Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rescued by Grace and Not Works

Paul is translated as saying we are "saved by grace and not works". Yet Paul and the other Apostles go on to preach that believers should keep the commandments, care for widows and the fatherless, preach the gospel, be water baptized, and endure to the end. They also speak about how we will be judged and rewarded by our works in the future (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:20;28, Gal 2:16).

The thing here is how Evangelicals interpret "saved". Many evangelicals use this word to not only refer to a past event that proceeds to the present but that also proceeds forward eternally into the future. And this is where the grace and works argument comes in. Because if we interpret "saved" as referring to a future salvation than the teaching that future salvation by grace seems to contradict the future judgement and reward by works (that Christ does in us and through us).

But I realized today that the tense (passive perfect) and meaning of the word "saved" has changed dramatically. And to illustrate what I mean requires substituting the appropriate synonym "rescued" for "saved". Now read Paul and see if everything falls into place. "we are rescued by grace and not works." Using "rescued" in place of "saved" eliminates the tendency to want to extend the past event associated with our being born again by grace too far into the future such that it interferes with the teaching that we will be judged and rewarded according to the works we allow Christ to do in us.

So what does being "rescued by grace and not works" mean? Being rescued by grace is referring to our justification in Christ and means that when we were born in this world all of us due to the fallen nature of this world and the corruptible nature of the flesh are incapable of taking even one step towards God. Therefore, without the grace alone of Christ stretching out to rescue us, we would all have been doomed to becomes eternal servants of the devil. Nothing we could do on our own could change this. But because of the great mercy of God, He has reached out to snatch each one of us from the Jaws of Hell. Christ has knocked on our closed door and some of us have been blessed to recognize the knock of the Master and open our souls up to Him. Upon inviting Christ into out lives, Christs righteousness has been imputed to us so that the Holy Ghost can dwell with us. Now that we can enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost by the Justification of Christ, the transformative power of the Holy Ghost promises to further change and sanctify us, and empower us to good works.

But we still sin. Why after feeling the love of Christ could we possibly turn to sin again? How could sin entice us at all after experiencing Christs love? The problem is that we forget. So God has given us many gifts or works through his church to help us remember Christ. So as we receive and allow the gifts and works of God, we experience the Holy Ghost and love of Christ stronger, we remember His love, and we are sanctified and strengthened against sin such that we lose desire for sin and gain a greater desire for righteousness.

And through these gifts and good works, covenants and ordinances and service to God and our fellow man that we are empowered to receive, they become a manifestation of Christs grace working in us and will be the basis for our future reward when we stand before God to be judged. But had Christ not "rescued" us in the first place, we could have done nothing on our own to draw closer to Christ and escape our fallen and lost state. But once the Father has drawn us to Christ, and we have received the Holy Ghost, we must allow the transformative power of the Holy Ghost to change, sanctify and perfect us.

John 6:37-40 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Some Evangelicals believe the Bible teaches that it is impossible to fall from grace. Yet Some do not understand that while Christ promised to rescue us (justification), we must allow the remodeling process that must follow (sanctification). However, these same Evangelicals interpret the process of sanctification to be an effortless process that Christ will automatically bring about in the justified individual. However Christ taught that while some people start off okay, many will turn away later. Remember the parable of the sower (Matt 13:3-23). Seeds fell on good or rocky ground. Some seeds began to grow but didn't get root and were scorched by the sun. Others were choked by weeds. There wasn't anything wrong with the seeds. The only variable was the quality of soil. And it is the quality of our soil (our souls) that determines how much fruit if any is produced.

Matt 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Gen. 6: 3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man,

The Evangelical interpret of John 6:37-40 does not jive with the parable of the sower. Matt 13:2-23 says some receive the seed, but they do not develop root and they endure for a while but are offended and fall away. How do we then rectify these two scriptures? Maybe seeing Christ and believing on Him means more than the Evangelical verbal confession. Remember that Christ said only those who will not be lost are those who 1. see the Son, and then 2. have faith in Him. While the verbal confession is how the seed of faith is planted. Works are how God demonstrates his grace and power in us. Therefore, works are how Christ manifests himself to us and we see Christ in us. Also, works are how we manifest our living faith towards Christ. Accordingly, works are the process by which the gospel seed of faith takes root.

Q. Why does sin nature still remain after Justification and acceptance of Christ?
A. Appetites of the Flesh and temptations of Satan

Q. How could you sin after tasting the love of Christ?
A. You Forget

Q. How do you remember Christ and continually experience the manifestation of the Holy Ghost?
A. Works

Q. Will it be possible to sin in heaven?
A. Yes, Satan did it without a body. And despite having incorruptible flesh after the resurrection at the end of the Millennium there will be resurrected beings who will fight with with Satan in one final conflict. So, being resurrected does not guarantee sinlessness.

Q. Does Christ have the power to overcome your flesh, sin nature, and sanctify you in this world before the end of the Millennium?
A. Yes.

Titus 2: 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

1 Jn. 4: 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Q. Therefore, must you allow Christ to sanctify you before you stand before God to be judged?
A. Yes.

1 Cor. 6: 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God

1 comment:

Mark D. said...

Of course we are saved *by* grace. One could work for all eternity and never be saved. That doesn't mean that work isn't necessary though.