“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which?…Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 19:16-23)
Hold on! Many fundamentalist Christians will holler that this is teaching that we are saved by works, and point to the passages clearly stating that we are saved by grace, not works.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Ro 4:2-8)
But if we keep on reading we find far too many other scriptures balancing what has become an “easy believism” religion of fire insurance after death with no evidence of spiritual regeneration changing one’s daily routine fulfilling the desires of the flesh. The concept that membership in the Kingdom of God is simply a “get out of jail free” card is absolutely antithetical to what scripture teaches.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” (Jam 2:14-24)
If we go back to the beginning of the doctrine of eternal security, AKA sure mercies of David, we find that the doctrine we are relying on unarguably teaches God does in fact bestow inheritance on the persons of his choosing, NOT on everyone who wants it.
“I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (II Sam 7:14-15)
The next passage referencing the sure mercies of David doesn’t treat this as a gift of God casually distributed like necklaces at a Mardi Gras parade.
There is effort, actions, one can even say work, involved in obtaining salvation. Just read how many action verbs are demanded of those who would get saved. At the very least seeking, repenting, and forsaking.
“Ho, every one that thirsteth,
- come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye,
- eat...Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?
- hearken diligently unto me,
- eat ye that which is good,
- let your soul delight itself in fatness.
- Incline your ear,
- come unto me:
- hear, and your soul shall live;
- Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,
- call ye upon him while he is near:
- Let the wicked forsake his way,
- the unrighteous man his thoughts:
- let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. (Isaiah 55:1-7)
Yes, salvation is a gift, but you can’t claim the free aspect of a gift without also acknowledging the aspect that the gift is given at the discretion of the giver to those of his choosing! In this case, salvation is a gift of God only given to those who prove they are entitled to it by their actions. Like a bonus at work, it’s not part of the wage, but it is only given to those who prove they are worthy of it. They won’t be granted as a gift to those who despise, wonder / question, refuse to believe.
“[Paul speaking] And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David…Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Act 13:32-41)
The works that are spelled out in scripture prove that one is born again into the Spirit hyperdimension. The New Birth doesn’t simply happen by believing in Creator God’s power to give life as proven by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. There is a growth and development of the Spirit of God merging with the seed of faith, just as there was with Mary’s pregnancy with Yeshua.
All too often, that seed aborts prior to full development and birth, detailed in Yeshua’s parable of the seed and the Sower.
But if it really happens there is evidence that one is controlled by the Holy Spirit by one’s
- repentance from evil / self centeredness
- Spirit control over previous destructive physical, mental and emotional obsessions and compulsions
- knowing / growing in relationship with Jesus which shows in
- a changed lifestyle paralleling his of obedience to the Father.
“There we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Hebrews 2-3)
“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
- And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law,
- but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
- That I may know / be merged with him,
- and the power of his resurrection,
- and the fellowship of his sufferings,
- being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:3-10)
Wow. Sure doesn’t sound like contemporary Christian churches with children’s playgrounds and team sports and above all else contemporary music.
But neither does this mean that if we sin or fail to live up to a certain standard we “lose our salvation.” Go back to the archetype, David. He committed murder and adultery, but he also repented and brought forth “works meet for repentance” when he accepted God’s chastening in his life. Despite suffering he remained submitted to God’s will, as described in the previous post. To claim salvation because you privately muttered a prayer during a church invitation then went out and continued living as before is to be one of the people of the lie of the devil.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (I Joh 1:5-10)
The reason salvation is not a matter of either faith or works, it is faith and works, should be obvious. Our actions – both righteous and unrighteous – demonstrate the reality or pretense of our trust in, and submission to, the Lord in obtaining his criteria of righteousness.
We should recognize God’s righteousness in relying on our behavior as proof! Unlike the infamous Dreyfus affair, in the day of judgment not even God makes himself the sole judge of our guilt or innocence. It is for our own protection that God relies on DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE of our adherence to the requirements for inclusion in his kingdom!
If we really take scripture seriously we should take stock of our behavior as children of Abraham. Are we acting like we are members of the household of faith, citizens with the saints? Are we in fact following in the footsteps of the man we claim is our father, leaving our pagan culture and way of life to serve the true and living God?
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath for them a city.” (Heb 11:8-16)
Or are we numbered among the backslidden children like Lot, content to simply denounce the evil around us without getting clear of it, and despite all his preaching losing his entire family to the wickedness of his society? Actions speak louder than words.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:23-31)
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)