Hear and obey

Here is yet another occasion where the Lord’s discussion of our salvation omits any mention of the Protestant’s sola fide view:

If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me. (John 12:47-50, RSV2CE)

I am not exactly sure how one could read sola fide into this passage, since it deals expressly with obedience to Christ’s commandments (and consequently the Father’s). Jesus expects us to keep His commands if we are His people. We see the same themes in another passage in St. John’s gospel:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. … He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:15, 21, 24, RSV2CE; emphasis added).

I am almost certainly repeating myself, but how credible is it to say that one who does not love God will be saved? But if we do not obey Him, then we do not love Him. There is no way around it: our love for our Savior is demonstrated by what we do. There is more at work here than mere sola fide.

It is also worth observing that once again we see the Reformed idea of “total depravity” is left in ruins by the words of our Lord: if there is literally no one who does good at all, then there can be no one who loves Jesus, and there is obviously a population of zero in heaven (outside of God Himself and His holy angels). Obedience is not a dirty word, and it is not irrational to suppose that God would give us commands the observance of which show our love for Him.

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Posted in Apologetics, Calvinism, Obedience, Protestantism, Sola Fide
2 comments on “Hear and obey
  1. bobby2453 says:

    I don’t see that this makes your argument at all.
    In fact, Jesus only commanded two things as far as I know.
    Love your neighbor.
    Love God.
    Both impossible without faith.
    Grace and faith are inexoribly bound together as one thing.
    It is a mystery that I do not understand as are many things.
    We have a free will yet God knows our hearts and directs all our ways. Hard to grasp but clearly true.
    Any doctrine that diminishes the ultimate roll of faith alone through grace alone diminishes God and I reject it out of hand.

  2. aquinasetc says:

    Hello,

    You wrote:

    Any doctrine that diminishes the ultimate roll of faith alone through grace alone diminishes God and I reject it out of hand.

    Then I am afraid I do not understand why you read my blog :–) I am also curious how it is that you are so certain that you are right and that 1500 years of Christendom prior to Luther got it wrong. If at any time the Church that Christ founded stumbled into dogmatic error, there is literally no reason why the Reformers or their heirs can possibly be trusted, either.

    How exactly does human assent considered as a free act enabled by the grace of God—which is the Catholic view—diminish God? In what way(s) does this reduce His power at all?

    With respect to the rest of your comment, here are my responses though it seems they will not matter to you, unfortunately.

    I don’t see that this makes your argument at all.

    It is entirely possible that I am mistaken. I make no pretenses as to my reliability. :-)

    In fact, Jesus only commanded two things as far as I know.
    Love your neighbor.
    Love God.

    Actually, I am pretty sure He said that those two commands sum up the law. This is confirmed by Matthew 5:17–19, for example. Furthermore, Jesus is God, so whatever was commanded in the OT is no less commanded by Him. Clearly there were changes with respect to the ceremonial law following the Resurrection, but this does not obviate the necessity of keeping the Ten Commandments.

    Both impossible without faith.

    So no non-Christian has ever loved his neighbor? I can speak from personal experience that this is not the case. I will of course concede your second point, though (as a future post of mine will hopefully make clearer…please stand by…) I think there are some semantic differences.

    Grace and faith are inexoribly bound together as one thing.

    Please show me where this is written, because to say that they are one thing is a novel idea in my experience and I do not know what it could be based on. Thanks.

    Peace,

    Fred

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