Critical Examination to the Critical Arguments of Iglesia ni Kristo Against Justification by Faith Alone (Chapter 4)


Critical Examination to the Critical Arguments of Iglesia ni Kristo Against Justification by Faith Alone

by Jaymark Molo (an excerpt of chapter 4)

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[Photo credited by Exposing the Iglesia ni Cristo Cult of Manalo]

In an attempt to make healthy responses, we will now carefully examine the arguments raised in their Pasugo against the doctrine of justification by faith. This can be shown by presenting the confusion or false distinctions of objections of INK to some of the theological hallmark of justification by faith of Paul. These confusions or false distinctions are written in the following order:

I. The soteriology of INK confuses between “through faith” and “by faith alone”.

In spite of the fact that the INK understanding of salvation does not necessarily argue that “through faith” is incorrect,[1] it nevertheless obscures it. We can see this in their Pasugo, attesting that even though they “don’t deny faith is necessary for salvation.” But they will hastily add: “neither do [they] advocate that works alone are the basis for salvation… What [they] advocate, which is vouched by the Holy Bible [as they contest], is faith coupled with works on God’s teachings makes man righteous before God.”[2]

In other words, in the soteriology of INK, one cannot receive a right standing before God by which one has the divine promise of salvation (eternal life) without engaging in works of righteousness. Thus, it is clear that they do not adhere with “faith alone concept of salvation.”[3] But this is not precisely what the Scripture says.

First, again Paul is too obvious to be misconstrued when he said that justification can be received by faith alone (1:17-18; 3:28; 4:1-5; 5:1; 10:9; 11:6). To insist in a faith plus work concept is foreign in the theology of Paul.

Second, perhaps, the very reason why INK fails to see the significance of faith in a solitary place (or being alone) is that they fail to make a clear distinction between “imparted righteousness” and “infused righteousness”. Thus, if one fails to make a clear distinction between forensic justification (declared righteous) and practical sanctification (made righteous), then the good works needed for sanctification will tend to obscure the fact that works are not needed for justification. As John Murray observes, “the purity of the gospel is bound up with the recognition of this distinction. If justification is confused with regeneration or sanctification, then the door is opened for the perversion of the gospel at its center. Justification is still the article of the standing or falling of the Church.”[4] The unexpected absence of the topic of forensic justification and its distinction with sanctification in their Pasugo seemingly supports this case.[5]

Third, the obscurity with the distinction between justification and sanctification will theologically lead to grace plus good works. By contrast Paul declares clearly that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23, emphasis added). It is “not because of any righteous deeds that we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us” (Titus 3:5). “It is not from works, so no one may boast,” says Paul (Eph. 2:9). To repeat the apostle’s words, “if by grace, it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:6). A right standing before God comes by grace through faith alone! Grace means unmerited favor. Hence, grace and works are no more compatible than is an unmerited merit! Sanctification is the actual process by which one is made righteous after being declared righteous (by justification).

Finally, the advocates of faith alone concept can respond in a much more biblical and balanced way. While we insist that while we are saved by faith alone, nevertheless, the faith that saves us is not alone.[6] Faith inevitably produces good works; that is, we are saved by faith and for works. Works are not a condition of justification but a consequence of it. As James put it, we show our faith by our works (2:18).

II. The soteriology of INK confuses between “forensic justification” in Romans and “demonstrative justification” in James (cf. 2:21-23).

Perhaps, one of the strongest arguments that INK has to offer can be found in the epistle of James. We can read a classic argument in their Pasugo: “Advocates of the faith-alone concept of salvation readily conclude that faith is enough for man to be saved—and that nothing else needs to be done. No work, they allege, is needed to attain salvation. But is this true?”[7] They answered this question by citing James 2:21-23 in NKJV: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” “Clearly then”, they asserted, “faith, though necessary for salvation, is not enough. It should be accompanied with works or actions.”[8] Is there really striking differences between what Paul says regarding Abraham’s justification in Romans 4:1–3 (justification by faith alone) and what James says regarding Abraham’s justification in James 2:21–24 (justification accompanied with works)?

First, we should be reminded that James does not use faith in the sense of true, saving faith as Paul uses it in Romans and elsewhere. Rather, James views faith as mere intellectual assent, a simple agreeing with certain facts.[9] He describes this kind of faith in 2:14 as that which does not produce (good) works and, therefore, that which cannot save (“What good is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can that faith save him?”) The question at the end of verse 14, “Can that faith save him?” is a rhetorical question, and, with the negative particle μὴ (not), the answer intended by James is no. In other words, a faith that does produce works is a true faith and is able to save and vice versa. Furthermore, this thought was developed with the kind of faith that James had—saving faith (2:18)—compared to the kind of faith that demons have—false faith (2:19). The difference between the two appears to be over the matter of trust in or personal commitment to the object of faith (saving faith), rather than simply the level of conviction concerning the truth about that object (false faith). With this in mind, the point of tension over James’s use of faith at 2:24 with his statement is not whether he is against to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, as INK would love to argue, but what is critical here is the kind of faith James had in view, namely false faith and saving faith.[10]

Second, perhaps the most common explanation for harmonizing James and Paul on justification is to distinguish their use of the term itself.[11] As we have noted in previous chapter, Paul uses justification and its cognates in Romans 3:28 and elsewhere in the sense of God’s declaring or pronouncing someone righteous.[12] While James, on the other hand, is understood to use the word-group in James 2:21 and elsewhere in the sense of someone’s proving or showing his righteousness before others. In 2:25, James validated this using Rahab as a parallel illustration to Abraham, saying that she too was “justified” by her works. In her case, her justification came in response to her helping the Israelite spies. From the historical context, it is difficult to see where God was forensically declaring Rahab just by her actions. The spies themselves, on the other hand, apparently saw in her works the demonstration of her righteousness since they informed the Israelites that she should be spared during their assault against Jericho. In additional to that, we can also see the cognate of justified is used in 5:16 as a substantive to describe one who is “righteous.”[13]The meaning of the cognate appears to be that of one who is characterized by or has demonstrated righteous conduct. John Calvin explained this apparent difficulty:

It appears certain that [James] is speaking of the manifestation, not of the imputation of righteousness, as if he said, Those who are justified by faith prove their justification by obedience and good works, not by a bare and imaginary semblance of faith. In one word, he is not discussing the mode of justification, but requiring that the justification of all believers shall be operative. And as Paul contends that men are justified without the aid of works, so James will not allow any to be regarded as Justified who are destitute of good works…. Let them twist the words of James as they may, they will never extract out of them more than two propositions: That an empty phantom of faith does not justify, and that the believer, not contended with such an imagination, manifests his justification by good works.[14]

As Douglas Moo concludes, “If Paul has in mind works that precede conversion and James works that follow conversion; it follows that ‘justification’ for which these respective works are the basis must be something different in Paul than in James.”[15]

Third, a growing number of interpreters argue that much of the tension between the two can be resolved by recognizing that James and Paul addressed different concerns. These differing concerns, in turn, required separate lines of argument and different theological expressions which, when properly understood, are seen as complementary (faith that works) rather than as contradictory (faith plus works). C. L. Mitton rightly observes,

“The kind of error Paul is seeking to correct in Romans and Galatians is very different from the error which James is resisting, and our statement of a truth varies according to the error we are opposing. If we ourselves were arguing against antinomians, who believed that moral conduct in a Christian was of little importance, our arguments would be very different from those we should use if our opponents were ‘legalists’ who believed that good conduct alone secured all the benefits of religion.”[16]

Hence, Paul combats some form of Jewish legalism in his discussion of justification in Romans and elsewhere. Against such confidence in human works, Paul emphasizes faith as the sole instrument of justification.[17]  James, on the other hand, responds in his discussion to a form of dead orthodoxy, or even antinomianism, both of which discounted works altogether. Against this kind of error, James asserts the necessity of works.[18] Thus, James and Paul “are not antagonists facing each other with crossed swords, they stand back to back, confronting different foes of the Gospel.[19] Angel Manuel Rodriguez concisely summarizes this point:

“James’ message is very practical in nature, addressing the suffering and trials of the community of believers and the potential and real oppressiveness of social stratification. His interest is in the social impact of the Christian faith. He rejects preferential treatment based on wealth or social status (chap. 2:1-7) and condemns social exploitation and abuse of the poor (chap. 5:1-6). For James, Christian faith cannot be socially disengaged while claiming at the same time to be relevant. His theological message is embedded in this concern for a religion that should be part of the very fabric of society. This means that whatever James says in chapter 2:14-26, it must be related to his major concern.[20]

Thus, in every side of the argument, may it be contextual or historical, linguistical or theological or lexical; the interpretation of INK clearly lacks support from the Scripture.

III. The soteriology of INK makes false distinction between “works which are commanded” or “works” and “works which are not commanded” or “works of the law”.

The New Testament verses against salvation by works are clearly opposed to the INK teaching that salvation can be merited. In order to counter this, INK scholars have made an artificial distinction between “works of the law” or “works which are not commanded” (which they admit are not a condition for salvation) and “works” or “works which are commanded” (which they insist are a condition of salvation). In one of articles in their Pasugo we can read this line of reasoning: [After citing Romans 3:20, 28 in KJV] they assert that “the good things that will make Christians worthy of true life or salvation are those which are commanded to them like the one mentioned by Apostle Paul in his first letter to Timothy [6:18-19].”[21]  In the first place, what is it that is good? They argue by answering that: “the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good.” (Rom. 7:12, Ibid.) What is good, therefore, is God’s law—His will as written in the Scriptures. This is the good that man needs to do in order or him to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 7:21).”[22] They did not stop here: “The deeds of the law that cannot justify a man are those contained in the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). Even good works done in accordance with the law of Moses are no longer beneficial in the Christian era [cf. Lk. 16:16].”[23] But contrary to the INK claim, Paul’s statements against “works” cannot be limited to only “works of the [Mosaic] law” or “which are not commanded” (such as circumcision listed in Acts 13:39)  but extend equally to all kinds of meritorious good works, having said that, Moo’s arguments appear convincing.[24]

First, upon discussing the difference between “works” and “works of the law” of Pauline, one should recognize that work (“ἔργων”) and works of [the] law (“ἔργων νόμου”) have been used similarly to deny the possibilities of obtaining righteousness (cf. Rom. 3:20, 28; 4). If that is the case, in Rom 4:1ff., the “works” of Abraham, in which he could not boast, clearly refer to good works (hence the potential for Abraham’s boasting, cf. Rom 3:27). At the same time, the Abraham illustration in Romans 4 is closely tied to Paul’s argument in Rom 3:20–28 where “works of law” is used—this observation clearly rejects the artificial distinction of INK writers.[25]

Second, the closest, perhaps, Paul comes to a definition of “works” is in Rom 9:10–11, where “works” refers to anything that a person does, whether “good or bad.” This argument can be established in the historical proof that God has selected his chosen people not based according to “anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls.” The sovereignty of God’s choice is reaffirmed in v. 12: not of works (“οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων”). Now, as D. J. Moo observes, if “the contrast in v 12 restates the idea of v 11, ‘works’ must here include anything men do, ‘whether good or evil.”[26] This observation again disproves the false dichotomy of INK.

Third, now granting without conceding that the “works of the law” can be limited in “the law of Moses”,[27] that does not prove anything. Because even if we grant the notion of restriction of INK that Paul uses “works of law” in 3:20–28 to refer to a specific kind of works, those done in obedience to the Mosaic Law, we can argue that they are used in order to show that even these are excluded.[28] Thus, if the artificial distinction between “works” and “works of the law” made by INK scholars can be proven false—then their additional distinction between “works which are commanded” and “works which are not commanded” much more cannot be proven scripturally, “for through the Law [whether commanded or not] comes the knowledge of sin” (3:20bc), it cannot have power to justify nor to save (3:20a), but it can reflect our needfulness to the Savior.

To sum up this argument: “usage and the context of Romans 3-4 demonstrate that “works of the law” and “works” have essentially the same functional meaning in Paul. It is evident, furthermore that when erga is used in parallel fashion to ta erga tou nomou the term has reference particularly to good actions which could conceivably be regarded as meritorious.”[29] There is no simply room for such an artificial restriction. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the INK does.

IV. The soteriology of INK confuses between “entering to Christ”, as a cause of salvation and “entering to the fold”, as a result of salvation (cf. John 10:9).

One of the foundational verses for the belief that membership to the Iglesia ni Kristo is necessary for salvation can be found in John 10:9. Upon exploring this verse, we can read Jesus saying: “I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe.” (Revised English Bible [REB]) As we have noted in the previous chapter,[30]  for the INK, if a man wanted “to attain salvation, he must come into the fold through the Lord Jesus Christ.”[31]  Thus, we can see that they equated entering to Christ and entering to the Iglesia ni Kristo as a cause of salvation.  But the writer of this paper contends that this is a misleading equation. Let us note several things on this “good-shepherd allegory”.[32]

First, while it is true that entering to Christ and entering to Church cannot be separated ecclesiologically,[33] it can be reasonably and scripturally detached soteriologically.  That is to say, while we maintain that one who enters Christ also will eventually enter to the fold (ecclesiology)—we should carefully note the difference of “entering to Christ”, as a cause of salvation to “entering to the fold”, as a result of salvation (soteriology). Unfortunately, the thought of dissimilarity in action cannot be easily seen in a very loose translation such as REB (“I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe”).[34] On the other hand, this can be seen clearly in a more literal translation, such as NKJV,[35] NASB, ESV, NIV, KJV, HCSB, ISV, etc: “I [Jesus Christ] am the door [Jesus Christ]; if anyone enters through Me [Jesus Christ], he will be saved [cause of salvation], and will go in and out [result of salvation] and find pasture [result of salvation].”[36] To equate the cause to result is to blur this biblical distinction of the two.

Second, the emphatic emphasis in Greek was placed in the role of Christ in salvific terms, not to the flock or church.[37] Jesus says the one who enters through him (“through me” is emphatic in the Greek) will be saved (John 10:9a).[38] We can note then that “there is no other entrance!” However, regarding on how to enter to Christ, “let [John] 3:16 serve as commentary: faith in Christ as the Son of God is the only entrance-door. And this faith is full, personal trust in him and in his substitutionary atonement.”[39] This is worth emphasizing, “let [John] 3:16 serve as commentary”[40] before going to Pasugo of INK. The provider and the means to be saved is through entering to Jesus Christ, not to the church.

Thirdly, the verb “going in” should not be viewed as a command to enter to the fold as “going out” obviously does not refer to going out to the fold. Instead, they should be taken together (“going in and going out”) to mean for a person who has found “security”[41] in entering to Christ. In the LXX, this expression has its meaning to “move about freely”.[42] John MacArthur elaborates:

In Jesus’ metaphor He is the door through which the sheep enter the safety of God’s fold and go out to the rich pasture of His blessing. It is through Him that lost sinners can approach the Father and appropriate the salvation He provides; Jesus alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through [Him]” (14:6; cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 1:30; 3:11; 1 Tim. 2:5). Only Jesus is the true source of the knowledge of God and salvation, and the basis for spiritual security.[43]

So according to these words, “the Gospel is of service to us in two ways: in it our souls find nourishment, while they otherwise languish with hunger and are fed only with wind; and also Christ will be a faithful protector and defense against the attacks of wolves and robbers. Thus, benefits (results) of salvation should not be viewed as condition to salvation.

Fourthly, a closer examination to John 10:9 will reveal that it was “and” (“καὶ”) was used instead of “by” or “through” (“δι’”) nor other “causal conjunctions” (i.e., “ἐξ” or “γάρ” ) to the clauses of “going in and going out” (10:9b) and “finding pasture” (10:9c). This further proves again that they do not stand in causal relationship with the first clause, “if anyone enters through Me” (10:9a), but consequential relationship.[44]

Lastly, the interpretation of INK to John 10:9 should be in harmony with the soteriology found in Romans. In relation to the said book, James Orr rightly said: “The subject of justification must be in the first place the individual and only in the second place and by consequence the society. Besides, those justified are not the cleansed and sanctified members of churches, but the ungodly (Rom 4:5).”[45] Thus, Christ is the one who leads the sheep in. Entering to Christ is the cause of salvation. The result, they become a part of the “one flock”, which probably perhaps His church. He is still the Door of salvation (John 10:9),[46] not the church. Those who trust Him enter into the Lord’s flock or fold, and they will have the wonderful privilege of going “in and out” and finding pasture. Jesus should be maintained as the mediator of the salvation, again, not the Church.

V. The soteriology of INK confuses between “Christ as the Savior of the Church” and “Christ as the Savior of the sinners” (Eph. 5:23).

Perhaps, the most favored argument of INK for the notion of salvation by membership can be concisely put down into this statement: “Since it is the church that will be saved by the Savior, one must then be in the Church to be saved.”[47] Ephesians 5:23 becomes now pivotal for this assertion.[48] This calls us again to carefully investigate this text in its proper context.

First, this verse simply informs us “who the Savior is” and not “how to become saved by the Savior”. Neither the immediate context nor the larger context support the interpretation offered by INK. To argue on the methodology of salvation here is a wishful exegesis on the INK part.

Second, even though the notion of salvation by membership does not necessarily excluded here on this text—it does not also necessarily included. Thus, their assertion would become argument from silence at its best.

Third, it is unfortunate for the side of INK to see them confusing the motif between “Christ as the Savior of the Church” and “Christ as the Savior of the sinners.” As we have pointed out earlier, the biblical writers have no intention of limiting the efficacy of salvation solely into the church when they referred Christ as its Savior. Thus, if the biblical writers wanted to convey a significant doctrine such as salvation by membership in Christ as Savior of the church motif, they could have developed this concept more in their soteriology as they did in justification by faith in Christ as the Savior of the sinner motif. Unfortunately, one could hardly find a single text to support such teaching in the Scripture.[49] Instead, we can find a sharp opposite in 1 Timothy 4:10, we read, “Because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”[50] As Walter A. Elwell points out, “It is true that the benefits of Christ’s death are referred to as belonging to the elect, his sheep, his people, but it would have to be shown that Christ died only for them. No one denies that Christ died for them. It is only denied that Christ died exclusively for them.”[51] Thus, Millard Erickson remarkably concludes that the:

statements about Jesus loving and dying for his church or his sheep need not be understood as confining his special love and salvific death strictly to them….It does not follow from a statement that Christ died for his church, or for his sheep, that he did not die for anyone else, unless, of course, the passage specifically states that it was only for them that he died….Certainly if Christ died for the whole, there is no problem in asserting that he died for a specific part of the whole. To insist that those passages which focus on his dying for his people require the understanding that he died only for them and not for any others contradicts the universal passages. We conclude that the hypothesis of universal atonement is able to account for a larger segment of the biblical witness with less distortion than is the hypothesis of limited atonement.”[52]

 VI. The soteriology of INK fails to stand by misidentifying “Church of Christ” into “Church of God” (cf. Acts 20:28).

One of the most frequently used and commonly abused text to prove that it is only the members of Church of Christ is Acts 20:28. On this we can see a common reasoning that the name of the church which Christ had purchased was the Church of Christ, we read in Lamsa’s Translation: “Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” Although INK admittedly accepts that the phrase “church of Christ” could not be found in Greek Manuscript,[53] INK seeks still to defend the legitimacy of this phrase by arguing:

(1) Theologically—Internal Evidence. Here they argue that “Jewish Christian could not have used the term God, because in their eyes God is spirit, and spirit has no flesh and blood. . . . It was Jesus of Nazareth who shed his blood on the cross for us, and not God.”[54]

(2) Lexically—External Evidence. Here they assert that “it is not just Lamsa’s translation which mentions “Church of Christ” in Acts 20:28. The English translation of the verse in Syriac manuscript such as MS Syriac 325 (12th century), MS Syriac 27 (16th century), and the Novum Testamentum Syriace (17th century) read “Church of Christ.”[55]. These two leading arguments deserve a cautious response.

First, the theological argument of INK believes not to be the best approach to solve the dilemma of this text. As we can see, for them to save the controversial phrase “Church of Christ” they tried to argue to the impossibility of God having “flesh and bones”[56] specifically, having “no blood”.[57] Nevertheless, the writer suggests that linguistical problem like this should be faced linguistically first before going to theological solutions to avoid tainted or biased interpretation,[58] because even without going to the theological exposition, one could solve this dilemma by looking at the construction of the Greek in its grammar. Upon looking at this text, we must admit though that there is no other reference in the New Testament refers to “the blood of God.” But the Greek phrase διὰ του̂ αἵματος του̂ ἰδίου (dia tou haimatos tou idiou) can also be translated “with the blood of his own,” that is “the blood of his own [son].”[59] So, the issue would not be whether God has a blood or not, but whether the phrase “Church of God” should be used instead of “Church of Christ”. As a result, if this observation is correct, Acts 20:28 would be translated into this (NET Bible): “Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.” It is the writer’s opinion that linguistical-grammatical solution serves a better methodology than theological solution for it would emphasize the relationship of Christ to God and yet maintains the phrase “Church of God”[60] without contradicting the theology of having blood in reference to God.

Second, INK’s lexical argument bears no weight to the solution of the problem. Since it is scholarly and historically established that the New Testament was written in Koine Greek,[61] to use different translations of Aramaic proves nothing at all. We must keep in mind that the intricacy at hand is not whether we can find Church of Christ in Aramaic manuscripts, but whether the phrase Church of Christ could be found in Greek manuscripts.[62] Unfortunately, the evidence is next to nothing and their argument simply does not follow.

Third, it is feeble to build a doctrine from a highly controversial text like Acts 20:28.

VII. The soteriology of INK fails to stand by treating baptism as “inward cause of salvation” and not as “outward sign of salvation” (cf. Mrk. 16:16-17).

In an attempt to debunk the widespread belief of faith alone of Paul they argue that faith is indeed necessary for salvation.”[63] However, they are quick to protest to the insufficiency of faith by asking whether faith is enough without baptism. This is where in their soteriology that baptism will play an important role in the cause of one’s salvation because “aside from listening to the gospel and having faith”[64] they will gladly introduce to you the importance of baptism embedded in the command of Jesus to his disciples: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’.” (Mark 16:16, 17, KJV) This argument deserves a careful attention.

First, the phrase “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (16:17a) is not the same as equating baptism as necessary to salvation; this can be evidently seen in the last half of the verse of Mark, where we can find the omission to the reference to baptism—“but he who does not believe will be condemned’.” (16:17b) We can press the question then, if baptism is truly necessary to salvation, why would Mark omit baptism in the presence of faith in the second part of the verse (v. 17b)? Perhaps, plainly because “condemnation comes from refusal to believe, not from a failure to be baptized.”[65]

Second, “it is tenuous to argue the point from Mark 16:16 because some of the oldest New Testament manuscripts do not contain Mark 16:9-20.”[66] Whether this is true or not, one should avoid building doctrines in a questionable foundation like Mark 16:16-17. Unfortunately, if one will look with Matthew, Luke and John; one cannot find the same teaching in the Synoptic Gospels (cf. Matt. 28:18-20).

Third, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 1:17), thus putting the “gospel” and “baptism” in opposition. Clearly, baptism is not part of the gospel. But the gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Since, then, the gospel saves us and baptism is not part of the gospel, it follows that baptism cannot be part of what saves us. Baptism, rather, is an outward sign of what saves us, namely, the regeneration of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who believe the gospel.[67]

VIII. The soteriology of INK fails to stand by missing the difference between “such as should be saved” and “those that were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

As we have seen the arguments above, Christ being the Savior of the church does not necessarily imply that one must be in the Church to be saved. However, the scholars of INK insist to prove their point “that joining the church is indispensable to man’s salvation”[68] by quoting in Acts 2:47, we read in the King James Version: “…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” One INK writer forcefully ask: “Why does God still add to the Church those who will be saved if indeed, the Church is not needed for salvation?”[69] Thus, “God’s master plan of salvation involves the Church, thus, nobody can rightfully say that the Church membership is not needed for man’s salvation. In view of this, we can be sure that preachers who claim to be God-sent, but adhere to, and even propagate the teaching that Church membership is not necessary for man’s salvation, are not in the truth.”[70] The writer simply asks: “Shall we focus on the question then?” Interestingly, the rendering of the King James Version of “should be saved” has no support in the construction of the grammar in the Greek text—τους σωζομενους [tous sōzomenous]—which is in present passive participle.[71] The causal rendering of “should be saved” in Acts 2:47 should be translated with the descriptive phrase “those who were being saved.” This phrase does not imply a gradual salvation of the individual believer but rather indicates that the miracle of salvation occurs daily.[72] Nor does it express any purpose that they should be saved, but simply the fact that they were those who would be, or who were about to be saved. The question raised earlier cannot be answered rightly because it was framed in the wrong method of salvation and faulty translation. Thus, those who are to be saved will join themselves to the church, not to be saved, but because they are already saved.


[1] In a sense that it should be accompanied with works.

[2] Tomas C. Catangay, Are you on the true path to salvation, Pasugo God’s Message 49, March 1997, 13, italics and supplication mine.

[3] Nicanor P. Tiosen, Not by faith alone, Pasugo God’s Message 51, February 9, 18, 19.

[4] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied p. 121.

[5] The writer of this paper stands to be corrected when they can show an article that distinguishes from justification with sanctification.

[6] R. C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Carol Stream, I. L.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998), 191.

[7] Nicanor P. Tiosen, Not by faith alone, Pasugo God’s Message 51, February 9, 18, 19.

[8] Ibid. 18.

[9] Donald Guthrie, New Testament  Theology (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1981), pp. 505-506; 598–599; Davids, Epistle of James, pp. 50, 132; idem, James, pp 70, 78; Rakestraw, “James 2:14–26,” pp. 36–37. Similarly, NIDNTT,  s.v. “Faith,” by C. Brown, 1:605.

[10] Cf. Hiebert, The Epistle of James, p. 177; Douglas J. Moo, James, TNTC, ed. L. Morris (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), p. 100; Homer A. Kent, Jr., Faith that Works: Studies in the Epistle of James  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), p. 89; Ronald Y. K. Fung, “‘Justification’ in the Epistle of James,” in Right with God: Justification in the Bible and the World, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), pp. 147, 278

[11] So Calvin: “to Paul, the word denotes our free imputation of righteousness before the judgment seat of God, to James, the demonstration of righteousness from its effects in the sight of men” (A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and The Epistles  of James  and Jude, trans. A. W. Morrison, ed. D.  W. Torrance and T.  F. Torrance, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972], p. 285). Many have followed his lead, for example, O. Palmer. Robertson, “Genesis 15:6: New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text,” WTJ 42 (Fall 1980): 286–287; Davids, Epistle of James, p. 51 (but note his discussion of the verb in Jas 2:24, p. 232); Fung, “Justification in James,” pp. 152–154; Buist M. Fanning, “A Theology of James,” in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, ed. R. B. Zuck (Chicago: Moody, 1994), pp. 428–429; Richardson, James, pp. 44, 142.

[12] See, chapter 2.

[13] Friberg, Timothy ; Friberg, Barbara ; Miller, Neva F.: ““δίκαιος,” Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 2000 (Baker’s Greek New Testament Library 4), S. 116; Kittel, Gerhard (Hrsg.) ; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (Hrsg.) ; Friedrich, Gerhard (Hrsg.): “δίκαιος,”Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1964-c1976, S. 2:182

[14] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, 3:17:12 (reprint, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1966), 2:115.

[15] Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1985), 46.

[16] C. L. Mitton, The Epistle of James (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966), 104.

[17] Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1985), 46.

[18] Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1985), 46.

[19] Alexander Ross, “The Epistle of James and John,” The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan.: Eerdmans, 1954), 53.

[20] Angel Manuel Rodriguez, “Faith That Works,” Adventist World, October 1, 2008, 26.

[21] Nicanor P. Tiosen, Not by faith alone, Pasugo God’s Message 51, February 9, 18, 19, emphasis not mine.

[22] Pasugo, March 1996, p. 3, emphasis mine.

[23] Ibid. 19

[24] Most of the arguments here are adapted from D. J. Moo see, “‘Law,’  ‘Works of the Law’ and Legalism  in Paul,” WTJ 45 (Spring 1983): 73–100, esp. pp. 90–100.

[25] Ibid., 94, 95.

[26] Ibid., 95, emphasis not mine.

[27] Pasugo, March 1996, p. 3.

[28] Martin Luther, writing on Romans 3:27-28, presents the traditional understanding of the phrase: “What the apostle means by works of the law are works in which the persons who do them trust as if they are justified by doing them, and thus are righteous on account of their works.” By “deeds prescribed by the law” Paul “means thereby that no one will attain the status of uprightness before God’s tribunal by performing deeds mandated by Mosaic law, or by “all that the law says’ (3:19).”[Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans, trans. and ed. Wilhelm Pauck, Library of Christian Classics 15 (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961), 119, cited on William D. Barrick, “The New Perspecive and ‘Works of the Law’ (Gal 2:16 and Rom 3:20) TMSJ 16/2 (Fall 2005), 290.

[29] D. J. Moo see, “‘Law,’  ‘Works of the Law’ and Legalism in Paul,”, 96.

[30] See chapter 4.

[31] Gary P. Barrientos, The inherent obligation of man, Pasugo God’s Message 48, October 1996, 10.

[32] “Jesus has pointed out at least four points of comparison: “(1) the shepherd is Christ; (2) the door is Christ; (3) the sheep are those for whom Jesus lays down his life; (4) the flock represents the union of all believers under one shepherd.”[32] (Elwell, Walter A. ; Beitzel, Barry J.: Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Book House, 1988, S. 312) For a thorough investigation of the OT background of John 10, especially 10:16, see Köstenberger 2002b. On sheep and shepherd imagery, see also Keener 2003: 799–802. Köstenberger, Andreas J.: John. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Academic, 2004 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament).

[33] This is where the author agrees that Christ and the Church cannot be separated as the Head and the Body cannot.

[34] Or Revised English Bible, which is the favored translation of Iglesia ni Kristo when it comes to John 10:9. Thus, one could not wonder why the INK favors this translation than the others.

[35] Like for instance, in NKJV we read 10:9: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture”; in NASB we read:  “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture”; in ESV we read: I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture”; in NIV we read: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture”; in KJV we read: I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”; in HCSB we read: I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture”; in ISV we read: “I’m the gate. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved. He’ll come in and go out and find pasture.”

[36] The comments in boldface placed within brackets are mine.

[37] Note the emphatic placement of διʼ ἐμοῦ (di’ emou, through me), which focuses on Jesus’ role as the one through whom sheep may enter the fold (Morris 1995: 452). See also, Whitacre, Rodney A.: John. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999 (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 4), S. 258.

[38] The door of the sheep. “Meaning the door for the sheep; not the door of the fold. ‘The thought is connected with the life, and not simply with the organization.’” [Vincent, Marvin Richardson: Word Studies in the New Testament. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002, S. 2:190]

[39]Hendriksen, William ; Kistemaker, Simon J.: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 1-2), S. 2:109 Emphasis and italics are mine. The substitutionary atonement of John 10 can be found in Jesus said in John 10:9–14, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. . . . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

[40] Ibid.

[41] “Will go in and out”: Jesus’ language here (a Semitism) echoes covenant terminology, especially Deuteronomic blessings for obedience (cf. Deut. 28:6; cf. Ps. 121:8)[41] [Köstenberger, Andreas J.: John. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Academic, 2004 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), S. 304]

[42]Zerwick, Max ; Grosvenor, Mary: A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. Rome : Biblical Institute Press, 1974, S. 317

[43]MacArthur, John: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary : John 1-11. Chicago : Moody Press, 2006, S. 430. See also: He shall enjoy all the privileges that true salvation offers—protection, safety, security, and peace, as well as spiritual food for his soul. [Nichol, Francis D.: The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary : The Holy Bible With Exegetical and Expository Comment. Washington, D.C. : Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978 (Commentary Reference Series), S. Jn 10:10]

[44] Although the conjunction “καὶ” can be interpreted to mean as: “(1) connecting single words and (MT 2.11d); (2) as a continuative, connecting clauses and sentences and (MT 21.23c); (3) as coordinating time with an event when (MK 15.25); (4) to introduce a result from preceding circumstances and then, and so (MT 4.19); (5) to introduce an abrupt question expressing a contrasting feeling then, in that case (2C 2.2); (6) as emphasizing an unexpected fact and yet, nevertheless, and in spite of that (MT 3.14); (7) to explain what preceded and so, that is, namely (MT 8.33b; JN 1.16); (8) κ. … κ. bothand, not onlybut also (AC 26.29).” [Friberg, Timothy ; Friberg, Barbara ; Miller, Neva F.: Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 2000 (Baker’s Greek New Testament Library 4), 211, emphasis mine] Even though there are multiple possibilities to the meaning of “καὶ”—the writer of this paper argues that “καὶ” should mean as consequential conjunction (because phrases “go in and out” and “find pasture” should be seen as results [as privilege] of entering to Christ”. However, even without being dogmatic, it would never connote as causal conjunction. See also, Vine, W.E. ; Bruce, F.F.: Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Old TappanNJ : Revell, 1981; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996, S. 2:50

[45] Orr, James, M.A., D.D.: Orr, James (Hrsg.): The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  : 1915 Edition. Albany, OR : Ages Software, 1999

[46] “Whoever goes through the door, will be saved”—Jesus is here conceived as the door to the sheepfold. Haenchen, Ernst ; Funk, Robert Walter ; Busse, Ulrich: John : A Commentary on the Gospel of John. Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1984 (Hermeneia–a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible), S. 48

[47] Ruben D. Aromin, No other way, Pasugo 54 December 2002, 7.

[48] Although, this is not only the text which was commonly used to prove this assertion, it is the writer’s opinion that Eph 5:23 can be most explicit text to support this view, therefore, this text will be the main focus of this section (see also argument no. 4 and no. 5).

[49] Except maybe with John 10:9 as INK would likely to argue (see argument no. 4 for response).

[50] NIV, emphasis mine.

[51] Walter A. Elwell, “General Redemption,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books House, 2001), 116.

[53] May 2004| Volume 56 |Number 05| ISSN 0116-1636| p. 3

[54] New Testament Commentary: From the Aramaic and the Eastern Customs, pp. 149-150) in God’s Message: May 2004| Volume 56 |Number 05| ISSN 0116-1636| p. 3

[55] May 2004| Volume 56 |Number 05| ISSN 0116-1636| p. 3

[56] May 2004| Volume 56 |Number 05| ISSN 0116-1636| p. 3

[57] Ibid.

[58] One could argue that since God was made flesh then it can

[59] Gaertner, Dennis: Acts. Joplin, Mo. : College Press, 1993 (The College Press NIV Commentary), S. Ac 20:31

[60] This lead various scholars and other considerations led the committee to regard θεοῦ as the original reading. See, Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, new ed., ii (Boston, 1881), pp. 230 f.; R. J. Knowling, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ii (London, 1900), p. 434; E. Jacquier, Les Actes des Apôtres (Paris, 1926), p. 615; K. Lake and H. J. Cadbury, The Beginnings of Christianity, iv (1933), p. 261; Charles F. De Vine, “The ‘Blood of God’ in Acts 20:28, ” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, ix (1947), pp. 381 ff.; F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles (London, 1951), p. 381; C. S. C. Williams, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (New York, 1957), p. 234; E. Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles, A Commentary, pp. 582 f.

[61] See the following works that defends the Greek Primacy, Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Madion Avenue, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). See also, Archibald Macbride Hunter, Introducing the New Testament (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Westminster Press, 1972); Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament  (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997).

[62] Jose Ventelacion, perhaps the leading scholar and debater of INK commits the same mistake when he argued on his debate presentation that because Aramaic was the language of Jesus used—Church of Christ in Aramaic should be maintained. Again, problem at hand is not whether we can find Church of Christ in Aramaic, nor whether what was the language of Jesus, but whether the phrase Church of Christ could be found in Greek manuscripts. See, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVxgBYIRkw4

[63] God’s Message: October 2008| Volume 60| Number 10| ISSN 0116- 1636| p. 04

[64] Ibid.

[65] The Moody Handbook of Theology By Paul P Enns Chicago, I.L.: Moody Publishers, 2008, 342.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Most of the arguments here are adapted from the work of Geisler, Norman L. ; MacKenzie, Ralph E.: Roman Catholics and Evangelicals : Agreements and Differences. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1995, S. 261

[68] Ruben D. Aromin, No other way, Pasugo 54 December 2002, 7.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Vincent, Marvin Richardson: Word Studies in the New Testament. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002, S. 1:458. See also, Robertson, A.T.: Word Pictures in the New Testament. OakHarbor : Logos Research Systems, 1997, S. Ac 2:47

[72] Kistemaker, Simon J. ; Hendriksen, William: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 17), S. 114.

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