Thursday, February 26, 2015
What Can I Make the Bible Say? Works Salvation Conclusion
I will touch one final time on the topic of works salvation or conditional security before moving on. I grant that there are a few more choice passages that seem, when taken in isolation, to teach something contrary to the overall tenor of what Scripture teaches. I shall mention a few more verses or passages, such as Hebrews 6:4-9 or Revelation chapters 2 and 3; but I have spent a good deal of time already in former posts treating on these passages.
I will include links for these if you want to read for yourself. In summary, Scripture does not support the concept of an eternal salvation that can be ether purchased or retained by human effort. If an argument is raised that the Old Testament teaches salvation by means of strict adherence to the Mosaic Law I would respectfully ask that the reader consider the nature of the salvation spoken of.
In the Psalm we read: “Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth,” Psalm 34:12-16.
This resonates with that famous passage in Leviticus, chapter 26. It begins with “if you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments and perform them, then I will give you…” verses 3-4. What follows in verses 4-13 is a testimony from the Lord about the earthly blessing Israel would receive for adhering to the old covenant and obeying the law given to their nation, and their nation alone. Verse 14 continues: “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant…” What follows is a terrifying warning to God’s earthly people as to what would befall them due to disobedience. This was not God trying to horrify them; this was a loving God warning them in graphic detail what the cost would be of entering into a covenant with Yahweh, and the consequences of breaking that covenant. The promise was of earthly blessing for the Jews if obedience was maintained: “You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open up the windows of heaven and pour out on you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it,” Malachi 3:9-10.
From the giving of the Law in Exodus 20, to the concluding words of Israel’s last OT prophet Malachi (not including John the Baptist) works of this nature are for earthly blessing, and the promise was given ethnically or geographically to the nation of Israel, the people known as the Jews. Jeremiah is inspired to write: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah—not according to the covenant to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the hand of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord,” Jeremiah 31:31-32. Note here how the prophet, moved by the Holy Spirit, speaks of Israel and Judah as one people whose forefathers covenanted with Yahweh, and would be unified through a new, future covenant in days to come. I press this point simply to demonstrate that the Law was uniquely Israel’s to own, and the earthly blessing promised in the OT was their reward for obedience. “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord,” Leviticus 18:5. This mention of life is linked to PHYSICAL life or deliverance from death: the penalty for breaking God’s Law given through Moses.
Bringing this concept to light by way of the New Testament we read: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross,” Colossians 2:13-14. Paul words it even more clearly elsewhere: “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two (Jew and Gentile), thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body (the newly established church) through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity,” Ephesians 2:15-16. Christ fulfilled the Law and its requirements and therefore was able to remove this hindrance to us, because the Law and its requirements were contrary to us. The Law was only capable of condemnation, for it is holy while we are carnal, Romans 7:12, 14. Christ removed the law so that we are justified not by its works (or any other works) but by Christ Himself, who has done the work of redemption for us, 1st Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:12. As Peter stated regarded Christians and works: “Now therefore why do you test God by putting a yoke on the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Acts 15:10. A step toward attempting to earn salvation or keep it by works is a step back toward the impossible task of earning the infinite cost of salvation; something our Lord already paid the price for.
So much more can be said regarding this topic that I cannot possibly hope to exhaust it presently. I trust the Lord will lead each of us to a clear understanding of Cavalry and the sacrifice accomplished there, and how this should be the central theme of our life and faith. Salvation was accomplished for us, so being reborn we need not be concerned any longer for our own eternal safety as it were, but can go out with confidence (in the Holy Spirit) to preach the gospel to all the world; an extroverted view that is Christ like instead of an introverted view that is always worried about self and how we can help it. Self or Christ is savior: decide which one saves indeed and we shall recognize where our faith truly lies.