Tag Archive: works


Saved by Faith, or by Works?

‘Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, STRIVE to enter in at the strait gate: for MANY, I say unto you, WILL SEEK to enter in, and shall not be able.’  (Luke 13:23-24)

Notice Jesus doesn’t just say ‘many won’t enter in’.  Instead, He says ‘many will SEEK to enter in but won’t be able’.  These are not just worldly, indifferent people–they are people who WANT to enter into Heaven.  What is the difference between those who seek to enter in but can’t, and those who strive to enter in and are able?

‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, YE THAT WORK INIQUITY*.’  (Matthew 7:21-23)

According to Strong’s, those who ‘work iniquity’ are those who do ‘anomia’

iniquity = anomia (G458)

1) the condition of without law

..a) because ignorant of it

..b) because of violating it

2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness

 

This passage separates between those who DO the will of the Father, and those who don’t–and further clarifies it as those who live by His law vs. those who don’t.

Now, we know that as Christians we are not bound to the Mosaic Law.  But we ARE expected to follow the Ten Commandments (and the four restrictions in Acts 15:20).

‘ . . . but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’  (Jesus, Matt. 19:17)

According to Matt. 7:21-23, the difference between eternal life and damnation is whether or not you follow God’s Commandments.  NO, we do not OBTAIN salvation by following the Commandments, or any other thing that we might do.  There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  But when we become Christians we enter into a blood covenant with God, and our part is to do His will.  If we aren’t doing His Will, then we aren’t ‘abiding’ in Him.  If we aren’t doing His will, then we are walking in the flesh.  Christianity today is misrepresented as a free bus ticket: we say a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ and then get a free ride.  But that’s never what God intended.  His will is to have

‘ . . .  a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:’  (1 Peter 2:9)

When God made the first covenant (the ‘Old’ covenant) with the people of Israel, Moses gave the people The Law

‘And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.’  (Exodus 24:3)

Then a blood sacrifice was made, to seal the covenant.

We are heirs to a better covenant.

‘But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’  (Jer. 31:33)

Not only does He write His law in our hearts, He gives us His Holy Spirit, to will and to perform it.  This covenant was sealed by the blood of Jesus.

In return for being redeemed from the bondage of sin and judgment, we are to yield ourselves as living sacrifices to Him.

‘What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’  (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.’  (Romans 12:1)

To simplify it,

‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’  (Matt. 22:37-40)

And how do we find the love to fulfill these two commandments?  We walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. The Holy Spirit is the love of God, living in us, and flowing through us. The Holy Spirit will work in our heart to desire to do, and to perform the will of God.  The Holy Spirit will not lead us into sin.  The Holy Spirit will keep us on the path.

‘Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;’  (Titus 2:12)

The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the Word of God, to change us from the inside out.

‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’  (Romans 12:2)

‘ . . . Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’  (Ephesians 5:26-27)

How do we walk in the Spirit? We say ‘no’ to worldly lusts and ungodly temptations, thereby ‘crucifying the flesh’–because if we are walking in the flesh, we are not walking in the Spirit.  And we pray and read the Word of God . . . and then we live what we learn.

‘For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.’  (Matt. 11:30)

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light–but we must CHOOSE to walk on the narrow path.  We must STRIVE to enter in.  That striving is not a ‘work’ . . . it is our flesh and our will we strive with.  But if we say no to the flesh and yield ourselves to Him, His Spirit will lead us into all righteousness.

‘Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness.’  (Psalm 143:10)

There is much confusion about ‘works’, but  here’s what the Bible says, in a nutshell:

‘For BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.’  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.’  (Galatians 2:16)

But

‘What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone . . . I will shew thee my faith by my works.’  (James 2:14, 17, 18)

‘But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.‘  (James 2:20-24)

Saving faith produces ‘works’ in keeping with that faith–and that is God’s will for us.

‘Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’  (Titus 2:14)

‘And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works’  (Hebrews 10:24)

‘That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’  (2 Timothy 3:17)

‘[This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.’  (Titus 3:8)

‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’  (Ephesians 2:10)

Who are the ‘saints’?

‘ . . . they that keep the commandments of God, AND the faith of Jesus.’  (Rev. 14:12)

There really is no contradiction at all, except in the minds of those who don’t consider the full counsel of the Word of God.

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God Will Put You To The Test

‘ . . .  there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’  (Matt. 24:24)

God isn’t mocked.  He will separate those who are only looking for a way of escape from hell, from those who are really committed to Him.  Part of the way He does this, is by sending false prophets who tell you what you want to hear:

  • everything is permissible, you’re ‘covered by grace’ (or ‘covered by His blood’ or ‘once saved always saved’)
  • God doesn’t judge
  • its ok to follow other gods (have a spirit guide; do yoga, meditation, contemplative payer, or Reiki; listen to the ‘ascended masters’, or the Pleiadeans, or whoever, etc.)
  • nothing is sinful in itself, listen to what music you like, celebrate whatever holidays you please
  • we shouldn’t take the Bible literally
  • don’t strive to be righteous, that’s ‘works salvation’ (or being a Pharisee)
  • God wants you to be prosperous and successful, and ‘have your best life now’
  • don’t be so serious, relax, God wants you to have fun and enjoy life too
  • etc., etc.

God will test you to see whether you will be obedient to what is plainly written throughout His Word, or whether you will use their words as a justification to do what you want.

‘If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

And the sign or the wonder COME TO PASS,

whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams:

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD PROVETH YOU, TO KNOW WHETHER YE LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL.

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.‘  (Deut. 13:1-4)

‘And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH, but HAD PLEASURE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.‘  (2 Thess. 2:11-12)

‘For the time will come when they WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS SHALL THEY HEAP TO THEMSELVES TEACHERS , having itching ears; And they shall TURN AWAY [their] ears FROM THE TRUTH, and shall be TURNED UNTO FABLES.’  (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Back to the truth that people are turning away from . . .

In Deuteronomy 13:1-4 we see there are two alternatives:

  1. Follow the false prophet, who is able to perform signs and wonders,  who tells you ‘let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them’,  or
  2. ‘Walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.’

Lest you think this applies only to Old Testament times, let us look at the SAME choice, given to all who are on the Earth, in the last days

‘And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.  And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and CAUSETH THE EARTH AND THEM WHICH DWELL THEREIN TO WORSHIP the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.  And he DOETH GREAT WONDERS, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; SAYING TO THEM THAT DWELL ON THE EARTH, THAT THEY SHOULD MAKE AN IMAGE to the beast . . . ‘  (Rev. 13:11-14)

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 prophesied, thousands of years ago, of the events that are in our near future!  Notice the parallel between the passages:

”there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder COME TO PASS,

whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them’

And those who would NOT worship or follow this other god, or participate in creating the idol as part of his worship . . . how are they described?

‘And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, WHICH KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, AND have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’  (Rev. 12:17)

‘Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, AND the faith of Jesus.’  (Rev. 14:12)

Again, note the parallel to Deuteronomy 13:4:

‘Walk after the LORD your God, and FEAR HIM, and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and OBEY his voice, and ye shall serve HIM, and cleave unto him.’

Also, note that in 2 Thessalonians 2 there was a contradiction implied:

‘That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, BUT had pleasure in unrighteousness.’

There are two choices:

  1. believe the truth, or
  2. have pleasure in unrighteousness

The two choices are opposites, implying that to believe the truth is the opposite of having pleasure in unrighteousness.  Again, this speaks so clearly to the times in which we live, and the things which the false prophets are saying.  Either:

  1. you can choose to believe the truth which permeates God’s Word–which is that we need to fear the Lord, walk after Him, follow His commandments, obey His voice, serve Him, and cleave to Him, or
  2. you can choose to believe the lies of today’s false prophets–that we need not fear God, that we can walk after our own desires, that we do not need to follow God’s commandments, that we can make our own choices, and that we can serve ourselves

That’s the test.  You’ll find plenty of people who will support your choice, if you follow the false prophets.  You may even believe that you can blame it on them if they’re wrong.  But if you are able to read these words of mine, you also have access to the Word of God.  You WILL be judged by what is in that book, whether you take the time to read it, or not.

If you are getting involved with the Sacred Name movement, you should be aware where that road leads.  It directs you into the Hebrew Roots movement, and the Hebrew Roots movement teaches that you should be under The Law.  From what I’ve seen, they also deny the Trinity.  And they lead you to submit to the rabbis who adhere, not to the Old Testament as you would suppose but, to the (occult) Talmud/the ‘oral tradition’/the interpretation of the rabbis, etc.  Some even go so far as to throw out the books written by Paul, and to declare him a false apostle!

If you wish to try to live by The Law, that’s your choice, but understand this:

‘We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is NOT JUSTIFIED by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the FAITH of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall NO flesh be justified. . . .  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.‘ (Galatians 2:15-16, 21)

Your justification can never come by the law, but only by your faith in Jesus Christ.  Furthermore:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

But that NO man is justified by the LAW in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by FAITH.  And the LAW IS NOT OF FAITH . . . Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through FAITH.’  (Galatians 3:10-14)

It’s a VERY good thing that Jesus Christ died to redeem us from that curse of The Law, because NO ONE is able to keep all things which are written in the book of the law (Law of Moses).  If you doubt me, read the book of Leviticus and see what you are signing up for.  The Apostles rightly characterized The Law as being ‘a yoke . . . which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear‘.  Beyond that, there are things which the Law of Moses was not able to justify!

‘ . . . through this man [Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:  And by him all that believe are justified from ALL things, from which ye could NOT be justified by the law of Moses.’  (Acts 13:38-39)

You may TRY to keep The Law–but no one can.  And if you don’t keep EVERYTHING written in it, you’re under a curse.  And even if you COULD keep it, it wouldn’t justify everything! Only Jesus Christ can justify us in ALL things.

Now, if you wish to live by The Law as a matter of lifestyle preference, that’s your choice.  While I DO believe that most of the early Jewish believers still did their best to live according to The Law, they trusted in Jesus’ sacrifice to cover them when they fell short.  I suspect they kept The Law as a matter of CUSTOM, and as a witness of their continued commitment to righteousness, for their Jewish family and friends.

But, it is clear that GENTILE believers are definitely NOT required to keep the Law of Moses.  Notice the wording of the decision made by the (Jewish) Apostles, in regards to whether the Gentiles should keep The Law:

‘Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have TROUBLED YOU with words, SUBVERTING YOUR SOULS, saying, [Ye must] BE CIRCUMCISED, AND KEEP THE LAW: TO WHOM WE GAVE NO [SUCH] COMMANDMENT . . .it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

(1) That ye abstain from meats offered to idols,

(2) and from blood,

(3) and from things strangled,

(4) and from fornication:

from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.’

(Acts 15:24, 28-29)

We are told, throughout the Scriptures, both old and new testaments, to keep God’s (ten) Commandments.  Other than that, the above four things are all that is binding upon Gentile believers.

And, since I started out with a mention of the Sacred Name movement, you should know that nowhere in Scripture is there any sort of fuss made as to how we address our Father in Heaven.  This is the same sort of silly superstition that leads Kabbalistic (occult-involved) Jews to not speak the name of God.  (Or perhaps that is merely their excuse, because they do not wish to use the name of God, since those in the Kabbalistic/occult ‘Synagogue of Satan’  are actually worshiping Satan/Lucifer.)  Look deeper into who is leading the Sacred Name and Hebrew Roots movements, because I suspect that is who you will find working behind the scenes.

The Lord knows our heart, and He knows when we are calling out to Him.

‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT.’  (Jesus–John 6:37)

(Not even if you are mistaken about His name.)

‘Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his . . . ‘  (2 Timothy 2:19)

‘But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.’  (John 4:23-24)

In spirit and in truth–not in form and ritual (which are hallmarks of the occult).  Jesus went all the way to the cross, and gave His life for you– He wouldn’t turn you away for something so small as if you were in error about His name!!

‘Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’  (Luke 12:32)

Naked Christians

‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and [my] fatlings [are] killed, and all things [are] ready: come unto the marriage.  But they made light of [it], and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated [them] spitefully, and slew [them].  But when the king heard [thereof], he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.’   (Matthew 22:2-7)

This is a quick summary of the history of Israel, through AD 70.

 

‘Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.  So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.’  (Matthew 22:8-10)

This summarizes taking the gospel to all the world.

 

‘And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man WHICH HAD NOT ON A WEDDING GARMENT: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For many are called, but few [are] chosen.‘  (Matthew 22:11-14)

 

This is a warning for today.  It is not enough just to answer the gospel invitation.  We must be clothed in a proper wedding garment!  And what is that garment?

 

‘ . . . as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might SANCTIFY and CLEANSE it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, NOT HAVING SPOT, OR WRINKLE, or any such thing; but that it should be HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH.’  (Ephesians 5:25-27)

 

‘For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after RIGHTEOUSNESS, GODLINESS, FAITH, LOVE, PATIENCE, MEEKNESS.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called . . . That thou keep [this] commandment WITHOUT SPOT, UNREBUKEABLE, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:’  (1 Timothy 6:10-14)

 

‘ . . . be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, WITHOUT SPOT, and BLAMELESS.’  (2 Peter 3:14)

(If it depended only on Jesus Christ’s righteousness, we would not be told to BE DILIGENT.)

 

Our wedding garment is the spiritual fruit we bear, the faith we live by, and the holiness of our lifestyle.

‘ . . . that they should repent and turn to God, and DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE.’  (Acts 26:20)

 

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITH, MEEKNESS, TEMPERANCE: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have CRUCIFIED THE FLESH WITH THE AFFECTIONS AND LUSTS.’  (Galatians 5:22-24)

 

‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God hath BEFORE ORDAINED THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM.’  (Ephesians 2:10)

 

‘By FAITH Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that HE PLEASED GOD.’  (Hebrews 11:5)

 

‘And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; FOR THEE HAVE I SEEN RIGHTEOUS before me in this generation.’  (Genesis 7:1)

 

‘Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us CLEANSE OURSELVES from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, PERFECTING HOLINESS in the FEAR OF GOD.’  (2 Corinthians 7:1)

 

‘ . . . for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now YIELD YOUR MEMBERS servants to RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO HOLINESS . . . But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, YE HAVE YOUR FRUIT UNTO HOLINESS, and the end everlasting life.’  (Romans 6:19, 22)

 

In verse thirteen, we saw what happened to the guest who had come to the wedding feast without a garment:

‘Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and TAKE HIM AWAY, and CAST [HIM] INTO OUTER DARKNESS; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

Jesus repeats this teaching again . . .

‘Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles TO BURN THEM: but gather the wheat into my barn.’

(Matthew 13:30)

 

And again . . .

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit HE TAKETH AWAY: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.   Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is CAST FORTH as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and CAST [THEM] INTO THE FIRE, and they are burned.’  (John 15:1-6)

 

Paul teaches with this same spiritual understanding:

‘For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:  But that which beareth thorns and briers [is] REJECTED, and [is] nigh unto cursing; WHOSE END [IS] TO BE BURNED.

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. . . And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:  That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. . . And so, after [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.’  (Hebrews 6:7-15)

 

Salvation does not come at our profession of faith.  We receive salvation if we endure to the end and produce the spiritual fruit that comes from a life of holiness and sanctification.

‘And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that endureth TO THE END shall be saved.’  (Matthew 10:22)

 

‘But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, IF WE HOLD FAST the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope FIRM UNTO THE END.’  (Hebrews 3:6)

 

The key to bearing spiritual fruit is to abide in Jesus.

‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same BRINGETH FORTH MUCH FRUIT: for without me ye can do nothing.’  (John 15:4-5)

 

Hear two final warnings, for our generation:

** ‘Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed [is] he that watcheth, and KEEPETH HIS GARMENTS, LEST HE WALK NAKED, and they see his shame.’  (Revelation 16:15)

 

**’ And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art LUKEWARM, and neither cold nor hot, I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH.

BECAUSE THOU SAYEST, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and KNOWEST NOT THAT THOU ART WRETCHED, and MISERABLE, and POOR, and BLIND, and NAKED: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and WHITE RAIMENT, THAT THOU MAYEST BE CLOTHED, and [that] the SHAME OF THY NAKEDNESS do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, THAT THOU MAYEST SEE.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: BE ZEALOUS therefore, and REPENT.’  (Revelation 3:14-19)

Those who teach that any effort on the part of a Christian is ‘works’, and that ‘works’ void our salvation, are misleading people. Here are some passages from Scripture that should demonstrate that self-will and effort ARE required, on our part:

‘ . . . that they should repent and turn to God, and DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE.’ (Acts 26:20)

‘ . . . BE DILIGENT that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’ (2 Peter 3:14)

‘Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, LET US CLEANSE OURSELVES from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, PERFECTING HOLINESS in the fear of God.’ (2 Corinthians 7:1)

‘ . . . WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ (Philippians 2:12)

‘ . . . for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now YIELD YOUR MEMBERS servants to righteousness unto holiness.’ (Romans 6:19)

‘ . . . PUT OFF concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And BE RENEWED in the spirit of your mind; And that ye PUT ON the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ (Ephesians 4:22-24–and more in verses 25-32)

‘[This] I say then, WALK in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.’ (Galatians 5:16)

‘But thou, O man of God, FLEE these things; and FOLLOW AFTER righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. FIGHT the good fight of faith, LAY HOLD ON eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.’ (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

A correct interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-9 . . .

‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.’

. . . is that none of us can stand before God as righteous, based on our works. Yet, in the VERY NEXT VERSE (!) we are told that:

‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’ (Ephesians 2:10)

‘Also on the tenth [day] of this seventh month [there shall be] a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict* your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.  And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it [is] a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.

For whatsoever soul [it be] that shall not be afflicted* in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.

And whatsoever soul [it be] that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.

Ye shall do no manner of work: [it shall be] a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  It [shall be] unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict* your souls: in the ninth [day] of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.’

(Leviticus 23:27-32)

*afflict oneself = to humble oneself

In the midst of the description of the Lord’s feasts, is the description of the Day of Atonement.  Interestingly, this day carried warnings that the other feast days didn’t:

‘For whatsoever soul [it be] that shall not be afflicted* in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.

And whatsoever soul [it be] that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.’  (Lev. 23:29-30)

This ties in with Paul taught:

‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.’  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Day of Atonement foreshadows the salvation that comes to us, by Jesus Christ. As this passage shows, we are to come to God on bended knee–not proudly, with our head held high.  We do not come to God by being ‘good enough’.  Our own works could never save us. We have no right to come to Him, believing in our own goodness.  It is only when we are afflicted . . . humbled by the weight of our sins . . . that we are able to come to Him with the right attitude.

The idea that all we have to do is believe in Jesus and we’re saved, is missing the most important things:  humility and repentance!

The predominant theme among ‘Christian’ evangelism today: that we are good, and God was lonely and made us for companionship, and that He’s totally accepting of us just the way we are, is baloney!  God loves us, not because of any goodness we have, but because His goodness surpasses understanding.  Nevertheless, He requires that we approach Him with the right attitude.

As these verses foreshadow, all those who do not approach Him in humility and repentance will be cut off.  Likewise, he who trusts in his own works to justify him with God, will find himself cut off.

I talk a lot about how the preTrib Rapture, Easy Grace, and Once Saved Always Saved doctrines are wrong.  I say that they preach ‘another gospel’ about ‘another Jesus’ and produce (so-called, self-professed) ‘Christians’ that are really more accurately called unconverted believers.  One such person recently (mockingly) asked me:

“So….how do you live exactly?? Do you know without a doubt where you would go if you died right now? or do you have some unconfessed sin in your life that wouldn’t allow you in heaven….like maybe anger that i detected in your last comment??If i believed the way you do along with catholics, coc, aog, and all the other RELIGIONS, i’d be repenting and trying to get saved every 5 min because i might say an idle word and Jesus could come or i could die the next second. No peace….”

First of all, unless one blasphemes the Holy Spirit, they are not going to ‘lose’ their salvation in 5 minutes.  ‘Lose your salvation’ is a term that this person uses, but I don’t like that term because it is misleading.  It gives the impression of a person setting something down and forgetting where they put it . . . or maybe that someone has taken it away.  It is a passive term that doesn’t convey any responsibility for what happened.  No one can separate us from God.  But we CAN separate ourselves from God.  Therefore, I believe it is more accurate to say that someone can FORFEIT their salvation.

God has given each of us free will, and that is not something that He takes away from us, once we become a Christian.  (Paul told of different people who had turned away from Christianity.  We ALWAYS have the option to stop living for God.)  Let me make it clear first, that if we are walking with Christ, his grace covers us from sins we commit without realizing.  His death covers all our sins, as long as we CONTINUE walking with Him.  But He doesn’t cover our sins if we turn away.  Now I’m not going to split hairs over what it means to turn away–how long a person can backslide without forfeiting their salvation.  That is a heart matter, and only God knows our hearts.  I DO know that we are warned in Scripture, many times, in many ways, to not turn away.

Free will is also why Satan works through deception.  He cannot SNATCH us out of God’s hand–no one can.  But if he can cause us to WALK AWAY of our own free will, and if we don’t turn back, then he has accomplished what he hoped for.  Make no mistake, God DOES allow our faith to be tested, to see if it is genuine.  Adam and Eve sinned, and the devil deceived them, but he was clever enough to be sure that the way he did it didn’t violate their free will, so they had to bear the blame.

Even though we have our own free will, when we become Christians we commit ourselves into God’s hands for safekeeping.  He will not let us slip away.  He will not cast us away because we commit a sin.  Once we become a Christian, His Spirit lives inside of us.  He will reason with us when we are struggling with sin.  He will give us the power to overcome it, and a way out of temptation.  He will warn us when we go wrong.  But if we don’t listen to His Spirit inside us, warning us, then we are guilty of willful sin.

When we sin willfully and don’t repent, God chastises us.  Every good father disciplines his children, God is no exception.  But if we remain stiffnecked and don’t repent, if we continue to ignore His discipline, eventually our heart becomes so hardened by sin that His Holy Spirit can no longer bring us to a place of remorse and repentance.  When we get to that point, our fate is sealed.  This is not something that happens in five minutes . . . maybe not even in five weeks, or five months.

Do I live in fear?  No.  In fact, it wasn’t until I realized that God loved me even when I was in the midst of my sin . . . and that He loved me enough that He would LET me walk away, if I really wanted to, that I really came to trust Him.  When I was still believing the false gospel and OSAS doctrine, I backslid more than once.  I can tell you from experience that I ALWAYS knew I was in danger.  It was THEN that I lived in fear, because the Holy Spirit clearly warned me of what was on the horizon

‘For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,   But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.’  (Hebrews 10:26-27)

With that misunderstanding hopefully out of the way, I will tell you what my life is like now . . .

I rarely think about, or speak about hell.  My personal belief is that trying to motivate people to love God by scaring them to death about hell only produces bad fruit.  God isn’t mocked.  He is looking for people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth–not people who come to Him merely for a ‘get out of jail free card’.  But that’s another subject, perhaps for another post.

I walk in fellowship with God daily.  I pray all the time, about all sorts of things.  I feel strength, faith, and courage inside me, from the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Since I became a (fully converted) Christian, I am a new creation.  I have a new heart, and I have the mind of Christ.  I don’t spend my time being totally self-absorbed.  I don’t sin every five minutes.  (Incidentally, being angry is not a sin.  God is angry with the wicked every day.  Jesus was often angry with hypocrites.  Anger without cause is wrong.  Sinning because you’re angry isn’t excused.  But anger itself isn’t wrong.)

When I realize I have sinned (and it doesn’t take long, because the Holy Spirit lets me know), I repent.  I don’t repent because I’m scared of going to hell.  I repent because I hate sin.  I repent because I realize I’ve offended God.  I hate the break in fellowship that I feel, and knowing I’ve displeased Him.  Because I have a new heart, I don’t want to sin.  I hate the things God hates, and I love the things God loves.  I walk in peace–deep peace–daily, because I’m walking in the presence of God and know that we are in agreement.

Yes, I know without a doubt where I would go if I died now.  No, there’s no unconfessed, unforgiven sin in my life right now.  As I said before, when I sin, I know right away.  And when I know, I repent.  If the sin is a bad attitude or unforgiveness, sometimes I have to ask God to help me with it–and He does.  But I no longer try to hide my sins.  I know that God is my Father, who loves me–not some angry judge who’s waiting for me to mess up so He can reject me.  I know He wants to help me overcome my sins, and doesn’t condemn me for them when I confess and desire to turn away from them.

Although mainstream churchianity talks about  Christianity being a relationship, not a religion (and that is true), most mainstream ‘Christians’ don’t really know God.  They imagine they belong to a ‘God’ who doesn’t require much from them, and bends to their will.  The ‘God’ they suppose they have a relationship with, is a ‘God’ of their own making.  They reject the parts of the Bible that offend them.  They reject the parts of God’s character that they don’t understand, and they lack the fear of God.  They may believe SOME of what they know about Him, and they may desire the things that He provides, but most of them are unwilling to make the sacrifice that He requires. The biggest proof of all is that the image they are being conformed to (as evidenced by their actions and attitudes) is not the image of God.

No one comes to God standing on two feet with their pride and self-esteem intact.  Awe at the power, position, and holiness of God, and the realization of our sinfulness and unworthiness, drops us to our knees.  We come to Him broken and sorry.  We begin our walk with Him in humility, gratitude and repentance.  We continue it the same way.  Arrogance is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Neither is ‘self-esteem’.  Our worth is in Him, not in ourselves.  All our righteousness is as filthy rags.  That doesn’t just mean what we DO, but also who we ARE, in ourselves, without Him.  The strength and assurance I have now is not rooted in myself–it’s because I know who leads me by the hand.

“[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk NOT after the flesh, but after the SPIRIT.” (Romans 8:1)

” . . . Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3-5)

“Knowing that a man is not JUSTIFIED by the works of the law, but by the FAITH of Jesus Christ. . . for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

“What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . faith, IF IT HATH NOT WORKS, is dead, being alone.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith BY my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how FAITH WROUGHT WITH HIS WORKS, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. . . . For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith WITHOUT works is dead also.” (from James 2)

If we must work for our salvation, then God would owe it to us if we did a good job. However, we are NOT justified by the works of the LAW, for none of us is capable of perfectly keeping the law!

What hope of salvation have we then? We can be justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

There is a difference between belief and faith. Belief is a declaration that we agree that something is real or true. But faith, genuine living faith, is the guiding force of our life.

All the actions and decisions of our life spring not from what we believe, but what we believe IN (in other words, from our faith)! Our works, the way we live our life, will testify as to our faith. If our life reveals that we had our faith in God, then that faith will justify us.

‘Abraham believed God’ . . . in other words, Abraham lived a life of obedience to God–and not because he feared the LAW, but because he revered and had faith in the character of GOD.

This faith, in the character and promises of God, was counted to Abraham as righteousness . . . in spite of the fact that he, himself, was neither completely righteous nor perfect.

And here is how we can examine our own hearts:

Do we place our faith in the LAW . . . because we believe IT has the power to determine whether we should be condemned or justified? Is it the LAW that we fear and respect? Do we strive to know the LAW and obey IT completely? Is it the requirements of the LAW that we meditate on? Is it the LAW that we hold dear in our hearts? Is it the LAW that we judge ourselves by?

Or, do we place our faith in GOD, because HE is greater than the law? Do we realize that we can never completely, perfectly fulfill the law ? Do we realize that, even after doing all that we can, we still fall short of attaining the perfection that could justify us, under the law? Do we know that it is only the grace of GOD and the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST that CAN fulfill the righteous requirements of the law? Do we trust in HIM to bridge that gap for us, when we come to the end of our righteousness and still fall short?

Is it JESUS CHRIST whom we place our faith in? Is it GOD whom we fear and respect? Is it GOD we strive to know and obey? Is it the requirements of GOD that we meditate on? Is it GOD whom we hold dear in our hearts?

We all have faith in something. Our faith gives birth to actions (works). Will our works demonstrate a faith that can justify us?

Other people may have a hard time discerning the difference between works done to please the law and works that spring from faith in God, but God knows the difference!