Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cut & Paste, Part 1

Where do Biblical exegetes go so wrong in dividing God’s word? This is a serious question that has haunted godly men and women through the centuries, and one that no commentator of Scripture can rightly escape, since everyone one of us is at some point guilty of error. There are innumerable doctrinal errors the writer can bring into Scripture through ignorance, bias, misinformation, poor study, lack of prayer, preconceived ideas, etc.

But the goal of God’s word when properly studied is to conform our thinking to God’s so as to better understand His word. This can only be accomplished through the agency of the Holy Spirit, and can only be realized when exegetes can admit that they can and do err; and are then willing to correct that error when it is pointed out. Here we enter interesting territory since more than a few who read these words will likely disagree with the errors I have observed during my time studying God’s word.

One grievous error is this: salvation couples faith and works. In other words, salvation is working faithfully to achieve eternal life, which God offers apparently only to those who serve Him. As one proponent of this theology said to me: “Where does it say that faith alone saves?” My answer is this: where doesn’t it say that faith alone saves? But if we seek a less ambiguous and combative response, one that hopefully edifies, let us allow Scripture to answer.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith,” Romans 1:16-17.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Romans 3:28.

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,” Romans 4:4-6.

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law,” Romans 9:30-32.

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” Romans 11:5-6.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” Galatians 2:16.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:24-26.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2nd Timothy 1:8-9.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” Titus 3:4-5.

These ten passages of Scripture could be amplified many times over. Consider how many times in the gospels Jesus told those who came to Him with various afflictions “Your faith has made you well,” or “Your faith has saved you.” The emphasis was never on what man was doing, but rather on who men chose to believe in. Trust in God resulted in salvation; in the cases referred to above it was often physical salvation from sickness. But God was proving that if He was totally competent to deliver men out of physical bondage through faith in Him, He was also an adequate Savior in the spiritual realm. Jesus our Lord told us that the “work” God wishes us to do was to believe on Him (Jesus) whom God sent, John 6:29. Anyone who believed on Jesus would never perish according to our Lord’s word on the matter, John 3:16-18; 3:36; 5:24; 6:37, 40, 47; 8:24; 10:27-29, etc.

The issue of works salvation is coupled with the doctrine of falling away. The two go inescapably hand in hand. Falling away is, at the end of the day, watered down Romanism. One’s perseverance, not Christ’s sacrifice, will be what brings such a believer to Heaven and to God. The Roman Catholic works to ATTAIN salvation; the Christian who preaches falling away works to RETAIN salvation. Either way one cannot say with confidence that they are saved; for if you had eternal life (what the Bible refers to as salvation) then falling away would be a non-issue: what is eternal can never be lost or taken, Romans 11:29. In both cases (Romanism and falling away) there is an unhealthy confidence of trust in what we can do, and a terrible betrayal of trust in what God says He has done for us.

1 comment:

  1. A major problem that we base our entire belief on a single verse or passage and refuse to modify our position to fit other scripture. Instead, we try to force other scripture to fit our position because we can't bear to be wrong.

    Great post.


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