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Early Church Fathers, Doctrine, Scripture, and Salvation


Sometimes, I get curious about what the early Church Fathers thought of different church doctrines and concepts so I study up on them. With that said, I am in no way claiming that I am a history buff on the early Church Fathers but I do find it interesting to learn the earliest thoughts of some of the most prominent men in history.

An issue that is really confused by many in Christian circles is faith. No, not the importance of faith but rather, that Christians are saved by faith and that we can lose our salvation despite where our faith is. Before we begin our study, we must understand that what these men thought may be interesting and line up with our point of view but we must ultimately look to what scripture says and determine whether or not their thoughts and beliefs line up with God.

Too many people, including some of those who I attend church with, claim that a person can lose their salvation which would nullify our faith. The Catholic Church teaches such a belief by claiming that a person’s salvation is not assured until death or it’s dependent on the state of one’s soul at death. Obviously, it’s true that salvation is based on one’s heart and soul: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). If your faith is real and sincere then Christ is your treasure and will be near your heart.

This is where it becomes tricky for many and on both sides. Yes, faith is important as it is the only way to please God; however, simply saying that you believe in God does not mean that you are a true believer in Christ. As most polls and studies suggest, a majority of all people believe in God but many are unsure of what God they believe in which is important because there is only one God and one way to God and that’s through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 44:6; John 10:30; John 14:6) and before one can be truly saved, they must have a real relationship with Christ and it begins with faith. 

The Shepherd of Hermas, a literary book that is considered to be very valuable by many Christians claims that salvation can be lost, stating: “For the Lord has sworn by His glory, in regard to His elect, that if anyone of them sin after a certain day which has been fixed, he shall not be saved. For the repentance of the righteous has limits. Filled up are the days of repentance to all the saints; but to the heathen, repentance will be possible even to the last day.” When we compare this with scripture, we see that even the early Church Fathers put emotion and opinion above the Word of God: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This verse is crucial because is clearly states someone in Christ rather than someone being improved or someone simply stating they believe in Christ. We must remember that even Satan believes in Christ. Satan and his henchmen tremble at the name of Christ and their fate is sealed: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). In other words, there is more to being a Christian than simply believing that there is a God as Satan believes in Christ but he will never live for Christ as a Christian does.

For this article, I do not want to discuss predestination as it’s an entirely different discussion but the Church Father, Augustine, did believe that Christians were predestined for salvation, stating: “The things which are in heaven are gathered together when what was lost therefrom in the fall of the angels is restored from among men, and the things which are on earth are gathered together when those who are predestined to eternal life are redeemed from their old corruption.” Again, let’s take out predestination and focus on salvation of a Christian by looking at scripture: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1). 

This verse is important to us because being justified is another way of being deemed as righteous and when we read it as such, we read that when Christ is our Savior, we are righteous by God. For this study, I conducted a lot of research and found different articles from the Catholic Church and other resources that claimed a person’s salvation cannot be assured or guaranteed which is a proclamation of salvation by works which is clearly not Biblical as we get to Heaven through our faith in Christ, not by silver or gold or good deeds: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8).

We can go on and on with this discussion and it’s a very important one to have and it’s one that needs to be taken seriously as too many church denominations teach a false doctrine. Regardless of what I believe, what matters is what scripture says and the same concept is true for early Church Fathers and other important historical figures. A Christian is one who truly devotes their life to Christ—one that gives their heart and soul to Christ—not someone who simply utters a prayer and says they believe in God and once someone is of Christ and has been truly justified by God, they are redeemed and because God does not go back on His word, we have that eternal assurance of salvation: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

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Written by Billy Ray Parrish


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