Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Righteousness of the Saints, Part 2 of 2

Matthew 5:19 also hints at our answer. There will be genuine believers saved by God’s grace in Heaven, but they shall be least. Leaders who teach their disciples that obedience is not synonymous with faith are of this type; that teach men to break God’s commandments. James tells us such faith is dead, having no works; that is, a life of faith where said faith NEVER manifests in humble obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit as He expounds Scripture to us.

When we understand Scripture (mental assent) we must apply this Scripture to our lives in obedience; faith demonstrated in daily life can be summed up in a single word: obedience. Faith that never produces the fruit of the Spirit—while perhaps still genuine—can likewise be summed up: rebellion. Such a Christian dishonors God and makes a mockery of his confession. Such a believer is spiritually impotent and incapable of being used by God for even the most menial tasks. We must cleanse ourselves of this rebellion, this spiritual lethargy, if we truly wish to please God and bear fruit; to be a vessel for honor, 2nd Timothy 2:21.

There is a parable Jesus taught that gives us a glimpse to the condition of the ones who shall lose their reward and be named least. It is a condition that is sadly inherent in all of us, which is why humble submission to God’s will as revealed in Scripture is so vital. The parable says:

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” Luke 14:7-11.

We err when we exalt ourselves. No matter the good we have done: how noble, how grand, how generous or helpful or self-sacrificing; if it was done in the flesh to gratify the flesh and to garner notice this is not bearing the fruit of the Spirit, but producing the works of the flesh. Here we have a man who built upon the wrong foundation. Self-exaltation is another term for pride. Do we serve God to honor Him, or to improve our image? There are two ways a Christian may build; one leads to terrible loss:

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire,” 1st Corinthians 3:11-15.

Note that Paul, inspired and authorized by the Spirit of Christ to speak these things to us as an apostle, goes out of his way to inform us that a believer may lose all his works and will still be saved. The righteous acts of the saints which ought to adorn every one of us, at least to some small extent, may be wholly missing in some of the saints. This criterion is not what separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. All Christians are wheat; all Christians are given the same wage, so to speak: eternal life. Not all Christians trade with their talents as they ought to, however. Some build temporal kingdoms that are destined to be burned, as fire tries all things, and as fire will eventually destroy this present creation. This is an indication of the types of works that will not abide Christ’s judgment seat: anything that is an earthly treasure, anything that is a carnal and worldly ambition.

Do we covet reward? Then serve God with humility and love. Honor the written word of God as our sole and adequate authority on this earth, and the Holy Spirit as the only One truly capable of properly expounding this truth to us; either as we read the Bible or as He speaks to us through godly teachers that He raises up to feed the flock. In this case, a teacher is always given the litmus test of faithfulness to Scripture (myself included; never simply take my word for anything, but search the Scriptures to determine whether or not I speak the truth).

If the teacher’s doctrine AND conduct (daily life) agree with the Bible they are Spirit-led men. If they reject and repudiate the Bible, or assent mentally with what they deny by actions and daily living, we should disfellowship with such if they are unwilling to change, until they are brought back to a right relationship with their Lord. If anyone questions that assessment, our Lord spoke much the same when He instructed the apostles regarding erring brethren in the church, Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians chapter 5; Titus 3:10-11.

1 comment:

  1. So many have no concept of the difference between works and fruit. The fruit is what God produces in us, while works are what we do ourselves. It is the fruit that demonstrates the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, not the actions we take.

    Good post.


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