The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘works salvation’

We Were Once Disobedient

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 13, 2013

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:3-6)

Yes, we were ONCE foolish, disobedient, deceived, and serving various lusts and pleasures.  But now we serve Jesus.

We ONCE walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (satan), that spirit who works in all disobedient children (Eph. 2:2-3). We ONCE conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, but if we are saved, we are not doing these things anymore.

Why?–The kindness and love of God our Savior has appeared to us, and it has not left us unchanged. When we deserved judgment, He offered us forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. His kindness, meant to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4), has done its work in our hearts. Because He loved us selflessly, we have learned to love Him (I John 4:19).  And because we love Him, we now give Him our willing obedience (John 14:23).

It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. What does this mean? Does it mean “works of righteousness” are unnecessary? Are they, as so many claim, “legalism”?

Paul writes later in this same chapter that the saints should be taught to “maintain good works.” (vs. 14)  We are changed and saved by God’s mercy. But beware of those who use Scripture to “prove” that we don’t have to obey God. Anyone who uses Scripture to promote unrighteousness is working for satan. It is one thing to acknowledge that we needed the undeserved mercy of God in order to be reconciled;  it is quite another to presume upon that mercy and continue willfully in unrighteousness.

If you were an employer who just caught an employee stealing from your company, you would have several options.  The most viable options are these:

1) You could terminate the employee immediately without any second chances to protect your company.  This perfectly legal option offers the least risk to the employer, and the least redemptive opportunity to the employee.

2) You could extend mercy to the employee, in hope that this mercy will change his heart and behavior, making him a valuable asset to your company in the future.  This is a risky option. Some people, given a second chance to do wrong, will take full advantage and do more wrong.  They may even mock the employer behind his back for being so gullible. Others may, in light of the undeserved kindness of the employer, feel a new sense of gratitude toward him, and commit to honesty from that time forward. An employer would only choose this option if benevolent concern for his employee outweighed concern for personal risk.

 

Applying our analogy to the Christian life, God has chosen option 2. We should have done everything He asked, but we were disobedient. We squandered His blessings and refused to steward our lives appropriately. We blackened His Name and robbed Him of His glory. He could have terminated us without mercy, and He would have been completely justified. But He chose the riskier course for Himself, in hope that some hearts would be changed by His mercy.Thankfully, some hearts have been changed. Some have responded to His mercy with repentance and willing submission.

Others mock Him by continuing willfully in sin, even after knowing the truth about His sacrifice on their behalf. They have insulted the Spirit of Grace.  The sacrifice of Jesus–which they claim gives them license to continue robbing God–only condemns them because they are still adversaries  (Heb. 10:26-31). They have not been made friends and children of God. They do not cry, “Abba, Father,” and submit to Him in grateful response to His mercy. They instead trample the blood of Christ beneath their feet by continued disobedience.

If you, a merciful employer, forgave the debt of a thieving employee, only to later find that he had continued pillaging you with the understanding that that your mercy gave him every right to do so, how would you respond?

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh, will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit, will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Gal. 6:7-8)

Dear reader, can you say that you were ONCE disobedient, but the kindness of God in Christ has changed you? It is true that no one can be saved by works.  It is also true that no one whose works do not change–in response to the mercy of God–can be saved.

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Posted in Judgment of God, Legalism, Once Saved Always Saved, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Speaking Sound Doctrine

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 13, 2012

Titus 2 begins with “As for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine,” and ends with “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority.” Sandwiched in between are teachings that constitute the “sound doctrine” which ought to be spoken.

In brief, the chapter includes requirements for character and conduct for older men, younger men, older women and younger women. Then it gives the proper definition of saving grace, and sums up how we should live in the present age with these three words: soberly, righteously, and godly. It ends with a reminder that Jesus died to redeem us from every lawless deed (He saves His people from their sins not just the penalty of sin), and His goal is to purify for Himself a peculiar people who are zealous for good works.

In today’s apostate religious environment, it is almost impossible to speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine without being labelled a pharisee, a legalist, a person working for salvation, or a false teacher who doesn’t understand grace.  Standards for character and conduct are considered outdated.  The grace of God has become a cover behind which we can sin willfully, rather than the gift of God’s teaching to an obedient disciple that it really is.  And God forbid you are zealous for good works; people will shake their heads at your misplaced zeal and call you a heretic for sure.

When apostasy from the truth is wide-sweeping and extreme, a person going against the flow by embracing and teaching the truth will seem like the extreme one.  He will have to be content to be the “odd man out” and the heretic and the pharisee, because most will not receive him. Yes, he will be beaten in the synagogues (figuratively, if not physically) and rejected. His name will be cast out as evil for the Son of Man’s sake. He will speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine–the doctrine which accords with godliness (I Tim. 6:3)–and because he has done so, he will be rejected as the worst kind of sinner. This is because in many of today’s apostate religious circles, the greatest sin is to stop sinning, and the surest sign of your salvation is your willingness to admit that you never stop sinning.  It is both ironic and heartbreaking to see people embracing such strong delusion because they have pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess 2:11-12) and do not want to repent.

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim. 2:19)  Make no mistake;  wicked behavior and the excusing of wicked behavior are both contrary to sound doctrine (I Tim. 1:9-10).  Those who continue in such can expect the judgment and fiery indignation that God is going to pour out on His adversaries (Heb. 10:26-31).

Sincere disciple of Jesus–

  • Continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine as the early church did (Acts 2:42).
  • Obey the doctrine to which you have been delivered, that you may be freed from the slavery of sin, and live as a slave of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18).
  • Hold fast the faithful Word as you have been taught, that you may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict (Titus 1:9).
  • Teach this sound doctrine and no other (I Tim. 1:3-4).
  • Note people who seek to divide you from this doctrine (the doctrines of Christ, His apostles and prophets recorded in all Scripture–2 Tim. 3:16-17) and avoid them (Rom. 6:17).
  • Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4:2-4).
  • Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (I Tim. 4:16).
  • Abide in the doctrine of Christ and do not transgress, lest you no longer have the Father or the Son (2 John 1:9).

God bless you!

Posted in Apostasy, Calvinism, Legalism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Command to Abide

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 20, 2011

 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  (John 15:1-10, NKJV)

I am amazed that any person can really read this passage and still teach the false doctrine of “once-saved-always-saved.”  Jesus did not believe or teach that doctrine and neither should we.

Some say, “Eternal life is eternal; therefore salvation cannot be lost.”  This argument does not take into account that salvation is a Person–the Person of Jesus Christ.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (I John 5:11)

This eternal life is where?–In His Son!  Jesus Christ is eternal life, and will always remain eternal, but that doesn’t mean people always remain in Him.  This is why Jesus taught His disciples that they must abide in (stay connected to) Him!

If a branch does not remain closely connected to the main Vine, it cannot produce fruit. Producing good fruit is absolutely necessary for salvation–for so you will be My disciples (and only disciples of Jesus will be saved, for He is the only Way, Truth and Life.) Jesus made it absolutely clear that if the disciples did not produce fruit through abiding in Him, they would be taken away.  Just as a withered branch is good for nothing but to be burned in a fire, a fruitless branch in Christ will be removed.  Once in Him always in Him? Not according to Jesus.

Jesus also taught that in order to abide in His love, we must keep His commandments!  (Note the conditional “if” in verse 10!)  Even Christ Himself did not take for granted the love of God the Father, but kept His commands and so remained in His love.

Oh dear, this writer is teaching works salvation

No, my friend. This is the Word of God, and we must take its warnings and conditions seriously.

In Romans 11, Paul paints a similar word-picture using an olive tree instead of a vine. The Gentiles (pictured as wild branches) who believed on Christ were grafted into the good olive tree by faith, and the Jews who rejected Him were cut off. But this stern warning was given to those Gentiles already grafted in:

If God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,  if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (21-22)

Once grafted in, always grafted in? Not according to Paul. He said there is a condition to remaining grafted in–you must continue in His goodness.  You must abide in Him!

What does abiding look like?–

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:6)

How did Jesus walk?  He gave this bold testimony, “I do always those things that please him [the Father].” (Jn. 8:29)  So whoever says he abides in Jesus must always, as much as is in his power, do the things that please God.  And God does not ask what is beyond our strength to give, for we are commanded to love Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength we possess, but never with more than we possess.  John wrote, “He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him,” and “whoever abides in Him does not sin.” (I Jn. 3:24; I Jn. 3:6)

In addition to loving God, we must also love our brother in order to abide in Christ (who is the light of the world), for he who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him (I Jn. 2:10).

And now, little children, abide in Him, that whenHe appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.  (I John 2:28-29)

Do you want to have confidence when you see Jesus coming on the clouds?  Make sure that you are grafted in, and then abide in Him! Remain in Him, do only those things which please the Father, love and serve the Body of Christ, and love your neighbor as yourself (being careful to share the truth with them as you are able).  When they see you zealous for good works, false Christians may cast you out of their fellowship thinking they do God a service, but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed (Isa. 66:5).

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

My God, We Know Thee (Lord, Lord!)

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 19, 2011

Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. (Hos. 8:2-3)

Is God mocked? Can He be fooled into accepting those who treat His redeeming blood as an unholy thing by their continuation in disobedience after God has provided so great a salvation? No–

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.   For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal. 6:7-8)

Please note: according to this passage, depending on what we “sow” (do), we will either reap corruption or everlasting life (salvation).  This passage says nothing about losing a few rewards while still receiving everlasting life, as many are falsely teaching. Do not be deceived.  Israel was delivered from Egypt by the mighty power of God, and atonement was provided for his sins.  Yet because he cast off the thing that was good, counting the great things of God’s law a strange thing, the Lord declared, “The LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.” (Hos. 8:13)

It is not enough to cry out, “My God, we know thee!”–even if you really knew Him at one time. It is not enough to have a Bible and knowledge of what it says. We must cease from casting off the thing that is good. We must willingly wear the good yoke of Christ, keeping in step with Him through the Spirit, living as He is–holy–in this world (I Jn. 4:17). If we cast off the thing that is good, the enemy shall pursue us, for sin always brings forth death.

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.  (Matt. 7:21-23)

Have you escaped the pollutions of the world through knowing Jesus Christ, only to become entangled therein again? Have you known the way of righteousness only to turn from the holy commandment? Are you a worker of iniquity that must be barred from entering the kingdom of heaven?  Unless you repent, you would have been better off having never known Him! (2 Pet. 2:20-22)  For we will be judged according to what we did with what we were given, and the one who knew his Master’s will and did not do it will be beaten with many stripes, as opposed to the few stripes that will punish the ignorant (Luke 12:47-48).

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jam. 1:22)

God bless you.

Posted in Apostasy, Backslider, Judgment of God, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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