knows our struggles towards faith, and that some must struggle much harder & longer in order just to get to the same place as someone else. And afterall, *NONE* of us are ever "worthy" on our own. We all depend on Christ's mercy. That is the only way any of us can ever get to Heaven.
  15. Thunderchild

    Thunderchild Sheep in Wolf's clothing

    The only way to deal with the concept of OSAS effectively is to take each "proof" offered and deal with it: however tedious, it is necessary.

    If you provide the passages your friend is using, I will provide the counters - most often the very passages cited in support contain the evidence that the concept is incorrect.

    Then too, your friend may be relying on a deficient translation.

    For example: Romans 8:1 "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" translates ouden ara nun katakrima tois en Cristo Ihsou but it does not translate the balance of that verse mh kata sarka peripatousin alla kata pneuma ,they walking (colloquial, living) not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

    Unfortunately, a number of Bible versions do not include all of that verse. (and at least one is rude enough to state that the second half is a "later addition") However, all three of the of the Koiné Greek (Textus Receptus, Nestlé Eyland, Majority Text) translation sources make no such claim - the verse is intact.
  16. Akathist

    Akathist Theology Team Supporter

    Eastern Orthodox
    I definately agree with the last post.

    What I don't agree with is the idea that all people will be saved. Now, I am not saying that I believe that only those of a certain denomination will be saved. There might be someone in some tiny island that has never heard the Gospel that is able to be saved. Because of what St. Paul said about following the law that is imprinted on his heart. There are people who understand that God exists and loved Him even thought they do not know or understand the Gospel. (Take for example, infants that die, or severely mentally handicapped individuals, both examples I believe are likely to be saved, but of course, only God knows their hearts.)

    However, there are many who while they do believe in God (even if they don't talk about it, they show their belief in how they reject the faith... for why bother rejecting it and acting against it if it has no validity?) are not going to be saved (IMHO) due to their rejection of holiness and their rejection of the Trinity. (The unpardonable sin is blashmening the Holy Spirit.)

    However, it is not up to mere humans to decide who will or will not be saved. It is not up to use to question why some people who committed evil all their lives has as much a chance of salvation when they finally do turn their hearts back to Jesus as someone who has been faithful and prudent and pure their whole lives. ("The first will be last and the last will be first in the Kingdom of God.")

    "Salvation is a mystery." That is what I have learned is the primary teaching of the Orthodox Church. Yet I also understand that we do not believe that all will enter paradise.
  17. Matthias

    Matthias Guest

    Thank you SOOO much to everyone who responded. I am trying to arrange a meeting time to discuss this with her, and will be sure to mention everyone that has been said. :)
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