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The Cutting Edge Gospel: Faith December 7, 2013

Posted by Henry in The Cutting Edge Gospel.
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So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17

In order to repent one must first have faith in the saving Grace of God through Jesus Christ. This faith however comes when the gospel is preached and the word of God is heard.

Faith by definition is, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1).”

Though we cannot physically see the end of our life we believe in Christ’s death and resurrection that at the end of life we too will be resurrected to be with Him in glory if we abide in Him.

It is important to understand that before faith came there was the Law which acted as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ by the justification through faith (Gal 3:23-24). Does this mean that the Law is no longer important? Scripture tells us that without Law there is no sin so the purpose of the Law is to convict man of sin because sin was in the world before the Law came into being (Rom 5:13). The problem however is that one (except Christ) could keep the Law and as such no one could be justified by the Law (Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16). But thank our God that Jesus came to fulfill the Law so that the righteousness of the Law may be fulfilled in us who walk by faith in Him.

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom 8)

Related Posts:

The Cutting Edge Gospel: Repentance

The Cutting Edge Gospel: What is the Gospel

The Cutting Edge Gospel: Repentance March 13, 2013

Posted by Henry in The Cutting Edge Gospel.
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38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The gospel of repentance requires us to be remorseful or penitent of our past sins, turning to God and ask for His forgiveness and to seek to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ, recognizing that only His saving Grace can cleanse us from all our sins.

However, we can sometimes deceive ourselves that we do not need to repent of certain sins – these could be our “secret sins”. Sometimes we seek to justify the sins in our lives instead of repenting fully. Just to give a few examples: we want to follow Christ but at the same time we want to yield or succumb to the flesh to commit fornication and seek to justify it. We lust after the things of the flesh and of the eyes; covet our neighbors wife, husband, property secretly; tell little white lies and think it is ok; or refuse to forgive someone who did something to us in the past yet expecting God to forgive us our sins.

A call to repentance means that we must repent of ALL sins and stop deceiving ourselves.

The scriptures says:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. (Gal 6:7)

Sin cannot enter heaven.

9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6)

The Cutting Edge Gospel: What is the Gospel? March 11, 2013

Posted by Henry in The Cutting Edge Gospel.
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The Cutting Edge Gospel: What is the Gospel?

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 12:4)

What is the Gospel? The Gospel essentially is the good news of salvation first spoken of by the Old Testament prophets and which was delivered and fulfilled by our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel calls us to repent and to turn away from our sins so that in the fullness of time we will be saved from eternal damnation. In a world full of many voices and many messages even in the church, the Gospel can sometimes be hard to pin down precisely. However, Paul speaking to the Corinthian church summarizes the Gospel in the following verses of 1 Cor 15:

1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Since Christ died was buried and resurrected we too can one day be resurrected to eternal life if we believe this Gospel message, repent of our sins and live a life of faith in Jesus Christ.

The Law of Christ March 16, 2012

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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One of the things I have come to realise when engaging with other Christians is that they sometimes do not know with absolute certainty whether we are to follow or observe everything that the Bible teaches or not. If you are unsure about this matter then chances are you are also unsure about the Gospel.

All scriptures are profitable for doctrine and for reproof but likewise all scriptures should be read and taken in context. The truth is that one can take the very words of the Bible and deceive you with it and this is because not everything in it is required of the Christian to observe. For example, under the Mosaic Law an eye for an eye was endorsed. Should we as Christians today practice recompensing evil for evil? Absolutely not! But we look instead at what Christ says – He says for example, “love your enemies”; “do good to them that hate you”; bless them that persecute you and despitefully use you”; and so forth. So it is clear that we are not required to follow all that the Bible teaches otherwise we would be in confusion. Some teachers however, when they are teaching on a particular subject, like to place their words under the banner of, “The Bible Teaches” to give weight to their claims. As a result they are able to weave together teachings from both the Old and New Testaments (Covenants) under the same heading but this can result in deception if one is not careful. So then if we are not required to follow everything the Bible taught does this mean that God has changed, though scripture declares He changes not? No, but rather God purposed to change the law which He first instituted in Israel (Jer 31:31-33, Heb 8:8-11). The law was merely a shadow of what God had before ordained even from the beginning of time.

Today, and since the days of the early church, God’s law is no longer written upon tablets of stones but rather it is now written upon a believer’s heart. We must understand the point that the previous covenant was made with Israel alone and therefore those who were outside of the commonwealth of Israel could not benefit from it. God changed the law however so that we who were outside, cut off without a hope, can now be engrafted with Israel to inherit salvation (Rom 11:17). This is the reason why the law has changed and the Levitical priesthood made defunct. Christ’s priesthood now replaces the old priesthood and consequently the change in the priesthood necessitated a change in the law (Heb 7:12). So what is this new law in Christ? Here it is in black and white:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (Joh 13:34) KJV

Can it really be that simple? If you are still not convinced have a look at the following verses:

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Gal 5:14, also Matt 7:12) NIV

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:10, also Jam 2:8) NIV

By the grace of God we have been set free through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:20-24). We do not need to attempt to observe a single work of the law – not tithing, not first fruit giving, no sacrifices, offerings, circumcision, feast days, holy days – none of them. To attempt to do so is to fall from grace (Gal 5:4). Friends, know the truth and the truth shall set you free (Joh 8:32).

Tithing Not a Matter of Salvation! Is that so? March 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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There are those who consider extensive attention to the subject of tithing as a waste of time because it will not have any bearing on salvation. This may be true but may also be false depending on where you stand. Indeed there are some preachers who teach the church that they will NOT go to heaven if they don’t tithe. So what is the answer then – does tithing have a bearing on our salvation or not? This is the question I hope to explore in this blog entry.

I have already presented a number of articles on the subject of tithing under the Tithing category so I do not wish to reproduce what I already said in those entries here. The purpose of those posts was to scripturally establish the truth about tithing. However, there is an overarching point of those posts that many reading who simply read on the surface often miss. The point of those posts isn’t to divide people into camps of “anti-tithers” vs “pro-tithers” – I am NOT overtly concerned with how much one chooses to give to their church or the work of ministry. The overarching question however is this: Which gospel have you received and which Jesus have you had preached to you? Is it the gospel that says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us… (Gal 3:13)” OR is it the gospel that says you have not been redeemed from the curse of the law and you are required to continue to observe it?” After all, if we continue to preach that one MUST observe tithing are we not saying that one is still under the law? If one is still under the law are we not saying that Jesus did not die for the sins of the world? Can one not see that tithing when preached in this way can cause us to be caught betwixt two places – being that we are either redeemed from the curse of the law or if we are not redeemed then must we continue to do the works of the law?

In speaking to the Galatians, Paul admonished them to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal 5:1). The yoke of bondage here that Paul speaks of is the law. Lets look at what else Paul had to say about this in the following verses of Gal 5:

2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Gal 5:2-9)

We could substitute the word “circumcised” here for “tithing” and it would have the same meaning. In other words, if we seek to observe the tithing law (one part of the law), Christ will profit us nothing for if we tithe according to the law we have become a debtor to the whole law (meaning that we owe it to ourselves and to God to observe the whole law); as a result we have fallen from grace. Is this now not a matter of salvation? For if you have fallen from grace then you shall perish. Looking at verse 9 we note Paul’s warning that a “little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What this means is that this false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole dough.

In Gal 5:8 we read that this persuasion to observe a part of the law, circumcision in this case, does not come from Him (God in Christ) that calls you. In like fashion the persuasion to observe the tithe law does not come from God in Christ who calls us today to receive the free gift of salvation. It is interesting to note that this teaching of observing the tithe law (leaven) has now permeated the gospel and consequently the world wide church. With this “small” error creeping in, this has paved the way for other observances of the law such as first fruit giving, honouring holy days such has the Day of Atonement etc., to creep in also. One of the reasons why such teachings come about is because there are those who misunderstand what Christ said in Matt 5:17, that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfil them. Christ fulfilled the law when He declared on the cross, “it is finished” (John 19:30). Because Christ fulfilled the law, He established a new covenant in His blood so that we can now attain salvation by Grace through faith and not through the works of the law (Eph 2:8-10; Gal 2:16, 21; Gal 3:3).

Let me reiterate here what I have always said in the previous posts on tithing, there is nothing inherently wrong in volunteering 10 percent of your income to the work of ministry if this is what you have decided in your own heart. However, if you seek to observe the tithe law you are fallen from grace. Anyone who teach that one must observe the tithing law is preaching another gospel, and if another gospel another Jesus thus perverting the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6-9).

On the basis of the scriptural evidence presented therefore it is clear that tithing is in fact a matter which pertains to salvation if it pertains to the observance of the law – the yoke of bondage which Christ has set us free from by His own blood. I will end with the following question that Paul posed to the Galatians:

3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3)

In tithes we trust February 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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The modern church has come to be reliant upon “tithes and offerings” which are regarded as essential to financing the Gospel. Proponents of the tithe in particular have claimed that God purposed for the tithe to be used to finance the Gospel, i.e., the church structure/organisation. In this regard it is argued that Jesus Christ never abolished the tithe, and to support the arguments scriptures are cited which suggest that tithing was before the Law. Whatever the arguments though, “tithes and offerings” are the mainstay of most churches in Christendom today and forms the main source of income to meet the various needs of the church.

 

The question should be asked however as to whether tithing (in particular) meets the standard of New Testament giving. The term “tithing” here is used rather loosely to refer to the practice of giving 10 percent of one’s income to the local church. It should be pointed out therefore that though this modern form of tithing is not identical to the biblical practice it is usually the case that scriptures which pertains solely to the Law (the Old Covenant) are used to support the practice in the church today. So where exactly are we? Are we still under the Law or has the Law been set aside or perhaps we are partially still under the Law?

 

Perhaps the most overused scripture in “enforcing” tithing in the church is Mal 3:8-12. This portion of scripture appears to have the most currency because it drives fear in a believer’s heart in that they are robbing God if they do not give a tenth of their income and consequently they will be cursed as God will not rebuke the devourer. Of course none of us would like to be considered as robbing God and we certainly would want to escape from any curses imposed by God. One of the main justifications for tithing therefore is that the tither either believes or is lead to believe that they are insuring against this dreaded curse and are also “investing” for future blessings when they tithe. The fact that the church has to rely on this biblical injunction to raise funds demonstrates two things. Firstly, it demonstrates that the church has failed to recognised that the injunction in Mal 3:8-12 was not given to the Church but was said at a time when Israel was still under the Law and that since Christ fulfilled the Law it is no longer in force. Secondly, it demonstrates that both the church leadership and the followership have misplaced their faith by trusting in the tithe instead of putting their trust in God who is the source of all blessings. The church leadership demonstrate a lack of faith when they have to resort to using the Law to “encourage” giving in the New Testament age. Likewise the followership also demonstrates a lack of faith by putting their trust in the tithe as their insurance policy rather than to trust solely in God.

 

Under the New Covenant in Christ’s blood we are called to walk by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11) and as such giving is an act of faith (Jam 2:14-18). Tithing however, contrary to what some have believed, is not an act of faith but an instruction or commandment given under the Law. Furthermore, attempting to “prove God” by tithing as a result of the enticement of “the windows of heaven” blessings again is not an act of faith. If God will bless us because of our contributions to the church then all we need to do is take Him at His words. It is for this reason that Mal 3:8-12 should not be used to stir a believer’s conscience in donating money to the local church. It is important to note here that before faith came the Law was in force (Gal 3:23) and the Law therefore acted as a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24). Furthermore Paul tells us in Gal 3:12 that the Law is not based on faith. Injunctions such as Mal 3:8-12 therefore demonstrates the nature of the Law in its capacity as a schoolmaster – it emphasizes the benefits (merits) if you obey and the punishments (demerits) if you do not. Does this injunction typify our new position in Christ? Is this a demonstration of how faith works in the current church age? Are we as foolish as the Galatians in thinking that we are justified by obeying the tithing Law?

 

Whilst the income generated from “tithing” (of one’s income) may serve a useful purpose in contributing to the spread of the Gospel, the ends do not justify the means. According to James 2:10, if we seek to observe the Law but fail in on one point we are guilty of the whole Law. If we then are guilty of the Law then are we under a curse. But thankfully Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law having been made a curse for us (Gal 3:13). The very curse therefore referred to in Mal 3:8-12 is the same curse that Christ hath redeemed us from. Why then do ministers continue to use Mal 3:8-12 to convict their church members to tithe of their income? Are they so fearful that if they do not instruct tithing that they won’t have any money to finance the church and are the members so lacking in faith that they can’t give unless they are faced with threats?

 

It is interesting to note that there are many church goers who help to propagate the myth that “tithing works”. By this they mean that when they pay their tithes they are blessed as this is usually followed by promotions at work, salary increases, unexpected gifts of money and general stability in their finances. On the reverse some claim that when they do not tithe all sorts of problems befall them so from this standpoint alone many put their trust in tithing to ward against the evil devourer that seeks to upset their finances. The simple truth however is that whether you tithe or don’t tithe you will have problems in your life including your finances. The Psalmist understood this fact only too well when he declared: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Ps 34:19). Jesus also tells us in John 16:33 that we shall have many trials and sorrows in this world and Paul declared that through much tribulation must we enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). If you purpose in your heart to give 10 percent of your income to your church that is fine. However, tithing is not an insurance policy against the evil day and the church should not teach tithing as if this is the case. You should instead put your faith and your trust in God alone who is able to help you to overcome all the challenges in this life.

Tithing Confessions January 4, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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One of the bizarre things I have come across about tithing in recent times is dubbed “tithing confessions”. I grew up in churches that mentioned or advocated tithing but I had never heard of the practice of tithing confessions till recently. It would appear that after many years of tithing people are questioning why they are not receiving the promised “windows of heaven blessings” that their pastors promised them. They are no better off after years of tithing and still face the same struggles daily. So it appears that in order to “ease” the discontent and uneasiness someone came up with a “clever idea” that the reason they are not receiving the blessing is because they lack faith and therefore they need to regularly make a “tithing confession”. These confessions are designed to encourage the faithful to hang in there and continue to tithe faithfully believing that if they confess regularly that the blessings will eventually pour forth. A close examination of some of these “confessions” (can be found by googling) will reveal that they are little more than vain babblings by people who are destitute of the truth.

 

The question that one should ask therefore is that if God promises you something why should you need to confess daily or regularly in order to receive it? This to me demonstrates a lack of faith because by faith we take God at His word. We do not test or prove God but rest upon His promises. If we look at Abraham for example, God promised him a son. Do we see in scripture where Abraham confessed daily to receive his son? No! Abraham expressed doubt because of his age and his wife’s age so thought he would help God to fulfil the prophesy by heeding his wife’s encouragement to beget a son by her maid Hagar. Yet following this Abraham was granted the son God had promised him. The thing to note is that when God promises something He will fulfil it according to His sovereign will so all we need to do His wait on Him.

 

We need to examine however whether God promised the church the “windows of heaven blessings” for tithing. It is clear from scripture that Mal 3:10 was a covenant withIsraelandIsraelonly. Paul says that before faith was the Law, hence since faith had not yet come, God instructedIsraelto prove Him by bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse and see if He wouldn’t open the windows of Heaven and pour out the blessing. Those who tithe according to these promises therefore are trying to hijack a covenant and attempting to beholden God to it – a covenant which incidentally has been set aside by God and replaced with a new one. Under the new covenant we have faith therefore we do not seek to prove God. Many are therefore tithing and confessing in vain because they seek after promises that God did not give them. This is why they will never receive the “windows of heaven blessings” as a direct response to their observance of a covenant that God did not make with them.

 

The use of “tithing confessions” is a deceptive doctrine which serves to keep in bondage those who are vainly hoping for things that were never promised to them. God is not man that He should lie. God is not delivering on these promises because He did not promise them to the new covenant church. If He had you would not have been tithing in vain all these years and still left empty-handed. God does not fail on His promises. Wake up church!!

 

By what are ye saved? Grace, Faith, Works? November 5, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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It would appear that many in the church today do not seem to fully understand the Gospel of Salvation. In my Part 2 on The Gospel of Salvation I made reference to the fact that we are justified by faith but that faith must be accompanied by works – which in essence means we are justified by faith as well as works. Now some people might not have understood that and may even label me as an heretic but this is the reason why I want to explain these things further in this post.

We are told in scripture that we are saved by Grace through faith and not of works lest any man should boast.

 

Eph 2

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

Was Paul trying to say here that we are not to do works because works do not save us? The answer to that is no because in verse 10 he clearly stated that we are created in Jesus unto GOOD WORKS which God had already ordained that we should walk in them.

Let me therefore attempt to paint a picture of what Paul was trying to say: Grace is like a doorway that Christ opened or prepared for the whole world (John 3:16, 14:6). That doorway was set in heavenly places and behind it one may find Life. There is a very long, narrow and winding stairway leading up towards it (Matt 7:14). However, for anyone to even set foot on the first step of that stairway they must have faith. Now faith is unseen! It embodies the hope in Christ that we may find life at the end of the stairway. Faith is necessary in order to believe in the provision of Grace (Acts 16:31). If we therefore believe then the Lord will takes on that journey of faith along that stairway till we reach our destination. Our faith is therefore manifested in our willingness to act by taking the first step on that stairway and then the next, and the next after – although the journey is long we are propelled by the hope in us which is our saving faith.

In this little picture therefore we see that we are not saved by Grace alone or that we are saved by faith alone. However we are saved by Grace through faith as Paul said. We cannot circumvent Grace in order to perform what we perceive as righteous works in thinking that these will justify us before God. In other words, the picture shows we cannot avoid the path set forth before us with its preconditions in order to find another way to obtain salvation. This is what Paul meant when he said “Not of works”. But Paul most certainly was not saying we were not required to do works because in verse 10 of Eph 2 that view is contradicted. The good works then can be thought of as the action of walking up the steps. In this way the act of walking up the steps is an outward manifestation of our faith. Let’s conflate this with what the Apostle James was saying.

James 2

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness:

In putting these verses in context to the picture, what James is saying is that you cannot claim to have faith and not show the outward manifestation of physically taking up your staff and walking up the steps along the stairway. In other words you cannot sit at the foot of the stairway and claim to have faith that you will reap the fruits lying in wait at the end of the stairway and not demonstrating your faith by getting up and walking the path. To claim therefore to have such faith and to do nothing is dead faith! If your faith is therefore dead you can never enjoy the fruits at the end of the stairway because you have not the means to get there.

What both Paul and James have said therefore are complimentary to understanding our gospel of salvation. Paul says we are justified by faith but James expands on that by saying we are justified by faith with the outward manifestation in works. Are we therefore required to do works? To answer this question, Jesus says that if we loved Him then we will obey His commands (John 14:15). Obeying Christ commands are an embodiment of works – the same good works that Paul referred to in Eph 2:10 and which demonstrates our love for Christ. These are also the same works that James is saying we ought to perform to demonstrate our faith which is kept alive in Christ. The great commission also demonstrates that we are to observe all things (good works) that Christ commanded (Matt 28:20).

Faith is therefore not an antithesis to works which is what some people have tried to make it but rather faith and works are tied together in obtaining salvation by Grace. Can we therefore continue to neglect to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison and claim to be justified by faith? Did Christ not warn that if we do not do these things we would not inherit Life?

Matt 25

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Faith without works is dead and leads to death!

The Gospel of Salvation – part 2 October 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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This post is in continuation of a discourse between myself and Dave from over at “The Gospel According to the Gospel”. Link to Part 1 here.

Dave,

To continue where I left off last time, I want to look at what you said with regards to modern theologians holding to the view that there has been a dispensation of works (the Law) and a dispensation of Grace. Let me state categorically that I personally do not subscribe to this view. Indeed I hold to the view that there is and have been two dispensations in regards to the promise made to Abraham. The word dispensation being used in this context refers to a “religious epoch” or period of time. Consequently the first covenant lasted for a particular period of time – in that time period only Israel could benefit from the first covenant because it was given to them only. The following verses of scripture demonstrate this fact:

Eph 2

12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

The second (or new) covenant was given to everybody therefore but first to the Jew and then to the Greek (or the Gentiles). In my view therefore the plan of salvation as embodied in the covenant promises made to Abraham was implemented in essence in two phases which I refer to as dispensations. Looking at Gal 3 and Rom 8 we see the duality of the plan of salvation:

Gal 3

23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 

Roms 8

3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

In Rom 8:3 therefore we see that although we are no longer bound by the law, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us through Christ Jesus.

Now let’s turn attention to the issue of “works versus Grace”. There are mainly two issues here which are sometimes often confused and I will look at these in turn. The first issue relates to the fact that in the early church Paul (and other Apostles) was faced with a problem whereby the Jews who had now become followers of Christ (Christians) sought to continue doing the “works of the Law” and as such believed Gentile Christians should do likewise. An example of this can be seen in Acts 21:21-25 where Paul had to make it clear that he did not give any instruction to the Gentiles who believed (or required them) to observe the customs and practices which came down from Moses.  Paul had to deal with a similar problem in Gal 2:11-14 where he had to rebuke Peter for hypocrisy because Peter ate with the Gentiles but when circumcised Jews came among them he withdrew to “save face”. Paul therefore had to clarify in the following verse that man is not justified by the works of the Law but by the “new” faith that was given in Christ:

Gal 2

16 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. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The Jews therefore were making the Cross of Christ of none-effect by claiming that the works of the Law such as circumcision were still necessary. But these works as we have seen were not required particularly since the Law had been set aside by Christ death and resurrection.

Now the other problem relating to “works vs Grace” relates to the problem faced by the early reformers like Martin Luther. By the time of the Reformation the Roman Church had established a religions system which suggested that a man had to do “good works” in order to “earn” his salvation. Piety was defined in terms of “good works” that were deemed necessary for one to earn his place in heaven. As a result, the Roman Church believed and taught “justification by works” instead of “justification by faith”, which Paul preached. Often times therefore, when the issue of “works vs Grace” is spoken of, the two different types of “works” (“works of the Law” and “good works”) are often conflated without any distinction made. As a result we arrive at a crossroads where we say that a man is justified only by Grace and there is no need for works. The following verses of Eph 2 define salvation by Grace:

Eph 2

5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved😉 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

In contrast to the teachings of the Roman church of justification by works, Paul writing to the Ephesians makes it clear here that salvation is by grace through faith only and not of ourselves. In other words we cannot save ourselves simply by doing what is considered “good works” because if we have “good works” yet not faith in Christ we or still lost. Is it correct to say then that because we are saved by Grace then there is no need for good works? I think this is where the church today has missed an opportunity by its complacency in neglecting to do good works. The key terminology Paul used is that salvation is by Grace THROUGH FAITH. In James’ exposition on faith in James 2:26 he makes it abundantly clear that faith, if it has not works is DEAD and dead faith cannot obtain Grace. Good works are therefore necessary for our faith to come alive in Jesus Christ! Can we therefore continue to juxtapose “Grace” against “works”? No! For salvation is BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH and faith necessitates works otherwise it is dead. Here is what James said:

James 2

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness:

There we have it! Justification by faith is in fact the same as justification by works (in the perfection of faith)!

The modern church to a large extent however would seem to have held on to the doctrine of “Grace alone” neglecting the fact that “good works” are necessary in the exercising of our faith. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why the power of God in confirming the gospel is not evident in most churches today.

The Gospel of Salvation – part 1 October 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
9 comments

The following write-up is in response to an invitation from my brother in Christ Glasseyedave (from over at “The Gospel According to the Gospel“) to enter into a deeper discourse about the nature of our Gospel. I thought I would present my responses here as well since they demonstrate my belief concerning the Gospel, and which I hope may be of benefit to someone also. Anyone wishing to follow the discourse may also link to it here: Changing the Debate.

Hi Dave,

I welcome your offer for us to enter into deeper discourse concerning matters of the Gospel. I am honoured that you should approach me with respect to entering such a discussion with you and let me say that I do not think you are being arrogant at all. In my view if we cannot break “bread” in this way as brothers in Christ then what is the point? I too get frustrated when I share things whether on my blog or elsewhere and people shy away from it instead of engaging me – if even to say that I am wrong. We can have a civilised discussion even if we disagree but hopefully by having a discussion we can together come to the knowledge of truth. However, let us be patient towards one another and let us look at the issues portion by portion. If we try to eat too much “bread” all at once they we might not be able to swallow.

In your post there are a number of different but interconnected issues so the first issue that I would like us to discuss is on the issue of the Two Covenants. I referred to the two covenants as two different dispensations but you contend that they are not so. But let me warn you though that when I use the term “dispensations” it does not mean that I subscribe to “dispensational theology” as I have not studied this or had it preached to me. I therefore try not to approach the scriptures with bias (particularly from previous learning) but try to allow the letter and the Spirit to reveal to me what they will.

So why do I say that there are necessarily two dispensations on the road to Salvation? Well namely because we have Two Covenants (I do take cognisance of the fact that salvation and fellowship with God also existed before Abraham as per Enoch, Noah etc). Under the Old Covenant though, the Lord purposed to carve out a people for Himself who would be an ensign to the rest of mankind. This people, Israel, were to be the oracles of God and who were to set an example in righteousness for the nations round about them. Of course it would not be wrong to say that this was God’s sovereign will through His Grace. Israel of course were inheritors of God’s divine favour and hence why they were God’s chosen people. Under this Covenant however, Jesus had not yet gone to Calvary, the Holy Spirit had not been sent to “comfort” the church and there was no “regeneration” of the spirit of man (no born again experience). Under the Old Covenant therefore it was the Law (as opposed to the Spirit) that convicted man of sin. Repentance and remission were thus obtained through ritual sacrifices, and of course it was God’s Grace to forgive Israel of their sins through the “mechanisms” of these practices, which were mainly symbolic. These things were a shadow of the New Covenant which God promised in Abraham.

In reference to the New Covenant therefore God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations. This promise we know was fulfilled in Christ when the promise of the Spirit [by faith] came to the Gentiles. Man thus was no longer circumcised in the flesh after the manner of Abraham but rather received the circumcision of the heart. It goes without saying therefore that the righteousness of God which was imputed to Abraham is the same righteousness that we who had been cut off without a hope (the wild olive tree) have been grafted into. The difference however is that the righteousness which was instructed by the Law is now instructed by the Spirit through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. Under the Old Covenant Christ was promised and hence the Old pointed the way to the New – under the New Christ was given. What the Old could not accomplish therefore [and this is significant] the New is able to accomplish. I would like to highlight a couple of verses from Hebrews 9 here although the whole chapter is worth reading:

8The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that COULD NOT make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; [Emphasis added]

We see from the verse that the Old Covenant with it’s ordinances and sacrifices could not make those who preformed them perfect. Similar in Heb 8:7-13 we learn that if the Old was faultless there would not be any need for the New and the Old which decays is now ready to vanish away.

To sum up therefore, I contend that there has been TWO dispensations on the road to salvation – the first we called the Old Covenant which has now vanished away and the second which we call the New Covenant that was confirmed in the blood of Jesus Christ. If there aren’t two dispensations then we are saying that the Jews can continue to live under the Old Covenant (not recognizing it’s no more) and be saved. I think this is where the “works of the Law” are held as distinctly separate from “salvation of Grace” to say that the works of the Law cannot save you but only the Grace of God, which does not require works.

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