Sunday, May 9, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life, Part 8

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ made us free, and do not be entangled again in a yoke of bondage…every man who becomes circumcised…he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace,” Galatians 5:1, 3, 4. Here Paul contrasts salvation by works and grace. Are you justified by the works of the law? Or are you saved by faith in Christ alone? If you attempt the former then Christ is of no use to you. Your faith is in your efforts, not Jesus’ Person and finished work. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Mark 2:17. These righteous were the self-righteous, who wanted to be justified by what they did for God, not by grace. The sick recognized their need of a Savior and clung to Jesus. Likewise Paul tells the church of Galatia that Christ died to make us free from thinking these perverse thoughts (that a man could contribute to his own salvation). Don’t be tangled in that yoke of bondage, was his inspired counsel.
The Bible never disagrees with itself; it is the inspired, inerrant word of God. When one passage of Scripture appears to contradict, then it is our duty to search the Scriptures to learn from clearer statements and revelations, what the nature and meaning of the passage in question is, being led by the Holy Spirit who was given to lead us into all truth, John 16:13. He is the third member of the Godhead, and equally God, which is why Jesus commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19. Paul finishes an epistle with this farewell, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” 2nd Corinthians 13:14. "Communion" in the Greek means: fellowship, partnership, social intercourse. We can’t have fellowship or personal friendship with a non-entity. The Father is said to be Spirit (John 4:24); is He a non-entity? Angels (good and evil) are said to be spirits (Hebrews 1:14; Ephesians 6:12); are they non-entities? In Acts 5:3-4 we read, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…you have not lied to men but to God.” Peter could not have made a more direct inference had he tried; in fact the testimony is blatant. Peter warned Ananias that he was lying to God the Holy Spirit! To deny Him is to deny our adoption as children of God, for one must be led by the Spirit of God to be a son of God, Romans 8:14. The Holy Spirit is no power, influence, or created being, but very God of very God. He communicates and directs (Acts 10:19,20; 13:2; 1st Timothy 4:1; Revelation 14:13), inspires all Scripture (2nd Peter 1:21), can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), prays for us or intercedes for us (Romans 8:26), is credited with raising Jesus to life, (1st Peter 3:18; Romans 1:4), and dwells in a believer to lead them to truth and bear witness, since He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; Romans 8:16); by whom we are born again (John 3:5-8). Without Him we have no strength to accomplish anything, Zechariah 4:6. Paul writes that it is only through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit that we even have access to God, Ephesians 2:18. This was how our salvation was accomplished: “Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,” Hebrews 9:14. Salvation was the accomplishment of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without the Trinity we have no salvation. Andrew Murray wisely observed: “To learn a foreign language I get someone I know to teach me. The language of God is heavenly, spiritual, supernatural—altogether divine; only the Holy Spirit can teach me to understand it, to think God’s own thoughts. Let me take Him as my teacher,” from “The Holiest of All.”

Jude testifies of God’s steadfast character: “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, forever and ever. Amen,” Jude 1:24-25. God will not permit Heaven to be peopled with any man who can at least partially say, “I helped in my salvation, my hand had a part in my justification.” Boasting is excluded by the law of faith, Romans 3:27. Jude says plainly that God is able to keep us from falling. Now that we are saved by grace through faith will He cast us away because we are unworthy? Christ’s worth is what saved us, and reconciled us to the Father (see 2nd Corinthians 5:18), so now that we have been saved, will He allow us to fall away? “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1. Jesus obtained eternal redemption for us, Hebrews 9:12. Our redemption, or ransom price, was paid by Jesus. “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1st Peter 1:18-19. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1.

Paul explains this to the Galatians, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you, and want to pervert the gospel of Christ,” Galatians 1:6-7. Is your faith centered in Christ alone? This is the hope of the gospel which Paul preaches. We are to be grounded and steadfast, secure in the faith that Jesus Christ saves us. If one embraces a different gospel, then the result is receiving another Jesus and a false salvation. This makes the apostle marvel, and small wonder; the gospel is as simple as “believe and live” but man will not leave it alone. There will be those who think they are Christ’s, and they come before Him boasting of their merit and accomplishments yet His answer to them is decisive, “I never knew you, depart from Me,” Matthew 7:23. These were not saved, if Christ never knew them, because He informs us, “I know My sheep,” John 10:14. Again, “He knows those who trust in Him,” Nahum 1:7.

The implication is that these trusted in their works, not in Christ and His finished work alone. The Bible does not teach any type of self-effort; it teaches that there are some who will pervert the gospel through ignorance or deliberation, and be convinced they are serving God. Paul says to be steadfast, and not to be moved away from the hope of eternal salvation found in Christ alone, apart from works. Paul assures us that as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so too will he try to lead people away from the simplicity found in Jesus Christ, and present “another Jesus,” 2nd Corinthians 11:3-4. We are to serve no other gods (Exodus 20:3; 23:24; Deuteronomy 7:16); nor reverence angelic beings (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9).
To be Concluded.

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