Sunday, July 26, 2009

You Are Not Saved By Good Works...

I was having dinner today at MidValley's Manhattan Fish Market, and as usual during my makan time, I turned to the ODB of the day.

What was significant about 25th July's ODB is that it talks about Metanoeo (repentance/change your mind).

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The bible constantly speaks about repentance. But how we understand and define repentance, will result to the way we live our lives.

In the Old Covenant (that is by law), you do your best as a follower of Judaism to keep God's Commandments (with in total 613), do good, and should you at times fail, the Day of Atonement and the Sin Offering is present to save you. The Burnt offering (which often the Holy Spirit testifies in Scripture is a sweet smelling aroma) because the unblemishness (perfection) of the lamb is imparted to the believer - and that is a good will offering by the believer.

To summarise - your rightstanding (or righteousness) before God comes from WHAT YOU DO.

In the New Covenant, (that is by grace), Christ met the requirements of the law, nailing on the Cross - your sins and the requirements of the law. Christ took your sins (becoming your sin offering) and imparted His righteousness (becoming your burnt offering) and restored the broken fellowship between you and God (fellowship/drink offerings). What you attained was WHAT JESUS DID FOR YOU.

Your Righteousness comes from Jesus Christ - not something you earned, but was accredited to you (by grace) for your faith.


Hence, by one sacrifice, Jesus abolished the need of Good works as a requirement for salvation.
Question is - Why does a Christian serve today? And on what basis does he/she serves? (be it ministry, at home, at work, etc)

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So what is it that Paul is saying in Acts 26:20?
He is before King Agrippa, and Paul testifies the message he received from Jesus.

Acts 26:20 (Amplified Bible)
But made known openly first of all to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the whole land of Judea, and also among the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works and live lives consistent with and worthy of their repentance.

Paul is clear the message is FIRST for the Jews (in Damascus, Jerusalem and Judea).
Why?

Because the Jews' understanding of righteousness is that righteousness is earned through keeping the law...
Hence, they need the change of mind (repentance) from trying to attain it themselves, to finding it given through Christ.

That is why the author of Hebrews said in Hebrews 6:
Hebrews 6:1 (Amplified Bible)
THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God,

Repentance of Dead works AKA Dead Formalism - It means don't serve God to earn your righteousness, but serve God because you HAVE your righteousness...

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The problem is this:
Churches today teaches believer to work out your salvation in fear and trembling. Phi 2:12
As a result, a lot of people are serving to gain righteousness (or God's favour) or have NO CLUE why they are serving, OR are serving out of PEER PRESSURE.


Such thinking might also stem from self condemnation (searching acceptance with peers or God) or a false notion of inactivity (that you are not a good Christian if you don't get involved like the rest)

As a result, A LOT OF active servants backslide from the Ministry!!! WHY???
Isaiah 28:13
So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there—
so that they will go and fall backward,
be injured and snared and captured.

BLIND SERVICE will only cause a person to backslide...

A lot of what people receive (teaching) are not in line with the New covenant, but the Old one...
The reason why it happens is because of certain leaders who either do not know the truth, OR it was simply a tradition imparted to them, OR a lack of faith that God will sustain the ministry that He has promised to flourish...

It is clear New Wine cannot be put in Old Wineskins...
CHURCH PROGRESS is not synonymous with CHURCH ACTIVITY
You can be doing a lot, but going backwards...

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The Bible says in
Romans 8:15
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

What does Paul mean when he says this in Romans 5, yet seemingly contradict himself in Philippians 2?
Philippians 2:12
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

It makes more sense if you read Philippians 2:13, the continuation of vs 12!
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

The WORKING OUT of your salvation is in fact, what God is doing in your life. (And is clear, that you are merely acting it out)

Hebrews 10:27 says
but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

The bible is clear that fearful expectation of judgment are for the enemies of God!
Hence, Paul in Philippians make sense! God's Spirit's did not come to make you have "an expectation of judgment" but a sense of Sonship.

This GOES AGAINST every teaching in the Church that says the Holy Spirit is there to convict you of sin!
What the Holy Spirit convicts you are in fact:-
John 16:8-11
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[a] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

Convicts - Guilt, Righteousness and Judgment
Guilt & sin = because they do not believe in me (unbelievers)
Righteousness = because Jesus is going to the Father (to intercede for believers)
Judgment - Satan is now condemned (demons)

The Holy Spirit is here to convict believers of RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!

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Working out salvation in fear and trembling.
In fact, if you search the scripture for fear and trembling, you'll find:-
Mark 5:32-34
Why was the woman trembling with fear???
VS 33- knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

What was it that she knew?
She knew she found grace and healing through her faith!


The Christian serve because he knows he is made righteous.

That is why James said in
James 2:18
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Your good works is the expression of your faith!
That is why Paul said - Acts 26:20b
I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.


Change your mind from serving to gain God's favour and salvation to serving BECAUSE you know you're already saved and are deeply loved by God.

Serve because you know you are saved.
Serve because you know you are righteous.
Serve because you have faith.


Hallelujah!

3 comments:

Emanuel said...

The general epistle of James poses this question? “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” And the answer to the question is, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Now the question has to do with being saved, but the answer to the question has to do with being justified. Therefore the scripture concludes that whatever justifies a man is what saves a man, because justification is justification of life. “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” The scripture says, “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25) You see then how that by works the harlot Rahab was saved, and not by faith only. And why was she saved by works? Because her works were by faith!

Randy said...

Hi Emanuel,

I am not sure if you know exactly what you are quoting. It is easy to take one verse and assume what it says in itself without looking at other verses that accompany them.

In other words I can look at the sermon on the mount, and in the same way say that Jesus demands you to cut off your hand and gorge out your eyes that cause you to sin, yet NO CHURCH today would accept that as a right teaching. Hence, from your reply, too shows that you are taking one verse out of what it means.

James talks about having deeds and not just works in chapter 2. But in Chapter 1 of James, it says:

James 1:23-24
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

You must understand one thing. God has always emphasized one thing.

LISTENING.

From the bitter waters of Marah, God has already told His people

Exodus 15:26
He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

Listening comes before doing.
The church understands this today - because Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

That is why Jesus was so concerned about Mary and Martha. Martha was doing without listening. But the bible records Mary as listening intently at Jesus' feet.

The word listen in greek is Akouo.
Obedience in greek is Hup-Akouo which means to listen under.

It is NO SURPRISE then that true obedience comes through listening and having faith.

You must read James 2 in total.

Chapter 1 ends with James emphasising on the importance of listening.

It is then clear what James is talking. If anyone listens and has faith, and goes deep into God's word, that person will be blessed.

Chapter 2 then addresses favouritsm in the church. It links with the faith and deeds chapter because James wants to emphasise that the natural progression of a person of faith is the inevitable qualities which shines that faith. Hence the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is only possible because of the Holy Spirit.

James said - Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (v18)

The reason Abraham and Rahab was used because James used them to illustrate the kind of faith that bore fruit. It is not the kind of passive faith that believes but does nothing, but it is the kind of faith that grows and shows.

How then do you know a person has faith except that it is seen in deeds?

On Justification, however, the bible says more than just in James 2. Hence to use ONLY James 2 as the whole Christian doctrine on justification is unacceptable.

Other verses also speak on Justification:
Acts 13:39 - those who believe are justified

Romans 3:24 - we are FREELY justified by His grace that came through Jesus

Romans 3:28 - a man is justified by faith and not by law

Romans 4:2 - Concludes that Abraham was not justified by works

Romans 5:1 - we are justified through faith

Romans 5:9 - we are justified by his blood

Romans 10:10 - This shows a faith and result

1 Corinthians 6:11 - we are justified in Christ and the Spirit

Galatians 2:16 - we are justified by faith in Jesus. No form of observation can be justified.

Galatians 3:11 - The righteous will live by faith

Galatians 3:24 - we are justified by faith.

Galatians 5:4 - those who try to be justified by law (observance) are fallen from grace

Titus 3:7 - We are justified by grace

Randy said...

Emanuel, I cannot but look at your response and think that you have overlooked many other verses that are key.

I challenge you to not just accept my arguments here, but to turn to the reference I've given and see for yourself the truth that the Lord has showed me. May You be blessed with understanding. Cheers!