Monday, August 29, 2016

Saved by Faith and/or Works, Part 2!



Last week I started a discussion on whether we are saved by faith or works. I encourage you to check it out if you haven't read it.  This has been an ongoing source of confusion for me, especially in light of what I've found in Scripture.  Before I continue, let me say that yes, I believe we are saved completely by faith in the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins. Nobody can earn their way to heaven. Yet.... the Scriptures I listed last week and these I will list below appear to tell a different story.

Mind you, God's Word will never contradict itself. Therefore, there must be another explanation for the extreme difference in the "saved only by faith" verses and all the others I have found. As I wrote in my prior post, I feel led to bring up this controversial topic out of fear that some people have been misled by our contemporary church into believing that a simple prayer of faith is all they need to do to get to heaven. I am not a legalist, but I cannot deny what Scripture says.

Here are just a few more Scriptures. 

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’  then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’  But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ Luke 13:24-27

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. John 15:6

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Galatians 5:19

 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:24  (Not sure you can get any clearer than that)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God;  Hebrews 12:14

And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Exodus 32:33.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life;  Rev 3:5

And my personal favorite. This is Jesus speaking
 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Revelation 3:16   

Why am I listing all these Scriptures?  To frighten you. No!! Never!  There is no fear in perfect love. I'm listing these verses because I rarely, if ever, hear them from the pulpit. People need to know that there is another side of the coin to God's grace and mercy. Yes, He is pure LOVE and full of Grace and Mercy and He loves all of us beyond measure. He more than proved that by sending His Only Son to suffer and die for us. To gain eternal life in heaven, ALL we have to do is REPENT of all our evil doings, RECEIVE the sacrifice of Jesus, and MAKE HIM OUR LORD.   So, there is something we must do. We must receive the gift and then we must live for Him.  

Yet so many preachers only mention the receiving part.  They may talk about repentance, but they fail to tell people that it means to not only ask forgiveness but to TURN AWAY from all the bad things you were doing.   The truth is, we are going to be accountable for our actions AFTER we receive Jesus. Did we live for Him, did we abide  in Him or did we live for ourselves and ignore Him?

It is my opinion after reading all these Scriptures from today and last Monday that it seems that if we purposely, willfully, and regularly live sinful lives after we received Jesus, we are not saved.  Does that mean we never sin? NO!  I don't actually think there's a day that goes by in which I do not commit some sin. The difference is that I quickly repent and ask God to help me overcome this particular area of weakness. In other words, I hate my sin and want desperately to change and get better. 

It's truly a matter of the heart. Again, God is not going to judge us on our works specifically. He's only going to judge our works as much as they reflect our heart attitude. Is Jesus Lord of our lives or isn't He?  Were the things we did motivated by our love for Him, our desire to please Him? Or were they motivated by a desire to please ourselves and look good to others?

Let's examine 2 men.

Man A calls himself a Christian. He attends church every week, runs an in home Bible study, gives money to the poor, supports missionaries, and even preaches the good news to others.  But at home, he's mean to his wife and kids, greedy, self-centered, angry, watches porn, has cheated on his wife, cheats on his taxes, back-stabs friends, and constantly lies. And although he asks God to forgive him now and then, he doesn't really mean it. He only wants a ticket into heaven

Man B also calls himself a Christian. He loves the Lord with all his heart and feels so unworthy to be called into the Kingdom. He attends church and loves the people of God and goes out of his way to help those in need. He reads his Bible everyday and spends quiet time with the Lord. He tells everyone he knows how much God loves them. He is meek and generous and his one desire is to please his Lord.  But he has a problem with two things: alcohol and lust.  He hates them both and has renounced them both, but every once and awhile he gets ensnared again. A pretty girl walks by, a tragedy happens, and he runs to the bottle. Each time, he falls to his knees and repents, sincerely repents. He wants to change more than anything and he clings to the Scriptures that promise God will help him and God will change him into the image of Jesus.  Truth be told, he notices he is changing.. slowly, but surely. Yet he still struggles. 

Which man is truly saved? 

 What are your thoughts? Do you agree, disagree? Where am I going wrong? Do you know people like Man A and Man B? 


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17 comments:

  1. Vicky Sydney AustraliaAugust 29, 2016 at 5:55 AM

    Man B is the one who is truly saved and MaryLu I agree with your post entirely, and yes we must truly repent and turn away from our sins not repeating them in Jesus strength, God knows our heart and He wants a heart that loves Him and wants to please Him and who, like you said, may sin but who asks the Holy Spirit to help him not sin again that way, who repents and turns away from that sin, and I find that the more I try and go God's way, not man's way, it becomes easier and easier. I don't think we should even watch movies that would offend God, I think that our whole lives should be "would Jesus want us to do this or that" "would Jesus want us to watch that movie, tell that joke, etc. etc. etc" it is a lifestyle that tries with all our heart to please God.

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    1. Amen, Vicky! I couldn't have said it better.

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  2. The problem you're stating, Marylu is plain simple: people have mistaken God's grace for a license to sin. But that's it, His love & kindness ( His grace) motivates us to turn away fronm our sins. If we say that God is grace and then we go about doing our own thing, without any conviction of sin, that is clear proof that we don't have the indwelling Holy Spirit ( that person is not saved), so he or she never knew the grace of God. Yes, salvation is by faith alone, because nothing that comes from man's fallen nature can be counted as worthy in the eyes of God. The good works that we are supposed to do reflect our new nature ( they don't save us, but they are a trademark of a changed life). This is where people got it mixed up. The American Church has leaned way too much on the "hyper grace" doctrine whereas churches here are full of legalism. Neither extreme is ok.
    To answer your question, man A is a self-righteous legalist, full of pride whereas man B is a Spirit-filled Christian. There's no doubt about it.Believers are going to give an account of their lives in front of Christ based on the work that God has apointed them ( their ministry). If we simply perform works out of the flesh, they will be burned up in that day.That's why it's important to pray for God's guidance and will for our lives. Live righteously & show ourselves approved.:)

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    1. Absolutely, Rose. "good works area trademark of a changed life" that's the key. Thanks

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  3. The two examples of men remind me of I Samuel 16:7 "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. Also, the New Testament parable about the Pharisee and Publican. The Pharisee spouting to God about how good he and his deeds were and the Publican not even able to lift his head and begging God for mercy.

    Yes, faith is what saves us, but as James says "Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works." If we truly are saved, our lives should reflect it. Only God can know our motives and our heart, but if they are aligned with Him they will produce actions that will be visible outwardly.

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    1. Yes... that's exactly what I'm trying to say. It's a heart issue. And only God knows the heart. We so often look only on the outside. Thanks, Amy!

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  4. Hi MaryLu!

    I can tell you with 100% confidence that we are saved by the gospel:

    1 Corinthians 15:1-11

    15 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast [a]the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

    3 For I delivered to you [b]as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to [c]James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as [d]to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, [e]and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.


    I can tell you with 100% confidence that we will be saved if we confess with our mouths Jesus as Lord, and that if we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead:

    Romans 10:5-13

    5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is [b]based on law shall live [c]by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness [d]based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 [e]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [f]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be [h]disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    You said: "It is my opinion after reading all these Scriptures from today and last Monday that it seems that if we purposely, willfully, and regularly live sinful lives after we received Jesus, we are not saved."

    In general, I agree however I think that it would helpful to take a look at 1 John in addition to those scriptures that you have listed, specifically 1 John 2.

    I John 2:1 - 6

    3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

    I can't say who is truly saved between Man A and Man B. Man A could be saved but be in disobedience. Man B could be a seed in rocky soil; he could fall away in a time of trouble.

    What I can say that is this: It is very important to assess our own hearts and motivations when trying to assess if someone is saved. Are we trying to decide how to treat them? Are we trying to lead them to Christ? Are we trying to figure out if WE are saved?


    P.S. Apologies for the formatting on the scripture!

    P.S.S I also posted this on Goodreads but am posting anonymously here because I haven't made an account!

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    1. Hi again!

      Just to clarify when I said: In general, I agree however I think that it would helpful to take a look at 1 John in addition to those scriptures that you have listed, specifically 1 John 2.

      I meant that I do agree HOWEVER there are scriptures that can provide better support to that statement SUCH AS 1 John 2.

      Another edit:

      I can't say who is truly saved between Man A and Man B. Man A could be saved but be in disobedience. Man B could be a seed in rocky soil; he could fall away in a time of trouble. I would need to know if either man could confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if he believed in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.

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    2. Me again! I keep walking away from my laptop and coming right back because something just doesn't seem right so:

      I can't say who is truly saved between Man A and Man B, and honestly I don't know if I even should.

      -Diamond

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    3. I think we are basically on the same page here. I know there are a bunch of Scriptures which say that we are saved by faith.. by a heart belief and a confession. Absolutely! But then I see the other Scriptures which talk about living sinful lives and I realize that, though salvation is a heart belief, there can also be a false belief whereby someone has merely a head belief and not a heart. In other words, they may think in their heads that Jesus is the Son of God, but they don't allow Him in their hearts. They don't receive the Holy Spirit and allow Him to change them. THere is a Scripture in James I neglected to post here... it goes something like "You believe? So what, even the demons believe and tremble."

      My point in comparing ManA and ManB was not to say that any of us have a right to guess is someone is saved. That's between them and God. My entire purpose of this post is to perhaps wake up some Christians who have bought into the hyper-grace theology going around whereby they believe that once they receive Jesus they can live however they want and there are no consequences.
      I appreciate the discussion! and all the Scriptures you posted. Thank you.

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  5. Hi MaryLu!

    Yes, I believe that we ARE in fact on the same page. It is true that we are saved BY grace THROUGH faith (From what I understand BY and THROUGH are almost interchangable, I just prefer to use what is used in my bible. I understand that other translations may use different words with similar meaning).

    Ephesians 2:1 - 10

    2 And you [a]were dead [b]in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the [c]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, [d]indulging the desires of the flesh and of the [e]mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead [f]in our transgressions, made us alive together [g]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.



    I believe that you are referring to James 2:19.I admit that I do not have the same level of understanding of this particular passage as I do about the other scriptures that I have posted. Is this what you were you trying to get at? That faith, when unaccompanied by works, is an indication of false faith?

    James 2:14-26

    14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [p]dead, being by itself.

    18 But someone [q]may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that [r]God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and [s]as a result of the works, faith was [t]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

    I have not heard of the hyper-grace theology, however I believe you. How, then, can we "wake up" those who believe that they can live however they want and that there will be no consequences?

    I have a friend who seems to fit this description. I have been sharing the gospel with her, and sending her scripture from time to time and of course praying. Is there more I can do? Open to your thoughts and suggestions!

    -Diamond (who will make an account at some point, maybe!)

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    1. Me again!

      My friend says she is a Christian, but appears to fit the hyper-grace theory, thus I am interested in "waking" her up.

      -Diamond

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    2. Ok! So I looked up hyper-grace:

      http://www.gotquestions.org/hyper-grace.html

      Is this what you were referring to?

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    3. Yes, Diamond, that is exactly what I'm referring to. How do we wake these people up? That's a good question. That's where the Holy Spirit steps in. We can't do anything without Him. The first thing I would do is pray for your friend, which I'm sure you do already. Next I would ask the Lord to give you the right words to say to that friend regarding their lifestyle... it must be done gently and in love, without condemnation.. yet it must be the truth of God's Word. I would show her what the Scriptures say. God's Word is very powerful, and combined with His Spirit, it can save souls. Most people who live sinful lives and believe in this hyper-grace will not like to hear the truth. They often resist and get angry. That's why it's best to come to them with a spirit of humility and love... expressing your concern for them and revealing the truth of God's Word. She may not accept it at first, but at least you've planted a seed. The rest is up to the Lord as you continue to pray. You seem to have a good grasp of Scripture so that will definitely help! Let me know if I can pray for your friend...

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    4. MaryLu!

      Thank you for your advice and encouragement! I will continue to pray for her and will also as the Lord Jesus to give me the right words to say as well as wisdom and discernment.

      Yes, I will show her what the Scriptures say! I currently send her Scriptures via text, but am open to the Lord's will if there is another way as well.

      Humility and love. Yes. You are right.

      I will certainly continue to pray and leave the rest to the Lord Jesus! Please pray for my friend as well!

      Thank you and may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you!

      -Diamond

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    5. One more thing, I found this video:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnWoVk-mbyY&list=WL&index=5

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  6. I hear your heart with this post. I completely understand where you are coming from wanting to understand the Father's love, heart and will for each of his children. I would pray a guarding around all of you that the spirit of religion does not drive you to performance. Having just come out of a terrible few years attached to the spirit of religion, please understand my deepest and truest concern. We are saved by grace through faith and our actions/works should point to our Father. In the example above, both men could be saved; however, the Father is Lord to one and Savior to another. We cannot judge the hearts of men and truly need the spirit of love to see our brothers/sisters through the light of Jesus' eyes. He>i! Blessings to all of you and may G-d's love, grace, mercy and justice propel you closer to him! (smooch!);)

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