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 Works versus Faith (Part 6) — Carnal Christians (Part 1)

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PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 6) — Carnal Christians (Part 1)    Sat Aug 22, 2015 12:07 am

Works versus Faith (Part 6) — Carnal Christians (Part 1)

Here is the plan: This post is going to take a different spin on the topic we have been discussing.  Next, I will go through certain parts of Romans because Romans is heavy stuff, but covers this topic well.  I am not sure how many posts regarding Romans will be necessary.  But after that, I will cover the other side.  I will address the verses that people use to argue the opposite of what I have been teaching.  These are verses people incorrectly interpret to try to prove that salvation is by works and therefore, one can lose his or her salvation at any time due to their sin and/or lack of works.  That’s the plan.  I don’t know how many posts that will be either.  

To change the leitmotif just a little, I am going to peruse the bible for verses regarding carnal Christians.  This is just a slight twist to our topic.  We are discussing that salvation is by faith alone apart from works, which naturally follows that a Christian cannot lose his or her salvation because of sin or because of lack of works since sin and works have nothing to do with salvation.  Well, to help prove this theory, let's look at what the bible has to say about carnal Christians.  The question is often raised, “Is a carnal Christian saved for Heaven?”  Or put another way, “Can a so-called Christian rebel against God and still be saved for Heaven?” But, what Christian or prophet in the bible did not rebel against God?  From a quick survey you should quickly recall Jonah who comically rebelled against God by running away from God and taking a boat voyage in the opposite direction of where God told him to go only to be swallowed up by a fish that God specially created for him to send him to where God initially told him to go.  We can go on and on with names of people who were carnal, and some even ended up in the Hall of Faith in the book of Hebrews, like Moses, Isaac, David, Samson (by the way, what good did Samson do?), Rahab (a prostitute), Abraham, Jacob (a trickster, and always bad), and even Noah ended up rebellious.  Yet these all ended up in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11.  The only ones that is difficult to find any sinful rebellion on in that list in Hebrews is Enoch and Joseph.  A close study of Genesis reveals that Joseph serves as an archetype of Jesus.  I could argue some points that reveals some sins of Joseph, but they are not significant (as us humans would deem “significant” on a human scale of justice).  

It is important to be reminded that a person does not go to Heaven because of how good he or she was; and, a person does not go to Hell based on how bad he or she was.  Nor is it based on how many works they accomplished or neglected to do.  Nor, is it based on, as some incorrectly believe, on any of the aforementioned, but on the state the person was in at the last moment just before he or she died.  Some incorrectly believe that if you have lived a life that tips the scale of righteousness just enough in your favor just before you die then you will be in Heaven, but if you committed some sort of flagrant sin (such as suicide, had an affair, a crime, etc.) just before you died without having the opportunity to repent, then you will be in Hell.   I actually agree that these incorrect views make sense and it seems these notions would be the case, but no matter how much sense it makes does not make it any right.  For salvation has nothing to do with tipping any scale of righteousness in your favor by your works or righteousness because God’s standard for Heaven is perfection and perfection is the only thing that can move the scale at all.  James said that if you break one commandment then you are guilty of breaking them all.  How odd (in man’s view).  Do you know what that means?  That means if you break the command to not lie by saying a white lie then by default you have broken the command to not murder another person even if you never committed such an act.  So God’s scale of righteousness for Heaven is either fully tipped to complete righteousness, or it is not budged at all and you remain in your sins.  Only Jesus Christ is able to move God’s scale of righteousness in your favor for Heaven.  You and I cannot budge that scale at all.  

Let’s look at some verses regarding carnal Christians.  I’m not sure how many posts I will need on carnal Christians either.  The first verse we will look at is Matthew 21:31.  It is Jesus’ response to a small parable he just told.  The parable is itself is not pertinent to our discussion, just Jesus’ response to His own parable: “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.’”  Here we see carnal people who, according to Jesus are entering the Kingdom of God because they believed (according to the next verse).  Verse 32 says, “For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did…” The way of righteousness is Jesus Christ whom John the Baptist tried to direct the people to believe in.  Heaven will be the home of many prostitutes and tax collectors.

1 John 2:1 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, you have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”  To be clear, I am in no way shape or form saying that it is okay to sin.  God hates sin.  He has always hated sin and always will.  It is because of sin that He sent His Son to die on the cross.  God does not fellowship with sin: that is, with anyone who sins.  In Galatians 2:17, Paul says, “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?”  And in Romans 6:1, Paul says, “What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”  In Romans 6:15, he says, “What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?”   In each instance, Paul answers his own rhetorical questions with an affirm “No!”  Sin always has consequences.  If you sin there will be consequences for your sin.  If you keep sinning you will lose fellowship with God and nothing will go right for you.  But with that said, assuming you are a Christian, you are still saved for Heaven because God does not judge your sin for access into Heaven.  And if you do sin, as 1 John 2:1 says, Jesus Christ is our advocate in the presence of the Father’s wrath against us.  Here we have Jesus advocating justification for a saved Christian who sinned.  Jesus only does this for Christians.  He is not an advocator of non-Christians—people who do not trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins.  

In 1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul says, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.”  The New Testament refers to Christians as “brothers”.  Moreover, Paul says that these people are “in Christ.”  So Paul is addressing saved Christians in this passage.  He goes on in verses 2 and 3: “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?”  So here we see Paul called saved Christians worldly.  We see from this passage alone (among the others I’ll point out) that it is possible to be saved for Heaven but still be living a worldly lifestyle.  

While we are in 1 Corinthians 3, verse 15 is another example.  Starting in verse 10, Paul warns that “each one should be careful how he builds.”  Paul is referring to works.  He says in verse 11, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  In this verse he is saying that whatever your work is, you can only do a legitimate work on the foundation of Jesus Christ for it to be a work.  Non-Christians can do good things such as charity, feeding the poor, etc., but their efforts are not considered works because they are not done on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  A work is an act that advances the Kingdom and glorifies Jesus Christ.  Verses 12-13 say, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.”  The common thing of these items is that they all have a different value and are listed from most costly to least.  They also all have a different volatile level from least flammable to most.  These items represent the different qualities of our works.  He says the Day will bring it to light.  The Day is the Day of Judgement for all Christians.  

The rest of verse 13 says, “It [your works] will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  Fire is not Hell, but God’s judgment.  Verse 14: “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.”  If gold is put in intense fire and pulled out of the fire, all of the gold will still be there.  If wood is put in fire, much would be burned up, but there will still be a remnant left over for a reward.  If hay or straw are put to the flames, all would be burned up with nothing left over.  Please note that this lifetime is the only opportunity we have for creating eternal rewards (or lack thereof).  Those with golden works are those who have lived this life other-centeredly and who do not hold money and self as their god.  Many Christians worship money and self and will have little to no rewards for eternity.  Verse 15 says, “If it [your works] is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”  Note that this verse is really saying that some Christians will be saved for Heaven without any works.  If works are required for salvation, these people don’t have any and yet it says that they are saved.  It is possible for a Christian to have no works and be saved for Heaven because works is not the criteria for Heaven.  Works is the criteria for your eternal rewards.  And if you want fellowship with the Lord in this lifetime and have His blessings upon you, works is required for that.  

Another verse about carnal Christians is Galatians 4:9, which reads, “But now that you know God [so those he is talking to are saved]—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?”  He who sins is a slave to sin.  But Romans 6:7 says that we have been set free from sin because we have died to sin.  Romans 6:11 says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  And Romans 6:14 says, “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”  Jesus took the power out of sin through the cross.  We however, are able to empower sin when we submit to it even though it no longer has reign over us.  The bible says that as Christians, we no longer have to submit to sin because we have been given power over it.  Nevertheless, many Christians are slaves to sin because they are rebelling against God and do not understand their new identity and position in Christ Jesus.  Heaven is not a place where people who have made themselves better go.  Heaven is a sanctuary of people who God redeemed freely in Christ Jesus without regards for their obedience to Him.  It is a place where God Himself perfects the people through Jesus Christ.  We (Christians) will be perfected, but this not from ourselves.


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