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 Works versus Faith (Part 3) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 1)

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PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 3) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 1)   Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:45 pm

Works versus Faith (Part 3) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 1)

In the last post we went through the book of Saint John to study verses that prove that salvation is by faith alone and that Christians cannot lose their salvation by what they do or neglect to do.  In this post we will continue that same theme, but look at random verses outside of John.   1 Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”  God’s Spirit is the seed, who indwells every believer.  The spiritual seed that you received when you were born again is an imperishable one.  This is saying that you will live forever in Christ.  You were born again into a new life that will never die.  Non-Christians have not been born again and their seed is perishable.   Don’t misunderstand, they too will live forever, but they will forever live in death.  Death in the bible is the separation from the life of God.  A Christian by nature (their new nature, that is) is unable to die spiritually.  They have an imperishable seed.  

Let’s go back and look at 1 Peter 1:3 and 1:5.  I’ll quote verses 3-5 which reads as follows:
“[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, [5] who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Verse 3 tells us that salvation is free.  We do nothing but receive it through faith in Jesus Christ.  It says that He has given us new birth in His great mercy.   We receive salvation via God’s grace (see Ephesians 2:Cool Do I have to spell out Ephesians two:eight Geesh) and His mercy (1 Pet. 1:3).  “Grace” is God giving us what we do not deserve.  “Mercy” is God not giving us what we do deserve.  If we were to juxtapose a sinful person next to a holy perfect, righteous God, no matter who that person is, he or she really does not deserve salvation.   Mankind has no inherent worthiness for salvation.  Mankind, because of sin, and because of a perfect God, really deserves death.  The verdict from the Righteous Judge is guilty.  We have fallen short of God’s standard for righteousness.  Salvation or lack of has nothing to do with a good person versus a bad person.  Salvation or hell has everything to do with satisfying the righteous demands of a holy God.  The scale is man versus God, not man versus man.  Thankfully, God has provided a provision that allows undeserving man to receive the gift of salvation.  Salvation has to be a free gift because no one would be able to pay for it otherwise.  If it were not free no one would have it.  Verse 3 tells us that the Christian has been changed on the inside by a new birth.  The new Christian has been inwardly made righteous before God.  Their spirit receives a complete makeover the moment they receive Christ through faith.  Verse 3 also tells us that this entire process is free.  It is something He gives us, not something we earn.

Verse 5 adds to our findings.  It says that through our faith God shields us until a specific time in history.  We are shielded until the end time (even after you physically die) when Christ comes to give all Christians their new bodies.  Faith in Christ is what protects you and shields you.  No Christian should be worried about whether or not he or she is saved so as long as they have faith in Christ.  God says that that is all one needs to be shielded until the last day.  

We are going to look at 2 Peter 1:9 next.  Ironically, many people use 2 Peter 1:10 to try to prove that a person needs to do good works to be saved and could possibly lose his or her salvation.  But verse 9 shows that a carnal Christian, though carnal, is still a saved Christian.  Peter lists several good works previous to verse 9.  He mentions goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  Then he comes to verse 9 and says, “But if anyone does not have [these qualities], he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”  Peter raises the possibility of a Christian who does not have godliness or love, among the other things mentioned, and says that such a person, though carnal, has still been cleansed from his past sins though they are not considering that in their act of rebellion.  People who say that a Christian can lose his or her salvation believe that if a carnal Christian dies before repenting again that they would not be saved for Heaven.  This notion is not so.  A Christian can lack godliness, and even love (and we discuss 1 John later on) and still be cleansed from their sins.  

While we are here, let’s look at 2 Peter 1:5-7 because it gives an excellent biblical definition of faith and works.   2 Peter 1:5 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith...” Let’s stop there.  There are only 2 possibilities: there is faith and faith’s opposite, which is works.  It could either be faith or works.  It cannot be faith and works.  There is no such thing as a mixture of the two.  They can act in tandem, but for different purposes.  Faith is for salvation.  Works is for fellowship with God.  Both cannot be for salvation because Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”  Paul says that by adding one you would cancel the other.  Going back to 2 Peter 1:5, it says to make every effort to add to your faith...  So whatever we are going to add to faith is not faith, but works.  This is important because we now are able to qualify exactly what is meant by “works.”  What are works?  Is love a work?  Is love faith?  Is godliness a work or faith?  Is perseverance a work?  Whatever Peter lists next will all be works because we will be adding these things to the faith we already have.  He says to add to your faith goodness.  Now we see that goodness or doing good things is a work.  He says to add to goodness, knowledge.  So we see that learning Godly things is a work.  Studying your bible will not get you save because it is just a work.  Quoting your bible is a work.  He says to add to that self-control.  Being temperate is a work.  Breaking that drinking habit or controlling your cursing tongue are works.  He says to add to that perseverance.  Being patient while going through hardships, abuse, or trials are works when you are trusting in God to get you through them.  He says to add to your patience godliness.  Being Godly will not get a person saved.  Godliness is a work.  This includes praying, tithing, going to church, giving to charity, and striving to be like Christ.  None of these will save a person.  If these could save, Christ would have not had to die on the cross, we could just do these things instead.  He says to add to godliness brotherly kindness.  Another version says brotherly affection.  Being kind to other Christians and fellowshipping with them are works.  He says to add to that love.  Some Christians believe that love is a work necessary for salvation.  They get that by misinterpreting the book of 1 John, which we will later get to.  But we see that love is a work and therefore cannot save a person.  Love is not included with faith or salvation.   Works cannot save a person, and since love is a work it does not have the power to save.  A person without works is still saved for Heaven so as long as the person believes in the finished work of Jesus.  Therefore an unloving Christian is still a Christian.

I have to make another qualifying disclaimer.  Only a Christian can do what the bible calls works.  Only a Christian can do what the bible calls good works.  Giving to charity in and of itself is not a work.  It only becomes a work when the intention is tied to giving glory to Christ.  A work must be tied somehow to glorifying Christ in order for it to be a work.  So if a person is trying to do good things for selfish reasons to try to get praise from men, by their intentions, they cancel out the work and though they may receive praise from men, their work will never reach God’s recognition.  It is no longer a work.  It becomes a selfish deed.  You can turn a deed into a work simply by adjusting your motive.   It can be the same act, but if your motive is now to glorify Christ, you have turned your deed into a work for God.  

We are finished in the books of Peter for now.  Let’s look at a few more verses before concluding for the day.  Galatians 3:11 reads, “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” We have already said that works and faith are opposites that cancel out each other.  The law is a list of works and therefore the law and faith are also opposites that cancel out each other.  To have the law is to not live by faith and vice versa.  If you are relying on the law to get you saved, you won’t be saved.  For this reason, Christians will do well to start evangelizing to Catholics who ironically call themselves Christian, but they have a list of rules to do in order to attain Heaven.  Paul says that no one is justified by God by the law; rather, those who are righteous are righteous because they are living by their faith in Christ.  Paul is of course quoting Habakkuk 2:4, which implicitly predicts the coming Messiah.   The law does not have the power to save anyone.  The law is like a speed limit sign.  It tells us how fast to go up to before breaking the law, but it does not empower us to stay within those limits.  It only tells us the standard to live by.  The law is useful for showing us what God requires for perfection, but is not useful for making us perfect.  Only grace makes us perfect.  The verse just prior to this verse we are looking at reads, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’” The law brings a curse.  Faith in Christ brings life.  One of the commands in the law is to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19: 18).  We saw that love is a work that cannot save a person for Heaven.   The law shows us our sin.  Faith in Jesus Christ takes away our sin and makes us righteous by giving us a new nature, and Jesus fulfills the law for us who believe.  

We’ll conclude for today with Titus 3:5, perhaps one of the clearest verses that show that we are not saved based on things we do or neglect to do.  It reads, “...he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace...” This verse talks about our new selves in Christ: that is, our new nature.  But I just want to focus on the first part, which says, “he saved us, not because of the righteous things we do, but because of his mercy.”  God does not look at our righteous deeds when assigning us to Heaven.  Our deeds are not a criterion to get in.  It is only through our belief in the one who paid our sin debt that gets us into Heaven.  He looks only to see whether or not we trust Christ to get us to Heaven.  If it is not based on our righteous deeds then it is not based on our unrighteous deeds either.  God is not weighing righteousness versus unrighteousness on a scale to determine whether or not we are saved.  That is what other religions have God doing.  They have to work in order to win God over.  And they hope that their good deeds outweigh their bad.  They therefore never know whether or not they are saved.  Christianity is unique in that God becomes our righteousness and He makes us righteous as a free gift to those who simply accept that He did it for us.

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