The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Faith is active and visible, not something that occures "in your heart".

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 513 times Debate No: 99258
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
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Many people quote Eph 2:8 to say that we are saved when we believe, and no action is required on our part.

I find this contradictory to other Scripture.

I would challenge my opponent to prove that Scripture indicates no action is required on our part to fulfill the faith portion of the passage referenced above.

I, on the other hand, will prove that Scripture is very clear that there are certain actions commanded of us before we are united with the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ.

Con may begin debate arguments in round 1 along with acceptance of the debate.


Let me begin by thanking my opponent for offering a great topic for debate. Before we start, I will admit that I will be using several translations of the Bible, but chiefly, The New King James Version.

I will start by defining faith, and stating Ephesians 2:8-9, as they are pivotal to the debate. I will then speak to salvation and the role of works in the process. Afterwards, I will explain how our faith is not what is visible but God's works accomplished through us.

Hebrews 11: 1 KJV defines faith, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV, "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

My opponent has stated "that there are certain actions required of us before we are united with the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ." I agree with my opponent that "scripture is very clear" on what is needed in order to be saved, or in his words, "united with the Blood of Christ." However, it would hardly be a debate if we had the same conclusion. Concerning Salvation the Bible says thus:

"but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." Romans 4:24 NIV

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:16-18 NKJV

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36 NKJV

Believing, or having faith, is not an action in the way that witnessing and ministering are. Indeed there is an action involved, but it is not generated by the believer, "it is the gift of God". So, in other words the action is not "required on our part." God is the active agent. None of the verses above imply additional visible action after or before believing.

Galatians 2:20-21 " I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

Consider, please, Hebrews 11: 4-12

"By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; [a] for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child[b] when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude"innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore." Hebrews 11: 4-12 NKJV

"And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Hebrews 11: 32-34 NKJV

What is my point? "By faith" they were able to do these things. It was not the Israelite's faith that brought down the walls of Jericho, no, it was God acting because of their faith. Because of Enoch's faith God took him away and he did not see death. Because of Abraham's faith God gave him the Promised Land. Because of Sarah's faith God gave her the ability to conceive a child. Because of Noah's faith God saved his family. It is not our faith that is active and visible but God working miracles, however slight or grand, because of our faith. Grace, salvation, mercy, and faith are things given by God to the believer. God is the active agent.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 KJV
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my worthy opponent for accepting this debate. I look forward to an engaging, open, and honest attempt to come to the truth of God's Word. I will be quoting from the NKJV, unless otherwise noted.

I would agree with the definition of faith given by Con. Further, I would present that substance and evidence are things that can be seen, or felt, or handled, or shown to others. These are things that could be presented to a jury to prove a case. Substance and evidence (faith) are not simply felt in the heart where no one else can see them. This is born out by Con's quotes from Heb 11:4-12. Everyone referenced in this passage is praised for not just believing, but for what they did in response to that belief. And Hebrews 11 is also referenced in James 2. When we put Hebrews 11 together with James 2:14-26, we see a much clearer picture of what faith is. Faith is more than belief. For it to be alive (and therefore effective for anything) it must include action. And as we see in James 2:24, it is for our works that we are justified, not by our belief only. Justified is defined on as, "Theology. to declare innocent or guiltless; absolve; acquit." (1) Thus, according to James 2:24, it is our works which make us guiltless before God (through the working of the Blood of Christ obviously).

Faith is not the same as belief. For faith to be alive and effective, it must include works. Works are an integral part of faith, for without them, it is dead. (James 2:26) In verse 25, James says, "Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?" Likewise to what? Likewise to the last example he gave, which is in verse 23 where he says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now which his it? Was it his belief that justified him, or by her works that she was justified? Both! If Abraham had sat home and believed God's promise but done nothing in response to His commands, he would not have made it into the "Faith Hall of Fame" - Heb 11. If Rahab had believed, but refused to act in the defense of the spies, she and all her household would have died in the fall of Jericho.

So faith cannot be alive and effective without works, but you can have works that are not done in faith. This is evidenced by the story Jesus told of the sheep and the goats in Matt 7:21-23. Here Jesus says that "Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'" Obviously these people did works, but Jesus says He will tell them "I never knew you". He won't tell them "I don't know you anymore." He "never" knew them, even though they thought they knew Him, and did great works in His name. So then, not just any work is a saving work.

Given that not all works are saving, yet faith without works is dead (and therefore cannot save us), but we are justified by works and not faith alone, how do we read Eph 2:8 which says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Obviously, as we are told in many places in Scripture, it is the power of God that saves us. This power is given to us as a gift that we cannot earn and do not deserve. But Eph 2:8 tells us that it is through faith (which as I have proven includes and demands works) that this grace is given to us. Why is this phrase necessary? Because we know that Jesus lived and died and was raised to offer salvation to the entire world. Grace is there available to everyone, but as I showed through Matt 7:21-23, not everyone will be saved. So what is the dividing point between those who are saved and those who are not? Eph 2:8 tells us that it is faith that separates those who are saved and those who are not.

So, this begs the question, "If works are required for our faith to be alive, and a living faith is "saving faith" (this is a given as a dead faith is no faith at all (James 2)), what works are the "saving works" and what works are not? Let us look to Scripture for the answer.

In many of Paul's writings, he tells us that works of the Law (of Moses) will not save us. For instance Romans 2:15, Romans 3:20, Romans 3:27, Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:2, Galatians 3:5, and Galatians 3:10 all specifically mention "works of the Law". In Romans 4:2, Romans 4:6, Romans 9:11, Romans 9:32, and Romans 11:6, Paul only mentions works but given the context, he is referring to works of the Law. To zero in on one of these verses, in Romans 3:28 Paul tells us that we are, "...justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." This in no way takes away from James' assertion that faith is only alive when it includes works, because Paul qualifies the works he is talking about that don't save us: "works of the Law".

So if works of the Law will not save us, what works are required to make faith alive? When we read through all of New Testament Scripture, we find several places where we are told that certain things either save us, or lead to our salvation. This not being the focus of this debate, I will list just a few of them here. Romans 10:10 tells us that, "with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." And 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us, "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation...". Given just these two verses we can see that there are "works" that are required of us to receive salvation. We MUST believe, repent, and confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Without these "works", we cannot be justified, and therefore will not be saved.

One last point, there are many places in Scripture where we only see a portion of a scene in one place in the Text. To find the complete picture we must put several passages together. For instance, consider the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10. I will focus on verse 44 which says, "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word." Does this give the impression that the Spirit fell on the people when they believed the words Peter was speaking? It does to a lot of the people with whom I have spoken, but is that the truth? No, because when we look at Acts 11:15, Peter says, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning." So now we know that the people had not heard Peter's message yet. The Holy Spirit fell on the people for one reason (and one reason only), to show the Apostles that the Gentiles had been accepted by God into the Church (Acts 11:18).

So we can see that there are actions that the Bible says either lead to or are required for salvation. There are others, but the actions themselves are not the topic of this debate. The topic is whether any action at all on our part is required to receive salvation. The previous paragraph proves that point.



Excellent argument! I must say that I have absolutely no quarrel whatsoever with most of my opponent's conclusions, however, his arguments do not negate my own.

I agree with my opponent that faith without works is dead. The Bible tells us so, however, faith is not works and works is not faith. He points out several times how Old Testament people were "justified" by their works. However, this occurrence can hardly be applied today as we are no longer living in the Old Testament. God gave the Israelites His law requiring that they live by the law in order to be saved. However, in John 19:28-30 NKJV "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "gI thirst!"h 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "gIt is finished!"h And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." It is finished! What is finished? The law of Moses that the Israelites were required to DO in order to be saved. Now, after the cross, we know, "6 Jesus said to him, "gI am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6 NKJV. We cannot be saved apart from a faith in who Jesus is and a belief that the Father raised Him from the dead. Before the cross, action was required in order for people to be saved or justified, but now that "it is finished", this is no longer an option. Therefore, using Old Testament characters to prove that WE must act in order to be saved is invalid.

Now, I accept my opponent's definition of "justified", however, because it is not by works that we come to Jesus, and because, he is the only way to the Father, works are not what saves us. I also agree that there can be works without faith, and Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV is a perfect example of this. For convenience, I will state it again, "21 "gNot everyone who says to Me, "eLord, Lord,"f shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, "eLord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"f Who enters the kingdom of heaven, or in other words, who is saved? "he who does the will of my Father in heaven." Good people can do these things but if they do these things of their own volition apart from God then they are just that, apart from God. Even Jesus declares that it is not He who does the works but God through Him. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works." John 14:10 NKJV. Also in John 6:38-39 NKJV "38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." in John 5:30 NKJV it is written "30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." Finally, in Philippians 2:13, "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Therefore, if it is indeed God who works in us and through us to do His will, can we rightly take credit for what has been done? Faith without works is dead, but the works of faith are done by Him Who does them in and through us.

My opponent has stated that it is the power of God that saves us, and he is correct. Also, he is correct in saying that it is the gift of God that we neither deserve or can earn. If we cannot earn salvation the mere idea of doing works in order to achieve this is illogical, regardless of whether it is as simple as believing, repenting, and confessing or not. If we cannot earn something, nothing we can DO will EVER allow us to achieve it. If in order for us to be saved it is required that we do works then the statement, "it is the power of God that saves us. This power is given to us as a gift that we cannot earn and do not deserve." is false! Yet this is Scriptural and therefore according to Christian belief cannot be false. However, there are verses that state we must confess, believe, and repent as my opponent has said. Therefore, the issue is not completely resolved.

So, if my opponent is correct in saying that works are involved in salvation, but as I have proven they cannot be our own, what works are involved? The works of God. Hebrews 12:2 NKJV "2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." God is the author of Creation, of our lives, and our faith. Romans: 2:4 NKJV " Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Consider for a moment, what good would occur by praying for a lost soul to be saved if God's hand is not at work in the salvation process.

"20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20 NKJV

We are able to act righteously because Christ acts through and in us. We are enabled to become righteous because of the goodness of God that brings us to Salvation and repentance. As for believing, James 2:19 NKJV "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble."
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank my opponent for his praise of my argument. I believe that the Bible is Its own best commentary, and that the answers to disagreements like this can be found inside Its pages. I also appreciate that he agrees with most of what I am saying. However, it is that last little bit that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell.

I also agree with Con that we are not living under the Old Covenant. It was "finished" when Christ died. However, seeing as how Hebrews and James are part of the New Covenant, and they both reference the necessity of works to be justified, my point stands under the New Covenant. God still demands that we come to Him, and obey Him, to be saved.

Where is it that we are told that "it is not by works that we come go Jesus"? Romans 6:3-6 says, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." How do we get into Christ Jesus? We are baptized into Him. What does that baptism do? It unites us with Jesus and His Death, so that we can be resurrected just as Jesus was. By what power? The power of the water? NO! By our own power? NO! What does Paul say, " the glory of the Father".

The fact that Jesus did the things He did while He was on Earth by the power of the Father, and the fact that He said He did nothing on his own, does not have any impact on how we are saved. What Jesus meant in saying this was that He had submitted Himself and His authority to the Father. Jesus had laid down all of His power and was "made him a little lower than the angels" (Heb 2:7) Jesus could not have been wholly "man" if He still possessed the power of God. He says Himself that everything He did, He did through the power of the Holy Spirit. But that means nothing to us, and what is required for us to be saved. We must still obey "obey the Gospel" (2 Thes 1:8).

Unfortunately, Philippians 2:13 has been taken out of context by my opponent. The first question we have to ask when we read this passage is, "to whom is Paul talking?" It is clear from Phil 1:1 that he is talking "To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi..." Paul is not talking to those who are unsaved; he is talking to those in whom the Spirit of God resides. The Spirit of God does help to direct us, and to give us the will to obey God. But we do not receive the Spirit of God until we are "in Christ Jesus" (Acts 2:38).

My opponent says that "If we cannot earn salvation the mere idea of doing works in order to achieve this is illogical..." I don't believe he is correct. Let us take for instance a multi-trillionaire who we will call Bob. Bob values his time, and he charges $1,000,000 per hour when he consults with companies he does not own. However, he is very giving, and loves to give a hand up to people who seek to become like him. So he has issued an offer to everyone in the world: "I will give an hour a week for a year worth of counseling to anyone who reads these five books." Now I ask, if I have read those 5 books does that "earn" the 52 million dollars worth of time Bob has offered? I would say, no, it does not. Bob is giving up what to me is a massive value of time and is receiving no compensation for that time (other than his own pleasure in helping me). The same situation applies with God. He has offered everyone salvation as a gift, but He has told us that He will only give it to those who obey a couple of His commands which He specifically links to receiving salvation.

An example of this is in Joshua 6. In Joshua 6:2, God tells Joshua, "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams" horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram"s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him."" God gave Jericho into Joshua's hand, but what do you imagine would have happened if he and the Israelites had decided to stay in camp instead of marching around the city? Would the city have fallen? NO! This is born out in the battle against AI. One person in the nation disobeyed and the entire nation paid the price. But the point is that if you don't obey the command that is linked to the gift, you do not receive the blessing offered.

If all of the work required for salvation was God's work, then everyone who has ever lived will be saved, because John 3:17 says, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." So God is willing to save everyone in the world. But as we have shown, not everyone will be saved. That leaves only one option (because Satan will not do anything to save us), we must do something ourselves to receive God's saving grace.

I understand the desire people have to putting salvation entirely off on God. He has very large shoulders, and can handle the responsibility. He also has the only power that is capable of making us right with Him. But, as exemplified throughout the Old Testament, He wants us to prove our devotion to Him by coming to Him at least in some small way. Your last quote, James 2:19, proves the inadequacy of belief alone to salvation. James point is that the demons will not be saved. But they believe (more than believe, they KNOW) that God is One, yet they will still not be saved. Why? Because belief without action is useless.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Instant-Gator 2 years ago
I tried to send a message, however it appears that you, that is JonHouser, are not accepting messages. I would like to apologize for being unable to return to this debate in time I was gone all of Friday and due to an accident on the ice was sent to an Urgent Care facility for much of Saturday. I had hoped that this afternoon wasn't too late and that I had until tomorrow morning but, I suppose I was wrong. Again, I apologize. Thank you for your time. It was an excellent debate. I would, however, like you to know that I actually agree with your point of view, repentance, believing, and confession are all actions. It was rather hard to debate this subject because I know what I believe. In truth, I originally accepted thinking that I would prove that faith does occur in your heart, not necessarily only outside of your heart. It was only a little while later that I realized my actual "job", which you stated in the first round. Thank you for your time and I apologize that I couldn't finish.

If I were able to continue debating this subject I would point to John 12:34 (KJV here) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." If the next verse is any context, which I believe that it is, he is talking about eternal life. I would build my argument using this verse and some others.

Although I am unsure you will see this it is not for lack of me trying. Thank you again for your time.

Posted by canis 2 years ago
No.. People are visible..
Posted by Instant-Gator 2 years ago
Ah, thank you.
Posted by JonHouser 2 years ago
Click "accept debate" above.
Posted by Instant-Gator 2 years ago
I would very much like to debate this subject with you, however, as this is my first debate on this site, I am rather confused on how to post directly to the debate. Although, this would be my first debate here, please know that I am currently enrolled in a debate class, and hopefully, will still be able to offer a spirited and valuable debate. I would accept your challenge, but, unfortunately, it appears I need some direction on how to do so.
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