Saturday, April 17, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life, Part 3

Suggesting human works as being plausible to attain or maintain salvation, places us firmly back in law/works, which the Bible forbids. Following the Ten Commandments was Israel’s attempt to attain their own righteousness, if you will. Yet what does God say? “What purpose does the Law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed (Jesus) should come to whom the promise (of the inheritance) was made…for if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Law. But Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those that believe…Therefore the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith,” Galatians 3:19, 21-22, 24. The Law was given to show us the nature of sin, and our inability to save ourselves; instead abandoning this futile hope and casting our faith and trust in God our Savior. The Law was a mirror which revealed how sinful we were; it could do nothing but condemn. Paul is clear that the Law could not save us or sustain us. Present day efforts to work for salvation are law/works. To teach otherwise is to sin against God, who freely pardons those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. It is rank unbelief.

Furthermore, we learn from David, “For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You,” 1st Chronicles 29:14. John the Baptist says, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from Heaven,” John 3:27. God Himself says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills,” Psalm 50:10. The tenor of the verses indicates that we own nothing. Nothing we give to God pleases Him of itself, because it was His to begin with. How does one then go about trying to work for salvation? It would be tantamount to trying to pay a debt they owed by stealing our creditor’s money and giving it back to them! Imagine handing them their own money, and saying that you settled a debt with them. The creditor would not only reject such a ludicrous attempt, but demand further recompense for your crime. “Who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” Job 41:11.

Error occurs when one overlooks the fact that Jesus is our Mediator, and what the nature of that role is. He stood in our stead on Calvary. He paid the full penalty for our sins. That is, sin committed in the past, sin being committed, and any sin we shall ever commit in the future. John 19:30 records Jesus saying, "It is finished!" What was finished? His payment for our sins; all of them. It does violence to Scripture to suggest that He only paid for the sins committed until one is saved. We have a fresh slate to begin racking up spiritual debt again? Who then is paying for sins believers commit daily after being born again? Is there then a Purgatory where we must suffer for our own sins? If Christ did not pay for all of our sins that we would ever commit, logic suggests that we are still accountable for them, even if we do not grossly sin. How do we pay for the infinite? A terrible misunderstanding has occurred at this point. This is a legitimate question that demands an answer.

Our Mediator must be equal to both parties. Being God (Philippians 2:6-8) He is equal to God and may represent Him; becoming Man (never ceasing to be God; John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14), He was now qualified to be our Advocate. God the Son suffered separation from the Father in those few hours on the cross when darkness covered the land and He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46. Here is the travail Isaiah described, Isaiah 53:11. Peter says He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, 1st Peter 2:24. God reminds us, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin,” Hebrews 10:17, 18. Religious activity will not commend one to God. Only shedding of blood for sin’s penalty suffices. Only Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God gave an acceptable sacrifice. What can man add? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved,” Romans 10:9. The Resurrection is God’s proof to us that we have eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. His payment was accepted on our behalf.

Only when we have placed faith in Christ and been justified, do we begin our walk with God: being sanctified. As salvation is a work of God alone, so too is sanctification. The indwelling Holy Spirit conforms us as we learn to obey and trust Him in our daily lives. He will teach us what God’s good and perfect will is, so we may be serviceable vessels, no longer trying to appease God to earn our place in Heaven. Instead we are walking in love, love for the God who saved us and made us His own. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (satisfactory payment) for our sins,” 1st John 3:10-11. We are presently saved from the penalty of sin. Sanctification is God’s work to save us from sin’s power in our daily lives. He purifies us, that we may be zealous for good works, Titus 2:14. But first must come the re-birth through faith alone (John 3:5), or else the apostle warns us that we are disqualified for every good work, Titus 1:16 Paul is straight forward about the gospel we have received, by which we stand, and by which we are saved: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1st Corinthians 15:3-4. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17; but unless hearing is mingled with faith (that you believe the truth of the gospel) it will profit the hearer nothing, Hebrews 4:2.
To be Continued

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