Friday, August 27, 2010

The blood of Jesus + Anything else = A different Gospel

Throughout the Bible, one theme that carries on like a drum beat is this, God is gracious. Whether it is dealing with the nation of Israel, or with a pagan people group, such as the Ninevites, God is full of grace. We see this literally all the way from Genesis, through Revelation. One of the main beliefs of Christianity, is that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. In fact, the belief that we are saved alone by grace in Christ Jesus, truly sets Christianity apart from any other religion.

When looking at the major religions of the world, the common theme of salvation is typically grace, plus _______. In most every case, you can insert the word, “works”. Be it religious people who will impose rituals, or customs, strict dietary guidelines, or the enforcement of a law that was never able to be kept, all of these religions have one thing in common, and that is they deny the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

In Mormonism, this equation of, “grace plus”, is echoed throughout all of its scriptures, teachings, church publications, and prophets. In 2nd Nephi 25:23 we read, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do”.

In Alma 22:14, it states, “And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself, but the sufferings of death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth.”

Then again in Moroni 10:32, it states that, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfected in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfected in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

Now if you are a Mormon, or have spent time studying the Mormon doctrine, then these verses are probably nothing new to you. However, some of the following statements from LDS authorities may not be quote as well known.

The 12th president of Mormonism, Spencer W. Kimball writes in his book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, “And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel.” (p. 207)

In fact, Kimball had much more to say on the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. He writes, “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p 206. See also the Book of Mormon student manual Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 36.)

The Mormon apostle, Boyd K. Packer writes, “Even that grace God promised in the scriptures comes only “after all we can do”. (The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness, Ensign, November 1995 Conference Edition, p.19)

In fact, church manuals further expound on this teaching. In the church manual, “True to the Faith, 2004”, we see written that, “The phrase “after all we can do” teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fullness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with him” (p. 77)

One Mormon author in fact puts it this way, “The meaning of the grace of God given through the atonement of Christ is that man by his freedom can now merit salvation”. (Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion, p. 83)

Perhaps, one of the most honest statements made on this doctrine comes through the combined work of Joseph Fielding McConkie, (son of former Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie), and
Robert L. Millet. They write, “Indeed, it is only after a person has so performed a lifetime of works and faithfulness – only after he has come to deny himself of all ungodliness and every worldly lust – that the grace of God, that spiritual increment of power, is efficacious”. (Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon 1:295)

The teachings on this subject of grace + works, goes on and on throughout all of Mormon doctrine. Through the writing of this concept in the Book of Mormon, the Mormon apostles, the publications, and the prophets of the church beating this concept into it’s members heads, it is ironic to me that they still can call this the “gospel” message, when “gospel” means, “good news”.

Before I begin to show why this teaching is not at all biblical, I first need to clarify something. Mormon’s claim, as I have myself heard from their leaders, and its members, that Christianity teaches that by just believing in Jesus, by just giving lip service, and saying a prayer, somehow you are now saved, and you can go and live any way you want to.

They will say that Christianity means you can use God as almost a, “Get out of hell free” card. That we just get saved, and then we do nothing for anyone. In fact, we can sin all we want, since God’s grace will cover us.

To anyone who truly understands the teachings of Christ, the doctrine of salvation, and what the Bible says about grace, they know this is not true. Some of you reading this however may not know what position the Christian takes on these issues. As a Christian, I can tell you that no where in the Bible is it taught that we just say a little prayer, and then go live like “hell”. We are told quite the contrary.

The doctrine of grace is taught throughout the Bible. Probably the most well known verse, and most cited, rightly so I should add, is Ephesians 2:8-9, which states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”.

I think the reason this verse is so often cited by Christians to their Mormon friends, is because it truly says it better than anyone else can! Imagine for a minute, that the Apostle Paul, wanted to make a statement to the Ephesians, that salvation was only by grace through faith in Jesus, and not of works, how would he have said it so as not to be confusing, or misunderstood?

I contend that this verse, so beautifully written through inspiration, says perfectly what God wanted us to know! That salvation is through the grace of Christ! And that no one can claim it is by their own works, so no one can boast in themselves! The fact that salvation comes through the unmerited grace of Christ means that the only boasting that can be done, is in the perfect love of the sinless sacrifice of God’s one and only Son! And that through that perfect love, we are saved!

Since Christ died on the cross before any of us reading this was ever born, how do you suppose we could “merit” this free gift of grace? If we could somehow do works now, 2,000 years after the death and resurrection of Christ, and if we are in fact supposed to according to Mormon teaching, to merit salvation, to earn that sacrifice, I struggle to find how on earth anyone could call this “grace”.

Continuing on, if we read verse 10 of Ephesians 2, it states, “ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Again, thank you God for your divine guidance to the writer of this letter! Not only do we see that salvation comes by grace through faith alone in Christ, and not of works, but now we see that we who are the workmanship of God, were created for good works that God prepared for us BEFOREHAND! Notice, that the salvation by grace is a gift of God, salvation being by grace through faith is a gift of God, and any good work we do is also prepared beforehand by God! How beautiful! One would almost think that God loves us so much, He left NOTHING up to us to earn! That He is the author of salvation, and does not need the aid of man to accomplish His plans!

The next question would be, “does this theme continue in the Bible?” The answer is emphatically, YES! Let’s look to a few examples of this.

As I was reading through some scriptures as I wrote this blog post, I noticed something that never stuck out to me before in the reading of Romans 1:16. It states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Did you catch it? “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. Notice, it does not say it is the power through belief and works, but belief!

Continuing on, we read in Romans 2:25, “For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law, but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.” Who has transgressed the Law? Everyone of us!
In case some don’t believe me, Romans 3:10-20 states this perfectly! It says, “ As it is written, “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now, we know that whatever the Law says. It speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God, because by the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 3:28 says, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”

Romans continues to say to those who would claim we can merit salvation through works, in Romans 5:8, that “God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice, our works could never replace this love!

Romans 5:15-18 says, “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

This passage is referring to the one transgressor who brought sin, as Adam. Did you know that in those 3 verses, it says the word “gift” 5 times! Two of those times it uses the term, “free gift”.
This is absolutely unmerited on our parts!

To those who would say that all this does is give us a license to sin, that is what Romans 6:1-2 is for! It states, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

The grace of Christ is not a license to sin. In fact, this could not be any further from the truth! The grace of Christ points us inescapably to the cross of Christ! If one thinks that salvation means little, and grace is cheap, look at what the Son of God went through. Does that term not strike you? The only Son of the only God!

We look at the cross with horror, and sorrow, and yet with ultimate thanks and adoration for our Savior! That God would send His Son, who was blameless and perfect, to be literally sacrificed for all of our sins, is reason for us lifelong to “take up our cross daily” and die to sin all the more!

Could I have included countless additional scriptural support for the doctrine of salvation by grace? Absolutely! But look at all the support we have in simply one book of the Bible! We should thank God for the clarity in which He gave us this doctrine.

The title of this post is, “The blood of Jesus + Anything else = A different Gospel”. The reason this was titled as such is, we cannot add anything to the blood of Jesus. When we even think that somehow, on our own merit, in and of ourselves, we can earn this free gift, or that we must do our best and let Jesus do the rest, we are taking the blood of Jesus, and saying, “not quite good enough on its own”.

If you read that statement, and it sickened you, or caused you to shutter, GOOD! It should cause you to recoil in horror if you hold this belief. There is nothing beautiful about a God who’s own Son’s life was not good enough to purchase our salvation. In fact, if God would have left it up to us to earn our own salvation, I believe this would show us He is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

In closing, I would like to say that, grace and works do go hand in hand. The Bible never overlooks the issue of works, but shows us its place. Works come as a by-product of salvation by grace. As Christians, we are so grateful to God for His love, that we do works that God will be glorified through them. Not so that we can somehow receive glory, or boast in these works, but that through these works, men will see these and glorify God!

Works do not, and cannot save us. Works that are produced after salvation by grace has occurred serve to show that we serve a God who is mighty to save, and through His love, and through Him giving us freely the gift of His salvation, we will diligently work the works that He prepared for us beforehand, so that He might be glorified. Even the works we do should never bring glory to our own name, but to the name above all names only!

So as we live a life of service, it is out of eternal gratitude to the God who gave us His Son’s life, so that through the death of Christ, the eternal perfect Son of God, we may live eternally with Him, through accepting His free gift of salvation.

Lastly, I would ask you this question, if you are a Mormon. The Mormon doctrine, which is so much different from the Bible, makes it clear that if you forsake all of your sins, repent, live a life of good works, make God your top priority at all times, then and only then is His grace sufficient. Who of you if you are honest can claim honestly that you ever have done this, or ever will?

It didn’t happen before your mission, during your mission, or after your mission. It does not happen now as an adult who is married with kids or single. It didn’t happen after you did your temple ordinances, or community service projects. As an elderly Mormon you look back on your life, and know it never happened!
If it couldn’t happen then, it wont happen now, and wont in the future, when does His “grace” become efficacious for you?

In fact, Isaiah 64:6 says, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” Something you may not know is that the word used for “a filthy garment”, is actually translated to mean menstrual garments that a woman would use during her period. If even our best and righteous deeds are like a used menstrual garment to a perfect God, how can our works add to His plan of salvation?

I contend that it wont. It truly is not “good news” as the word gospel means, but it is truly an impossible gospel. We sin each and every day, multiple times usually, either in thought or deed. God knows our thought life, so even in our mind, we cannot hide from Him!

My belief, is that for such fallen and sinful creatures, God would not make His salvation virtually unattainable. I believe He would not leave it to us, but would accomplish this Himself, which the Bible clearly teaches.

If you are having doubts, or further questions, please contact me, or a Christian Pastor. My e-mail is jamiepellew@gmail.com and I would be honored to speak with you.

I know this was a long blog, but thank you for taking the time to read this important truth of scripture!

In His service,

Jamie Pellew

9 comments:

Jamie,

As one who often finds myself in conversations with LDS missionaries, I find your blog an interesting resource. I appreciate your passion. But I admit to having some questions:

How is it so easy to speak of Christianity as a whole and proclaim what Christians believe when we know there are a wide variety of Christian denominations (some with VASTLY different teachings than others) out there? From a Mormon perspective, why is your brand of Christianity any better than the teachings of grace/faith/works offered by Calvinists, Baptists, or Pentecostals?

Secondly, it seems to require a bit of mental gymnastics to get to your conclusion on how "works" fit into the plan of salvation. God ordained our works beforehand??? I mean how do you make sense of a perfectly clear verses like Phil 2:12 or James 2:24 then? Surely the apostle Paul doesn't contradict himself right? Then we must understand that while grace alone is the ONLY cause for our salvation... won through the blood of Christ and above and apart anything we "do"... it is through HIM and His sacrifice we are saved. And then faith is critical, I agree... but despite Paul's emphasis on faith, the New Testament never once uses the phrase "faith ALONE" except in the very verse used to denounce it (James 2:24)!!!

So the only teneble position I see on this, the only way we can make sense of Scripture without being duplicitous in our interpretting and while being honest with ourselves is to say something like this:

Salvation is by GRACE ALONE.

As fallen human beings in need of a Savior, we have to RESPOND to that gift of grace with our faith.

Faith is then manifested in obedience to the laws of God and the keeping of the Commandments and the love and charity of our neighbors. (aka: works)

Doesn't that seem reasonable?

Hi Ellie, thank you for taking the time to read over my blog.

The first question you bring up is one I have heard before. You ask why is my "brand" of Christianity better than that of another.

I don't believe I have a "brand" of Christianity. I do what millions of others do, which is read, study, research, pray, etc. The Bible, so beautifully written, leaves little doubt on the main anchors of the Christian faith.

Salvation by grace is absolutely taught through the Bible. The number of scriptures I quoted in Romans alone shows this well.

The question is not, "What makes Calvinism wrong, and Baptists right?" It is why the teaching of salvation through works is a different gospel. Grace is not the "cause" for our salvation, our salvation is caused by our sins. All have sinned, (Rom 3:23) and God sent His only Son as a sacrifice on our behalf.

Grace is not the cause, it is the free gift of our sin against a perfect God. In fact, sin is the cause, the grace of God is the effect.

While the NT may not use the phrase "faith alone", does not logically follow that it is therefore not taught. To the contrary, we see that it is taught through out all of the NT.

I am not sure how it mental gymnastics to read what the Bible teaches and come to the outcome. I never said works were not important, but they are a sign of faith, not meriting salvation.

The verses of Phi 2:12 and James 2:24 are the most often quoted from the LDS. The context of these scriptures is not at all that works earn salvation, but that true salvation is something that will produce a new life. We will die to ourselves, and live for Jesus. And our life will resemble that.

Unfortunately, you ignored many verses to reach your conclusion. Remember, scripture (The Bible) always interprets scripture. When we take 2 or 3 verses our of context, we will always get strange doctrines.

Lastly, we are not under the law! We are under the new covenant! Jesus was our perfect sacrifice, who was raised, is our eternal high priest, and lives forever.

In Him,

Jamie Pellew

Thanks Jamie,

I think there may be a semantics barrier between us on salvation and grace and faith and works. Either way, I'm more interested in this other point if you wouldn't mind entertaining me:

Regarding the brand of Christianity. It's just that you were speaking as if all Christians have the same views on how salvation is played out in our lives. And they don't. You mention how the main anchors of the Christian faith are pretty clear in the Bible. Why then, is there such division on seemingly clear "anchors"? All from various denominations of Christians. According to 1 Tim: 3:15 the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth... not the Bible. Which church is it referring to?

From a Mormon perspective there is little interest or sense in switching from a unified religion to pick blindly out of the Protestant barrel of hundreds of choices... each proclaiming to be the right one. Each calling themselves Christian. Protestant Christianity offers very little cohesion. Where is the church? Where are the apostles? Where is the unity? Christ certainly didn't want a divided household...

I agree, Grace is what saves us. But to say that Grace+"anything else" is another gospel is true only in part. All LDS will agree there is nothing we can do to get us to heaven on our own, not possible, but I submit to you that the only one that can truly say we are saved by grace alone, without anything on our part is the Calvinist. I respect the Calvinist and their point of view, I almost became one at one point. The question here is free will or agency. If you do not believe in the agency of man, that he dose not have the God given right to choose good over evil then one is justified in saying that grace alone saves us, that is to say that grace acts on us, it overcomes us and, in a sense, forces us to Christ. I do not believe this to be correct but I could understand why one would believe this. But I would submit to you if one believes in the God given gift of free will or agency, it must be grace+our response to that grace, not grace alone. Sure it is the gift of grace that saves us, but if we do not accept that gift it dose nothing for us. Jamie you like logic, is this not logical? The LDS say that our response to this grace, or the way in which we accept it, is to place our faith in the Savior followed by repentance and obedience. That's it. Many say "no you don't, you believe you have to work your way to the highest level of heaven and that you have this big checklist you have to check off to get there" this is a distorted view, we believe that doing certain things, like going to the temple are just showing obedience to the Lord and his commands, now you could argue and say that the Lord does not command us to go to the temple and stuff but I don't think you could say that you believe in free will and that grace alone, without our own action saves us. That is not left open to you. It is either grace alone as the Calvinist believes, or grace+ plus our response to that grace, we could then debate how we accept that grace, whether it be through just belief or though repentance and obedience, that is another talk for another time. But what say you?
a few seconds ago

Hi Rashago, thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

One thing I would like to start off with is this, the title of the blog post is, "The blood of Jesus + Anything else = A Different Gospel."
I want to point that out, before I go forward and lay the foundation for my response to your questions posed in this article.
I will start by addressing the question(s) you posed to me, then go back and expound on your response.

First, the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is not a doctrine that was invented through the reformation or through John Calvin, neither is the Calvanist the discoverer of this truth. The Biblical doctrine of salvation being by grace through faith, is taught throughout the entirety of scripture. So while Calvin may have helped to clarify this doctrine, he was not the author of it.

Also, I need to point out that I am myself not a Calvinist. I like many of the teachers who are Calvinists, such as R.C. Sproul, and John Macarthur. Neither am I an Armenianist. I don't think I need to classify my belief in the Holy Word of God by saying that I am either or.
However, what I do believe and is demonstrated throughout scripture is that God is absolutely sovereign, and has absolute divine providence. That is to say nothing that is done is a surprise to God, He knows the end from the beginning, knows those who will choose Him, and those who will reject Him, but still allows us to move through this life through free will. God knowing the decisions we will make in this life, is not the same as being the cause of such actions.

You asked me the following, "The question here is free will or agency. If you do not believe in the agency of man, that he dose not have the God given right to choose good over evil then one is justified in saying that grace alone saves us, that is to say that grace acts on us, it overcomes us and, in a sense, forces us to Christ. I do not believe this to be correct but I could understand why one would believe this. But I would submit to you if one believes in the God given gift of free will or agency, it must be grace+our response to that grace, not grace alone. Sure it is the gift of grace that saves us, but if we do not accept that gift it dose nothing for us. Jamie you like logic, is this not logical?"

First, I need to clarify something here. You said, "If you do not believe in the agency of man, that he dose not have the God given right to choose good over evil then one is justified in saying that grace alone saves us, that is to say that grace acts on us, it overcomes us and, in a sense, forces us to Christ."

The free agency of man, is not that we do not have the, "God given right to choose good over evil." Free will is what God has given us all. We are told to die to our flesh daily, and to take up our cross. Paul was the one who said that he does that which he hates, and does not do that which he wants to do. Obviously we have a choice to either deliberately sin and disobey God, or not to sin. God knows the choice we will make however, and did before we were ever born. The Bible is clear that man is a slave to sin, and that the problem is our nature is sinful from birth. The only way we can ever defeat evil is through placing our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.

posed in this article.
I will start by addressing the question(s) you posed to me, then go back and expound on your response.

First, the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is not a doctrine that was invented through the reformation or through John Calvin, neither is the Calvanist the discoverer of this truth. The Biblical doctrine of salvation being by grace through faith, is taught throughout the entirety of scripture. So while Calvin may have helped to clarify this doctrine, he was not the author of it.

Also, I need to point out that I am myself not a Calvinist. I like many of the teachers who are Calvinists, such as R.C. Sproul, and John Macarthur. Neither am I an Armenianist. I don't think I need to classify my belief in the Holy Word of God by saying that I am either or.
However, what I do believe and is demonstrated throughout scripture is that God is absolutely sovereign, and has absolute divine providence. That is to say nothing that is done is a surprise to God, He knows the end from the beginning, knows those who will choose Him, and those who will reject Him, but still allows us to move through this life through free will. God knowing the decisions we will make in this life, is not the same as being the cause of such actions.

You asked me the following, "The question here is free will or agency. If you do not believe in the agency of man, that he dose not have the God given right to choose good over evil then one is justified in saying that grace alone saves us, that is to say that grace acts on us, it overcomes us and, in a sense, forces us to Christ. I do not believe this to be correct but I could understand why one would believe this. But I would submit to you if one believes in the God given gift of free will or agency, it must be grace+our response to that grace, not grace alone. Sure it is the gift of grace that saves us, but if we do not accept that gift it dose nothing for us. Jamie you like logic, is this not logical?"

First, I need to clarify something here. You said, "If you do not believe in the agency of man, that he dose not have the God given right to choose good over evil then one is justified in saying that grace alone saves us, that is to say that grace acts on us, it overcomes us and, in a sense, forces us to Christ."

The free agency of man, is not that we do not have the, "God given right to choose good over evil." Free will is what God has given us all. We are told to die to our flesh daily, and to take up our cross. Paul was the one who said that he does that which he hates, and does not do that which he wants to do. Obviously we have a choice to either deliberately sin and disobey God, or not to sin. God knows the choice we will make however, and did before we were ever born. The Bible is clear that man is a slave to sin, and that the problem is our nature is sinful from birth. The only way we can ever defeat evil is through placing our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.

You then said, " that is to say that grace acts on us, it overcomes us and, in a sense, forces us to Christ. I do not believe this to be correct but I could understand why one would believe this. But I would submit to you if one believes in the God given gift of free will or agency, it must be grace+our response to that grace, not grace alone."

Rashago, I think it is possible you are confused on grace. God's grace towards us is demonstrated through the giving of His perfect and Holy Son. His Son was given without any thing we could do on our part. We could not force God to send His Son. In fact, the Bible says that God demonstrates His own love towards us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rashago, this is a gift given thousands of years ago, and according to the Bible, was the plan before the foundation of the world, as it refers to Christ as the lamb that was slain since the foundation of the world.

You are not able to call something that you work for, or can merit, grace. In fact, even our responding to that grace is not an act of ourselves, but the Bible tells us that no one comes to the father, unless the father draws Him first. So even our acknowledgment of the truth, is not an act we do.

In fact, the Bible tells us that the good deeds we do after our salvation, were prepared for us by God, so that not even our good deeds are of our own making, but us simply following the will of God.

You then said, "The LDS say that our response to this grace, or the way in which we accept it, is to place our faith in the Savior followed by repentance and obedience. That's it. Many say "no you don't, you believe you have to work your way to the highest level of heaven and that you have this big checklist you have to check off to get there" this is a distorted view, we believe that doing certain things, like going to the temple are just showing obedience to the Lord and his commands, now you could argue and say that the Lord does not command us to go to the temple and stuff but I don't think you could say that you believe in free will and that grace alone, without our own action saves us."

Rashago, there is a large laundry list of what you must do to receive exaltation in mormonism, and it is produced in mormon material. Let me know if you need it and I will post for you to see.

Lastly, you say, "hat is not left open to you. It is either grace alone as the Calvinist believes, or grace+ plus our response to that grace, we could then debate how we accept that grace, whether it be through just belief or though repentance and obedience, that is another talk for another time."

Again, this is setting up a straw man, and then attempting to defeat it. I have shown why it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and how that does not violate agency.

Jamie