Tag Archives: Works

Salvation through ignorance?

The other day I was on a message board reading a thread about the special needs people and sinning. More specifically, it was in regards to people with mental disorders/conditions and if they are sinning because they are unable to help it. I think one of the comments summed up the general consensus of that thread.

“If they don’t know what they’re doing, then it isn’t sin”

Though no scripture was quoted to back this up, I suspect they probably got it from Romans 7.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

I don’t think you can quite get to what that quote was saying from scripture, though. You see, if you follow the reasoning that if something isn’t sin if the person doesn’t understand that it’s sin, then there is no reason to ever for any reason to preach the Gospel to those who haven’t heard it. Why should we ever let anyone hear the gospel if they don’t know what they are doing is sin if they can be saved by lack of knowledge? I think it comes back to that age of accountability thing. If you claim children are saved until a certain age, then you have to explain why. And then if you have people who have mental deficiencies, you have to make allowances for them as well. They don’t know they are sinning so they are in fact sinless.

The road starts branching to many paths and as these paths branch off, Christ is needed less and less. We can ignore the command to preach to Gospel to all the world because now all the world doesn’t need it. They are saved in their dumbness.

This is not what the Gospel teaches. There is only one path to salvation. You’ll lack of understanding doesn’t make your sin any less sin. It’s still there. Roman 7 continues to show us that our sin is still there, even if we don’t know it.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

 

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‘I never knew you — depart from me’

Such a powerful and important blog post. Let it serve to us as a great reminder. May this be of benefit to those of us who stumble and forget.

Churchmouse Campanologist

Matthew HenryAlong with the instruction to build our spiritual houses upon rock, another passage in Matthew 7 from the Sermon on the Mount which bears close scrutiny is our Lord’s teaching on who will be turned away from the kingdom of heaven.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

It is in the three-year Lectionary. One can only wonder about the sermons preached on it. Any number of clergy — as well as congregants —…

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What’s in a good work?

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Often times, a good work is mistaken for doing something beyond one’s everyday vocation. Volunteering at the local food pantry. Giving blood. Clothing the poor. Feeding the hungry. Don’t get me wrong. These are certainly wonderful and good works and those who do them are doing great things which are not to be downplayed at all. But a good work isn’t necessarily these great things nor is it some great act of heroism or what have you. A good work is also the mundane. The boring everyday stuff we take for granted. The things that no one bats an eye at and no one ever notices until that work stops. A good work is often simply doing your vocation.

The mother who changes dirty diapers is doing a good work. The trash man who drives by your home every week and takes away your garbage is doing a good work. The hairstylist who keeps her customer looking professional for his job is doing a good work. The cashier who sits behind a register ringing in peoples groceries is doing a good work.

These all seem so mundane and insignificant, but if anyone of them were to stop what they were doing, someone’s life would be more difficult. Maybe not a lot, but a little. These are all good works that benefit and help people, even if they don’t recognize it.

I think this excerpt from another blog sums it up quite nicely.

So what is a good work in God’s sight?  Quite simply it is something that God has prepared in advance for us to do.  It is something that we have done out of faith and love for the Lord our God.  It is something that is pleasing to the Lord our God because it is something done according to his Word and his will. 

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Resolutions

The old year has passed and the new begun. As is tradition, many people make resolutions only to break them within weeks. I want to get in shape. I want to spend less money. I’ll spend more time reading the Bible. And the list goes on and on. I’ve never really been a fan of resolutions, mostly because I know deep down that I won’t carry them out. I can say I plan to spend more time in scripture and in prayer, but honestly, That will last what? A few days? Weeks maybe? And then I’ll go back to my routine. I have a friend who said to honestly ask God to change me and he would. I tried that for a while some years ago. It didn’t work out so hot. In fact, it left be bitter and resentful. Thankfully I eventually realized I can’t make God do my bidding and learned that that was absolutely for the best.

So, New Year’s resolutions are bunk and I can’t force God fix my flaws. Where does that leave me? It leaves me with faith. And faith is a wonderful thing to be left with. With faith, I no longer have to worry about relying on myself and the struggles of everyday life. I can rely on Christ. When I rely on Christ and not on myself, that is such a huge weight off my mind. With weight off my mind, I can let go of distractions that hinder me. Without distractions, I can do all those so called resolutions like they’re a normal everyday thing. Eating better, exercising, prayer, Bible study, etc, is no longer a chore but a blessing. To hell with resolutions, I have faith in Christ and I don’t need anything more than that.

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You can’t give your life to Jesus

You’ve probably heard someone say it before.  Perhaps it was at an altar call with, “If you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, then I want you to come up here and pray…”  Maybe it was a tract you found, “If you want to become a Christian, then pray this little prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for my sins.  I give my life to you that…'”  It may have even been a well-meaning friend, “If you would just give your life to Jesus…”

It sounds so right, doesn’t it.  I mean, clearly, I’m the only one holding me back from being saved.  But the thing is, that line of thinking has a major problem.  You see, it takes salvation away from Christ and puts it on something that you do.  It takes Christ’s gift and turns a work of your own doing into something that saves.  This line of thinking is in direct contradiction with scripture.  Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly spells this out for us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

If we had to give our life to Jesus, then it would be a work that we had to do, a work that we could boast of.  The good news is that you can’t give your life to Jesus and you can’t do it because he gave his life for you.  He did all the work for you, the only work that can save.  The work of living a perfectly sinless life and he still took the punishment you deserve.  Don’t try to find salvation by giving your life to Jesus; it’ll only lead to despair. Just know that Christ gives salvation and there is nothing you have to do.

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The damage of the altar call

The altar call is a relatively new development in Christianity. It was popularized by Billy Graham (the evangelist, not the wrestler). On its face it may seem like a good thing. You’ve all heard the preachers before, I’m sure. At the end of the sermon, they say something along the lines of, “If you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, why don’t you come up here and pray with us to ask Jesus into your heart.” Sure, it sounds sweet and like a noble gesture, but there’s really no biblical grounds for it. In fact, the altar call predicates that there is something you must do to be saved. You must invite him to save you. That actually diminishes the gospel. It essentially claims that Jesus can’t save you without your help. In a way, it’s a direct contradiction to scripture effectively denying that Jesus does it all for you.

So then, what does the altar call do to the body of Christ? My friends, it is my whole belief that the altar call can only bring despair when it brings anything at all. It cannot bring someone to faith. It may affirm someone’s faith that they already have, but never grant it. And for the rest it can only bring despair. In fact, the altar call is what nearly drove me away from Christianity. Dropping to my knees week after week of inviting Christ into my life, asking him to change me, and nothing happened. “If you are sincere,” they say, “he will change you.” Nope. Not true. I was totally sincere as were countless others. This cycle leads to despair, wondering what you are doing wrong. I learned that there was one thing I was doing wrong. I was believing there was something I had to do or something that I could do.

When I was on the verge of giving up Christianity and declaring it all bunk, someone shared with me a link to a new radio program that was just starting. From there, I learned the true gospel. I learned that there was nothing I could do. I learned that it was all Christ. And that was an enormous weight off of my shoulders. My friends, Christ has done it all. There is nothing you can do. Rejoice in that, because if you have to accept, invite, or do anything else for Jesus, then you’d fail and that’s not gospel at all.

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God doesn’t take bribes

Christianity an interesting thing when it comes to Salvation.  Unlike other religions, you can’t buy God off.  He’s not Allah with a set of scales weighing your deeds.  For example, if you kick your neighbor’s dog, you can’t do a bunch of nice things to tip the balance in your favor.  He won’t take your sacrifices as appeasement for your wrongs.  Sorry dude, God doesn’t care how much money your surrender or how many virgins you sacrifice (though Satan might if you’re living in a horror movie).  He doesn’t even want your first born like Moloch.  No, in Christianity, one single solitary sin pretty much condemns you and you can’t bribe God to let you off the hook.  So Jesus did it for you.  He took the punishment for your sins.  He did not sin.  He lived perfectly.  And as such, his sacrifice was the only sacrifice worthy of God’s forgiveness.  God doesn’t take bribes but he lets you off the hook for the sake of his Son, Jesus Christ.  He forgives you for your sins, not because you did anything at all to get that forgiveness, but because Jesus Christ acted as the substitutionary atonement that you could never provide.

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You can’t live the gospel

Sometimes I’ll hear Christians say that we need to live the gospel. To which my response is, “What?”  Seriously think about that for a moment.  Such a task is absurd.  You can’t do it.  It’s impossible.  Let’s take a look at what it would take to live the gospel.

First, you’d have to be born without sin.  I’m relatively sure that you all failed that.  Then, you have to live your life completely without sin, an even harder task than the first.  After that, you need to be sacrificed for everyone else’s sins. And finally, you have to come back from the dead (good luck with that) while simultaneously forgiving the sins of everyone who condemned you to die in the first place.  Assuming you actually made it to the resurrection part, you’re probably going to be just a wee bit vengeful upon your return what with the whole living perfectly and being executed because people are jerks part.

You can’t live the gospel, but that’s probably for the best.  The good news is that Jesus did live the gospel and not only that, he IS the gospel.  As I said, you can’t live the gospel, but you can go forth and make disciples, and that’s something Jesus actually commanded you to do.

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Undecision for Christ

There is a man whom I would consider to be a very good friend and a dear brother in Christ. When I met him, I didn’t know the first thing about Christianity. I mean, I had some vague ideas, but no real understanding. He helped me tremendously in understanding the faith. I can honestly say if it weren’t for him, I would not be a Christian today.

Now it’s many years later and we have very different understandings of scripture. We are still brothers in Christ, but we could never commune together. Our beliefs are too different. One of the beliefs that separates us is salvation. I believe that there is absolutely nothing we can do to be saved. Outside of Christ choosing us for salvation, we can do nothing. My friend on the other hand believes that we must choose to accept Christ’s gift of salvation, effectively leaving it in our hands.

So, how can I say that if it weren’t for him I would not be a Christian today if I believe I did not have a choice in the matter of Salvation. We can find the answer in 2 Timothy 2:9-10.

But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

I was elected for salvation, but faith comes through hearing. My friend spoke to me the Word and through the Word, Christ gave me forgiveness. This is how I can say if it were not for him, I would not be a Christian and at the same time claim that Christ first gave me forgiveness of sins and brought me to repentance through no action or choice of my own.

For those who are interested, here is a link to my friend’s blog. As stated, we have different understandings of scripture, but if what he has to say helps you with your faith as he has helped me, then I’m glad to share it. Do I believe in many ways he is in error? Yes. Do I believe he is heretical? Absolutely not. He is a dear brother in Christ.  Our salvation is not contingent on these differences. We both believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. We both believe he died on the cross for our sins. And we both believe that through Christ is the only means of salvation.

Thank you.

http://jesusisgod316.blogspot.com/

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Mark 8:36

Ever since I started to really dig into scripture, this verse has been my favorite.  And althought I’m an ESV guy,the KJV version of this verse it the one I like the best.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

 

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It’s a verse that I feel doesn’t require a whole lot of context to understand.  A verse that strikes at the very heart strings of man and plunges him head long towards the gospel.  Everytime I read this verse, I can’t help but feel a deep regret for every wretched sin that I have ever commited.  This is a verse that drops me quite literally to me knees in prayerful repentence.

Lord Jesus Christ, forgive this wretched sinner for all the evil in which he has done.  Bring him into repentence and lead him into your glory and righteousness.  We profit nothing by our own doing, but by your grace and mercy through your shed blood on the cross, we are deemed righteous though we we are unworthy of such a gift.  Amen.

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