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?