What did early Christians
(Before 300 AD)
Uninspired records of how
early Christians worshipped and what doctrine they believed!
Salvation By Works?
- 30-100 AD Clement of Rome "[We] are not justified by
ourselves. Nor by our own wisdom, understanding, godliness, or
works done in holiness of heart. But by that faith through which
Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning."
(Clement of Rome Corinthians chap. 32)
- 69-156 AD Polycarp "Many desire to enter into this joy,
knowing that 'by grace you are saved, not of works,' but by the
will of God through Jesus Christ [Eph. 2:8]." (Polycarp Philippians
- 125 AD Barnabas "To this end the Lord delivered up His
flesh to corruption, that we might be sanctified through the remission
of sins, which is effected by His blood." (Barnabas Letter
- 110-165AD Justin Martyr "Our suffering and crucified
Christ was not cursed by the law. Rather, he made it manifest
that He alone would save those who do not depart from His faith....
As the blood of the passover saved those who were in Egypt, so
also the blood of Christ will deliver from death those who have
believed." (Justin Trypho chap. 111)
- 185-255 AD Origen "One of the doctrines included in the
teaching of the Church is that there is a just judgment of God.
This fact incites those who believe it to live virtuously and
to shun sin. They acknowledge that the things worthy of praise
and blame are within our own power. ... It is our responsibility
to live righteously. God asks this of us, not as though it were
dependent on Him, nor on any other, or upon fate (as some think),
but as being dependent on us. The prophet Micah demonstrated this
when he said, 'It has been announced to you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you? To do justice and to love
mercy' [Mic. 6:8]. Moses also said, 'I have set before you the
way of life, and the way of death. Choose what is good and walk
in it' [Deut. 30: 15]. ... "Notice how Paul also speaks to
us with the understanding that we have freedom of the will and
that we ourselves are the cause of our own ruin or our salvation.
He says, 'Do you show contempt for the riches of His goodness,
patience, and longsuffering, not realizing that God's goodness
leads you towards repentance? But because of your stubbornness
and your unrepentant heart, you are treasuring up wrath against
yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous
judgment of God. God will render to each one according to his
works. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory and
immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are
contentious and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will
be anger, wrath and tribulation.' [Rom. 2:48]. ... "But
certain statements in the Old and New Testaments might lead to
the opposite conclusion: That it does not depend on us to keep
the commandments and be saved. Or to transgress them and to be
lost. So let's examine them one by one. ... "First, the statements
concerning Pharaoh have troubled many. God declared several times,
'I will harden Pharaoh's heart' [Exod. 4:21]. Of course, if Pharaoh
was hardened by God and sinned as a result of being hardened,
he was not the cause of his own sin. So he did not possess free
will. ... "Along with this passage, let's also look at the
passage in Paul: 'But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?
Shall the thing formed say to Him who formed it, 'Why have you
made me like this?' Does the potter not have power over the clay-from
the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto
dishonor?' [Rom. 9:20,21]. ... "Since we consider God to
be both good and just, let's see how the good and just God could
harden the heart of Pharaoh. Perhaps by an illustration used by
the apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we can show that, by
the same operation, God can show mercy to one man while he hardens
another, although not intending to harden. 'The ground,' he says,
'drinks in the rain that falls upon it and produces crops for
the farmer, being blessed by God. But the ground that produces
thorns and briers is worthless, and is in danger of being cursed.
Its end is to be burned' [Heb. 6:7,8]. ... "It may seem strange
for Him who produces rain to say, 'I produced both the fruit and
the thorns from the earth.' Yet, although strange, it is true.
If the rain had not fallen, there would have been neither fruit
nor thorns. The blessing of the rain, therefore, fell even on
the unproductive land. But since it was neglected and uncultivated,
it produced thorns and thistles. In the same way, the wonderful
acts of God are like the rain. The differing results are like
the cultivated and the neglected land. ... "The acts of God
are also like the sun, which could say, 'I both soften and harden.'
Although these two actions are opposite, the sun would not speak
falsely, because the same heat both softens wax and hardens mud.
Similarly, on the one hand, the miracles performed through Moses
hardened Pharaoh because of his own wickedness. But they softened
the mixed Egyptian multitude, who left Egypt with the Hebrews.
... "Let's look at another passage: 'So then it is not of
him who wills, nor of him that runs, but of God who shows mercy'
[Rom. 9:16]. Paul is not denying that something also has to be
done by human means. But he gratefully refers the benefit to God,
who brings it to completion. The mere human desire is insufficient
to attain the end. The mere running does not in itself enable
athletes to gain the prize. Nor does it enable Christians to obtain
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Those things are only
accomplished with the assistance of God. ... "As if speaking
about farming, Paul says, 'I planted, Apollos watered, and God
made it grow. So then neither is he who plants anything, nor he
that waters, but God, who made it grow' [1 Cor. 3:6,7]. Now we
could not correctly say that the growing of crops is the work
of the farmer alone. Nor of the one who irrigates. It is ultimately
the work of God. Likewise, it is not as though we ourselves play
no role in our spiritual growth to perfection. Yet, it is not
completed by us, for God produces the greater part of it. So also
with our salvation. What God does is infinitely greater than what
we do." (Origen First Things bk. 3. chap 1. Paraphrased
- 190 AD Clement of Alexandria "It follows that there is
one unchangeable gift of salvation given by one God, through one
Lord, benefiting in many ways." (Clement Miscellanies
bk. 6, chap. 13)
- 190 AD Clement of Alexandria "Abraham was not justified
by works, but by faith [Rom. 4:3]. Therefore, even if they do
good works now, it is of no advantage to them after death, if
they do not have faith." (Clement Miscellanies bk.
1, chap. 7)
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