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 Works versus Faith (Part 5) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 3)

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PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 5) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 3)   Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:58 pm

Works versus Faith (Part 5) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 3)

Continuing with studying verses that show that salvation is by faith alone, not works; therefore a Christian cannot lose his or her salvation: Philippians 3:3, Paul writes, “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ, and who put no confidence in the flesh.”  Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant to Abraham in Genesis 17.  This covenant states, “...I have made you [Abraham] a father of many nations.  I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.  I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you...” (Genesis 17:5b-7).  God commands Abraham to circumcise himself in Genesis 17:11.  Paul establishes in Romans 4:16 that this covenant regards a promise that comes by faith so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring.  Paul goes on to say that by faith in Christ, we Gentiles (all non-Jewish people) are Abraham’s descendants.  Circumcision therefore, is tied to faith and not the law.  Paul explicitly says this in Romans 2:28-29 which reads: “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”  

With that said, let’s look at Philippians 3:3.  Paul is talking to Gentile Christians.  At the time there were few Jews in the city of Philippi, as most occupants were Roman citizens.  Paul says “we” who are the circumcision worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh.  It profits a person nothing to put confidence in circumcision.  Paul is not just talking about circumcision either.  He says that we are to not put confidence in the flesh.  Let’s define the term “flesh.”  The flesh is the will of man, which is opposed to the will of God.  The flesh is man’s attempt to achieve something independently of God.  The flesh is concerned only with itself.  Its 3 favorite words are “me,” “myself,” and “I.”  The flesh says “feed me”; “make me feel good.”  The flesh is the opposite of the Spirit.  Note I capitalized the word Spirit.  Angels are spirits and there are fallen angels.  Fallen angels tempt human beings to sin against God through their flesh.  The flesh is your physical body which includes your skin, organs, bones, sinews, and brain.  You think with your brain, you touch with your skin what God says don’t touch, etc.  Your spirit, which was redeemed if you are a Christian, resides within your flesh.  The flesh is contaminated with sin and has not been redeemed.  As a side note, the New International Version often translates the word “flesh” as “sin nature.” This is a misnomer and should read as flesh in every instance, as it is the Greek word and not “sin nature.”  

So when Paul says to put no confidence in the flesh, he means that we are to not strive for anything independently of God, including achieving salvation.  Flesh refers the physical you.  Paul says to put no confidence in the physical you.  “No” means “absolutely none.”  Don’t trust the flesh at all!  The flesh cannot achieve salvation.  Not only was the flesh not redeemed, but the flesh does not have the power or ability to save you.  Moreover, the flesh opposes God’s will and it never submits to Him.  Paul says in Romans 8:9 that we are not controlled by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in us.  He says in Galatians 5:16 that a Christian does not have to sin as long as he or she lives by the Spirit.  Your spirit in you was redeemed by Jesus and made perfect.  You are a new creation, a righteous one, in Christ Jesus, but your flesh is and will be contaminated with sin until God raises up for us a new spiritual body.  

Since the flesh opposes God by nature, a person cannot become saved by effort.  The good that the flesh does is by nature contaminated with ungodly flaws.  On our best day the flesh falls short of the glory of God.  Sin is built into the flesh.  This is why in Philippians 3:9, Paul says, “...and being found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”  Did you catch that?  Effort cannot achieve salvation because effort is contaminated with sin.  But we have a righteousness, but it is not our righteousness that saves us, it is only Jesus Christ’ righteousness that saves us.  Anyone who believes that works has anything to do with salvation does not understand that it is only Jesus’ righteousness that saves a person and not a person’s own effort to do good things for God.  The only requirement for salvation is to have faith in Christ, which is the process of imputing His righteousness to your spirit, making you a righteous person in His eyes.  

Let’s look at a couple more passages on this issue.  Revelation 22:17 reads, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’  And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  The Spirit, of course, is the Holy Spirit.  The bible refers to Jesus Christ as the bridegroom and the Church as His bride.  So in this verse we have the Holy Spirit empowering the Church (us believers) to evangelize to the world and say, “Come!”  It goes on to command the one who hears and gets converted to also evangelize and say to others, “Come!”  This gospel that we are evangelizing is for whoever is thirsty, that is, whoever realizes their need for a relationship with God Almighty through Christ.  It is for whoever wishes.  Perhaps the best news is: it is a free gift.  This water of life that will nourish and refresh your soul is free!  And that is supposed to be our evangelizing message: that is, “Come and receive this free gospel of Christ who gifts you with eternal life without cost.”  This verse echoes Isaiah 55:1-2, which reads, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor [not by works] on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”  The plan of salvation by faith apart from works was God’s plan from the beginning, and predicted in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah.  We see from the next verse that this is not only referring to the New Covenant, but also to the salvation of our souls.  Verse 3 reads, “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”  And verse 7 says that God will “freely pardon” us of our wickedness.  

Verse 8 is the perfect transition from what he just said in verse 7 and the verses we just looked at.  Religion as defined by religions of the world has to do with how man needs to work to pay their own sin debt to God.  Man created religion.  God created Christianity.  Christianity is different from the religions of the world.  Christianity says that man does not have the ability or capacity to pay his own sin debt, but God paid it for him for free and all man has to do is to accept the free gift and not strive to work for what has been paid in full.  This contradicts all other religions of the world and stands as a dichotomy to them.  And so we come to verse 8: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD."  This verse is often quoted, but often out of its context.  The connection is clear.  Christianity is free.  That baffles people who do not understand how God can let people go to heaven without regard to their sin, and let people go to hell without regard to their sin, but only with regard to whether or not they believed in Jesus’ payment on the cross.  They say that is not fair!  God anticipated such objections long before you and I were born and responded beforehand, “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts.  And in fact, as high as the heavens are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  God is saying here, “You might not understand it, can argue against it, and say it is not fair and doesn't make sense, but I know more than you and this is the plan I had before I created the universe.  No man is capable of living perfectly, and that is my only standard, so I had to come down and do it for them.”

And P.S., since the topic of Isaiah 55 is clear, it should also be clear what the last few verses are referring to: that is, verses 12-13.  Since chapter 55 is talking about the free gift of eternal life through Jesus, it seems to me therefore, that verses 12-13 is talking about what Heaven is going to be like.  It is a peek into Heaven.


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Works versus Faith (Part 5) — Salvation by Faith Alone (Random Verses — Part 3)
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