A Decision of Destiny
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
In the last 4 lessons, in our step 2 to become a believer, we saw the wonders of God’s love by which He has removed all the barriers between Himself and man. However, the incredible thing is that God has accomplished a total provision of salvation for even those human beings Whom He knew would reject Him. God so loved the world that he gave His Son. John 3:16. It was not just for the part of the world that he knew would receive His salvation that He died. It was also for all those who would ridicule His name, ignore His salvation, despise His Word and reject His authority. Whether they want to be or not, the whole world have been made savable because of the death of Christ on the Cross. Nevertheless, being savable and being saved are 2 different things. The 4 great doctrines of Christ death in man’s behalf are for the whole world, but applicable only to those who draw upon it personally. Propitiation 1 John 2:2; redemption 1 Tim 2:5-6; substitutionary death Heb 2:9; reconciliation 2 Cor 5:19.
Putting The Cart Before The Horse
In light of the fact that the barriers have been removed from between God and man, God freely offers a new relationship with Himself. What must a man do to receive the results of this and have it be a reality in his own life? At no other point is it more important to distinguish between the means of coming into God’s salvation and the effects of it. It is of utmost importance that we don’t get the cart before the horse in the matter of how to appropriate all that Christ accomplished for us on the Cross. If we make something which the Bible calls a result of salvation, part of the means by which it is obtained, then we insert human merit into the picture of God’s redemptive plan. Human merit nullifies the whole concept of a free salvation.
Faith, Plus Works?
The Apostle Paul, knowing that all man have an insatiable self centeredness that makes them want to boast of their spiritual or moral prowess, wrote to the believers in Ephesians, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Eph 2:8-9. It is a real commentary of the nature of the human heart that at the very outset of Christianity, Paul has to admonish people that salvation is a free gift from God and there is no possible way to do anything to merit it or else human pride and boasting will come in.
Grace : God’s Riches At Christ Expense
Simply put, grace means to freely give something to someone which he can in no possible way deserve or merit or earn it. The minute there is even a shadow of hint of someone trying to merit or earn, then it is not grace any longer, Now, what is it that God has given to us that we can’t in any way merit? His love, forgiveness, righteousness, acceptance, mercy, redemption and eternal life. All of which are wrapped up in one package called salvation. This is what God has given us, if we will take it and it is given completely on the basis of grace. Grace is God’s part, however, faith is man’s. Our faith in what Jesus freely made available to us through His baptism and death by grace is what God credits to our account as righteousness. I put my faith in Jesus and he puts His righteousness into me.
Faith, Plus Repentance?
Anytime, anything is added to the one necessary ingredient of faith to receive God’s salvation, then we are in danger of getting the cart in front of the horse again. Some people put a big stress on repentance as a necessary condition for receiving reconciliation. To be sure, repentance is definitely involved in becoming a child of God but it must be carefully defined. In our zeal to get people to turn from their sinful ways and receive the Lord, we put repentance on par with believing. Such people define repentance as a deep sorrow over sin, usually evidenced by weeping and much emotion. This is a faulty understanding of the word repentance. It is certainly alright to have a deep emotional sorrow about having spent a life rejecting Christ, but that’s not all that is involved in repentance. Repentance simply means, turning around from one attitude to another which produces a change in direction. It is a word related to a reason rather than to our emotions, although whatever deeply affects our reason will also touch our emotions. Repentance relates to Christ that cause us to change our minds about Him, Who He is and what He has done to provide forgiveness and deliverance from our sins. When we place faith in Jesus as having taken our place personally by baptism and death and resurrection, then we are automatically repenting because we couldn’t accept Him in this way without having had to change our minds in some way concerning Him.
Faith, Plus the Lordship of Christ?
This is a very subtle form of human merit which some add to faith as a condition of salvation. For instance, who can say at this moment, no matter how long he has been a believer, that he has everything in his life under the Lordship of Jesus. As long as we are in this world with our unreformed sin natures and the Devil out there to get us, there is not much chance that we could be totally under Christ’s Lordship in every areas of our life. How then can we make an unbeliever responsible to do something as a condition of salvation that we are still not able to do?
Faith, Plus Baptism?
The adding of God ordained ritual to faith as a condition of salvation of God’s dealing with a man has been one of the most subtle errors. The issue of water baptism has been the most confusing as Jesus Himself commanded this ritual. Spiritual faith in one’s heart by identifying with Christ baptism, death and resurrection is indispensable for one’s salvation. The symbolic act of water baptism in public is merely the result of salvation and not cause of it. If we make the symbolic act of water baptism as a condition of being saved, then it becomes a work and act of human merit which nullifies pure grace that says that nothing is needed from man, but faith.
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