Do Christians Need to Forgive to Be Saved? Apologetics for the Masses #312

Bible Christian Society


Do Christians Need to Forgive in Order to Be Saved?  Part 2



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General Comments

Hey folks,

I'll be heading to Woodbridge, Virginia for a day of talks on November 4th, at Our Lady of Angels parish.  Then, I'll be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 15th for a talk at the Cathedral there.  I don't have information right now on times and such, but if you contact the parishes they can probably give you that information.



     Continuing to analyze the Facebook conversation that I have going with Ed Grossman on my Facebook page - John Martignoni and the Bible Christian Society.  Ed is a sola fide once saved always saved type of guy, and just cannot get his head around the fact that sin - at least according to the Bible - has consequences.  That, ultimately, is the problem with everything related to the dogma of sola fide - salvation by faith alone - sin has absolutely no consequences in sola fide, once saved always saved, theology.  All you have to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus in sola fide theology.  So, if I believe, I'm saved.  Once I'm saved, I can't be unsaved.  Which means, no amount of sin that I commit has any consequence for me.  And, if I don't believe, then I'm not saved.  Which also means that no amount of sin I commit has any consequence.  Since I don't believe, I'm already headed to Hell - it's my unbelief, not my sin, that is getting me sent to Hell.  So, either way, as a believer or unbeliever, sin has no consequence.  Does that fit with all the warnings in the Bible about avoiding sin?

     I'll start with my last response to Ed and then give his latest response, followed by my reply to him and my analysis.  For a full recap of the conversation, you can look at the last newsletter here: before reading this newsletter.



John Martignoni

Ed, with one exception, in everything you said in your response, you neither quoted nor referenced Scripture. And the one reference you did make - to the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius - didn't really fit with what Scripture actually says. Where does the Bible say about water baptism that it "is a command that those who have faith may get baptized"? Please give me book, chapter, and verse.

You state that it is an oxymoron to say that a person can be a Christian but not be saved. You provided no Scripture reference. Am I to believe you, or the Bible? And you did not respond to the Scripture verse I gave from Matthew 18 about the servant who was forgiven, and then after he failed to forgive another, he found himself not forgiven anymore and headed to prison. Which fits perfectly with the Catholic position and with chapter 6 of Matthew. I would be very interested in your explanation of that passage.

And let me ask you this: In John 15:1-6, it talks about Jesus being the vine. And it mentions that the vine has branches. Who are the branches of the vine which is Christ? Is that talking about Christians or non-Christians?

One last thing. You mentioned in a previous post Ephesians 2:8-9, and also Ephesians 2:10. In Ephesians 2:10 it mentions that God has prepared a set of works for us that we “should” walk in them. If we don’t do those works that God has prepared for us to do, are we still saved?


Ed Grossman

     In both the case of the Ethiopian and the believers at the home of Cornelius they received the Holy Spirit first. The eunuch says here is water, what hinders me from being baptized? Stephen says to him, If ye believe with all your heart ye may, belief being the prerequisite. Acts 10:47 we see the folks again receive the Holy Spirit first and then Peter says who can now forbid water baptism to these? So yes, these scriptures fit.

     Matthew 18 is a simple passage that teaches us to forgive as God forgives, without measure, the passage is about forgiveness, not salvation. You agreed that a person can be a Christian with a forgiveness problem.

     Parables typically have one main truth that it is teaching. John 15:1-6 is a parable about fruitfulness, fruit, more fruit and then much fruit. So one should not take a phrase from a parable and base a doctrine on one phrase and ignore the rest of scripture to do so. That is a way to make bad doctrine. in Ehpesians 2:10 there are works ordained for us to do. if we don't do them we can turn to Hebrews 12 and find the discipline process for the sons that God loves and chastens until they have matured into holiness.


John Martignoni

    Okay, Ed, let’s recap a few things.  In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus tells us that if we do not forgive the sins of others, the Father will not forgive our sins.  You stated that you “do not regard this to mean salvation.”  So I showed you a passage, from Matthew 18:23-35, that reinforces what Matt 6:14-15 says.  It speaks of a servant who owed a huge debt to his master, a debt so big that he could never repay it.  But, he begged the master for forgiveness and the master forgave him of his debt.  So the servant was free from debt.  He was forgiven.

    Then, this forgiven servant did not forgive another servant who owed him a debt.  Were there any consequences for this lack of forgiveness and lack of mercy towards his fellow servant?  Yes, there were.  The debt that he previously owed was reimposed and he was handed over to the jailers.

    The closing verse of this story has Jesus telling us that our Heavenly Father will do the same to every one of us if we do not forgive our brother from our heart.  

    You stated that Matt 18 is “a simple passage that teaches us to forgive as God forgives, without measure,” and that the passage “is about forgiveness, not salvation.”  

    So, in both passages - Matt 6:14-15 and Matt 18:23-35 -  you believe that they are not about salvation.  I have a couple of problems with your private interpretation on that:

    1) It does not fit with what is clearly stated in those 2 passages.  Matt 6:14-15 clearly states that if you do not forgive the sins of others, then your sins will not be forgiven.  And Matt 18:23-35 shows us that not forgiving the sins of others leads to are handed over to the jailers.  

    Question: Given your interpretation of those verses, exactly what is the punishment a person receives if they do not forgive others of their sins?  How is it they are handed over to the jailers?  

    2) Your interpretation does not fit with the rest of Scripture which very clearly shows that forgiveness has everything to do with salvation.  As I mentioned previously, Luke 1:77 tells us that John the Baptist gave God’s people “knowledge of salvation,” and that was done “in the forgiveness of their sins.”  Forgiveness of sins = salvation.  Eph 1:7 says that “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”  The forgiveness of our trespasses (sins) = redemption.  If we are not redeemed, we are not saved.  

    Questions: Did Jesus come for the forgiveness of our sins or not?  And is the forgiveness of our sins tied to our salvation or not?  Can we be saved if our sins are not forgiven?

    Next, regarding John 15:1-6, you did not answer my question: “Who are the branches of the vine?  Are they Christians or non-Christians?  It’s an easy question with an easy answer.  You mention that the passage is about fruitfulness, and you are correct.  But, it is also about those that do not produce fruit.  What happens to them?  What does it mean when it says they are cut off from the vine and thrown into the fire to be burned?    



     Okay, the strategy here is fairly straightforward - essentially repeating the questions I have already asked him that he has failed to address, or he has addressed them, but in a very inadequate - and rather confused - manner.  First of all, if you look at his responses, he is completely ignoring the fact that in Matt 18:23-35, there is a huge consequence for not forgiving someone of their debt (sins).  And in regard to Matt 6:14-15, he seems to think that God not forgiving your sins is basically no big deal.  Apparently no consequences at all if God doesn't forgive your sins - "I do not regard this to mean salvation."

     So, what I hope to do - with my citing of Eph 1:7 and Luke 1:77 - is to lead him to a point where he is saying that if God doesn't forgive your sins it is about salvation some of the time, but other times when God doesn't forgive your sins it isn't about salvation.  Which is a pretty bizarre thing to say, but that is essentially the corner he is backing himself into.  Which is why I want him to answer, directly, the question about getting into Heaven - being saved - if your sins are not forgiven.  And where in the Bible does it say that forgiveness is not related to salvation?

     Then, I bring up John 15:1-6 again.  This is a passage that is pert near impossible for a sola fide once saved always saved person to make any sense out of, given their theology.  You notice I asked a very simple question: Are the branches of the vine (which is Christ), Christian or non-Christian?  He avoided it altogether.  When someone avoids such a simple and direct question, it's because they don't really have a good answer for it.  So you ask it again, and again, and again - as long as they avoid it, you keep asking it.  And, once again, he avoids the consequences that are clearly mentioned in the passage.  In his theology, there can be no consequences for a Christian not producing good fruit.  But in John 15:1-6, there are consequences.  Unless, he wishes to say that the branches attached to the vine of Christ are not Christians, which would be a really ridiculous thing to try and claim.  We'll see what he does, but my bet is that the answers to my questions will be increasingly convoluted, if there are any answers at all. 

     Remember, when you're having a conversation like this, do not let them drag you off into the weeds or down this or that rabbit trail with their responses.  You are not obligated to answer every thing they have to say, especially when what they have to say is not addressing your questions and arguments.  Keep asking the unanswered questions.  And don't get into long drawn out explanations about this or that Catholic doctrine.  Make them defend their positions and their arguments.  Ask them, over and over: "Where does it say THAT in the Bible?" 

     And, I have found it to be a good practice to make sure your questions get separated out from the rest of your verbiage.  It focuses attention on those questions for the other guy, and it makes it easier for you to go back and find all the questions you've asked that have, or more than likely, have not been answered. 


Closing Comments

I hope all of you have a great week.  I'll be traveling on Friday, so if I don't get the next newsletter out by Thursday, then it will have to wait until the following week.  Please keep the Bible Christian Society in your prayers, and we will be keeping you in ours.



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Apologetics for the Masses