Thursday, April 15, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life

Revised from 7/12/09 “Deceiving and Being Deceived.”
Greetings,This letter is addressed to those of opposing faiths, who reverence Jesus Christ, but have sadly and profoundly strayed in doctrine, stepping into gross error about the Person of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This letter is written out of love for such people, oft-times honest, diligent, earnest seekers of truth and salvation. I pray the Holy Spirit will bring the light of convicting truth about our blessed Savior, His mission and ministry into clarity for everyone's sake. I encourage you to be a Berean, and to search the Scriptures for the truth. Hell is no place for you, or me, or anyone, not while there is an open door through the mercy of our Father, by the blood of Jesus Christ! Find the narrow gate, and the road which leads to life, which is Christ alone.

To begin, we should define the key words of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Paul says salvation is by grace through faith, and that it is a gift from God. The “it” in verse 8 needs definition. God desires all men to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, 1st Timothy 2:4; 2nd Peter 3:9. Instead, we find the definition in Romans. Romans 6:23 states, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Salvation is the “it” referred to in Ephesians, being a gift from God.

What does one do with a gift? You give it to someone. What does the recipient do with a gift? They merely receive it. It would be insulting to attempt to earn the gift, or recompense the person who gave it to you. Paul put it differently in Romans, saying, “And if by grace then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, then it is no longer grace, otherwise work is no longer work,” Romans 11:6. If our effort is involved in salvation’s process then it is no longer grace as the Bible defines it. One can’t merit or pay for grace, or else it would no longer be grace, but debt or wages. The same principle is applied to a gift: you accept it or reject it, but you do not pay for it, or else it is no longer a gift but a transaction. Elsewhere we read, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified,” Galatians 2:16.

By God’s grace through faith, He declares us justified from our sins when we place our faith in Jesus Christ alone, knowing that Jesus satisfied the Father’s justice (see Hebrews 1:3). Justification is salvation; that is, salvation from the penalty of sin. We shall no longer be tried for our sins, since Jesus died to pay for our sin, which is what occurs when we place our faith in Him alone as our Savior: we agree that Jesus made sufficient payment for sin on our behalf. The Father accepted this full payment; hence the fact of the resurrection. In John 3:18 we read, “He who believes in Him is not condemned.” Elsewhere we find, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life,” John 5:24. While the animal sacrifices offered by Israel were sufficient to cover past sins, they would never atone for all sins for all time, which was the primary reason they were perpetually offered. Contrast that with Christ’s offering of Himself once for all to God, finishing all payment for sin for all time, for all who believe, Hebrews 10:10-14.

In Titus 3:5, 7 we see, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” 2nd Timothy 1:9 states, “[God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ before time began.” God wants it made clear that nothing we could do will merit eternal life. Salvation is His to bestow on those who have faith in Jesus Christ. To be justified (saved from sin’s penalty) entails a certain outcome: eternal life. Did you know that the inspired writers use the words everlasting or eternal some 40 times in the New Testament to describe salvation? John says of the Father and the Son, “This is the true God and eternal life,” 1st John 5:20. And from John 10:28, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” The gift of eternal life is given by the Lord, and we are humble recipients of His mercy and love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.
To be continued.

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