Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)
There has been no subject discussed more since the beginning of time than that of salvation. No other subject has led to more confusion and differences of opinion. No other subject has caused more religious division and controversy. Even in the church there are misconceptions as to what is involved in one’s salvation.
The principle problem is in failing to understand the proper relationship of certain biblical concepts such as grace, faith and works. Martin Luther found it difficult to reconcile faith and works. In opposition to the Roman Catholic position of salvation based on a system of meritorious works, he went to the opposite extreme of advocating that man is saved by faith only. With this false concept he could not accept the book of James, which emphasizes the importance of works, as being inspired of God. Luther’s teachings, along with those of John Calvin, have greatly influenced the majority of the Protestant world even to this day.
The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:5, 8; Rom. 3:24). The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith (Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Gal. 3:24, 26). The Bible teaches that obedience is necessary for salvation (Heb. 5:8, 9; Matt. 7:21; 2 Thess. 1:8). To emphasize one of these to the exclusion of the others is to misunderstand God’s plan of redemption. All three have their place.
Another thing that has led to much confusion is a failure to recognize the difference between the works of the law (or a system based on meritorious works), and the obedience of faith. The Bible teaches that we are justified by works (Jam. 2:24). The Bible also teaches that we are not justified by works (Eph. 2:9; Rom. 4:5). Which of these passages presents the truth of the matter? Actually, all of them do. We must understand, however, what kind of works the writer had in mind. James was speaking of works of faith. Paul was referring to works of merit.
The above words are inter-related as they pertain to the salvation of soul. Let us observe the relationship of these eight words.
God and Man are related
God wants man to be saved and reaches down to him to provide his salvation (Rom. 5:8). Man realizes his hopeless, lost condition and reaches up to God for salvation (Rom. 7:24). How the two meet is the story of redemption, the theme of the Bible, and the hope of eternal life.
Grace and Faith are related
Grace is the act of God reaching down to man. Faith is the act of man reaching up to God. “For by grace are you saved though faith” (Eph. 2:8). “It is of faith that it might be by grace” (Rom. 4:16). Without faith, grace will not act; without grace, faith cannot act. Again Paul writes, “…we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Rom. 5:2).
Blood and Obedience are related
Christ’s blood was shed “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The sinner must repent and be baptised “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). “Christ washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Rev. 1:5). The sinner must “arise and be baptised” to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). We also observe that baptism is an act of obedience. This act of obedience is “into the death of Christ” (Rom. 6:3). The blood of Christ was shed when he died. Therefore, the obedience of baptism is into the blood of Christ. A few verses later the Roman Christians were reminded that freedom from sin resulted when they “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine” (Rom. 6:17, 18). The doctrine was the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The “form of doctrine” was death to sin, burial in water, and a resurrection to a new life (Rom. 6:4).
Pardon and Obedience are related
Pardon is provided by God and offered to sinful man. That pardon is accepted by man through his obedient faith.
Grace and Blood are inseparable
The blood of Christ is the only channel through which God’s grace is offered to man for the salvation of the soul. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6, 7). “Being justified freely by his grace…though faith in his blood…” (Rom. 3:24, 25).
Faith and Obedience are inseparable
The Bible speaks of the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Acts 6:7). “Faith without works [obedience] is dead” (Jam. 2:17, 20, 26). “By works [obedience] is faith made perfect [complete]” (Jam. 2:22).
Grace and Obedience are related
If grace and faith are related, and faith and obedience are inseparable, then grace is related to obedience. In Acts chapter eleven we read of grace being seen at Antioch. Verse 21 – “a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” Verse 22 – Barnabas is sent to Antioch. Verse 23 – “When he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad…” Can you see the grace of God? Is it tangible? No! However, you can see the result of the grace of God. Barnabas found Christians in Antioch…those who had believed and turned to the Lord. Grace is related to obedience.
Faith and Blood are related
If grace and faith are related, and grace and blood are inseparable, then faith and blood are related. Paul speaks of this relationship in Romans 3:25, “…whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…”.
The reader may observe that two simple statements can be made using the eight words before us:
1. A loving God extends His grace through the blood of Christ to provide pardon for our sins.
2. Sinful man through his obedient faith accepts the pardon provided for his sins.
Richard Harp, Enduring Words, Vol. 1, Issue 4, April 1982