[It would be good to read the previous postings on “REPENTANCE” and “THE MODERN SMOOTH CROSS” to enrich this study]
Salvation is a gift from God. We have access to this gift by the grace and mercy of God. Salvation is not something we deserve but it can be ours because of God’s love for us. “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” (Eph. 2:8, 9).
LOOKING AT THE LAW
If we combine that verse quoted above with the following: “Knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. And not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified…” (Gal. 2:16). “…received ye the Spirit by works of the law or by the hearing of faith? (Gal. 3:2). “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin…” (Rom. 3:20). “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom 3:28). It’s pretty obvious that God says we cannot be saved by the works of the law. This is speaking of the Levitical law of the scriptures. Man, through his pride, has thought he could keep this law since it was given at Mt. Sinai. Disobiedence of God’s law is sin, which we all have done. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn. 3:4). For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
LOOKING AT FAITH
Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews and see examples of things that men and women of old did by faith. In each case there was an action brought on by the application of faith. Faith is God brings action. These actions are works or deeds of faith. James tells us of these works: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, 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” (Jm. 2:17, 18). “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead ” (Jm. 2:20). “Ye see then how by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jm. 2:24).
LOOKING AT GRACE
God shows saving grace to every man. “For the grace that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world….(Titus 2:11, 12). This grace, then, comes to teach, and when we do these teachings, when we let our old man die, then these are works of faith that bring salvation. And it’s God’s grace that brings us there.
There is a law to be obeyed for salvation. Paul calls this law “the law of faith” in Romans 3:27. This is not the Levitical law. This law of faith requires us to believe from the heart and repent. No man by his own good deeds, or more good deeds than bad, can just squeeze his way into heaven. There is no person who is basically ‘a good guy’ that can hope to be justified by God for salvation. Striving to be a ‘good person’ is like trying to keep the Levitical law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). “For the law is spiritual…” (Rom. 7:14). The unspiritual, natural man cannnot keep this law which is spiritual. It is the grace of God which allows us to keep his spiritual law by faith.
By the works of the law shall no man be justified. A man is justified by works and not by faith only. But, the works of faith are not the same as the works of the law. By works, faith is made perfect (Jm., 2:22)
There is no way we can do enough to earn our way into God’s kingdom. God is holy and his kingdom is holy. But through faith we make ourselves acceptable unto him. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). Faith is the key. Our faith is manifested by our works.
This then we need to know: Without works of faith there is no salvation. To repent of dead works is a work of faith. Without repentance from sin there is no salvatiion. And here is another key to our understanding. We do what we believe. What we believe is manifested by what we do. We may deceive ourselves into thinking we have a real belief in God and show an outward appearence, but under pressure we will do what we believe. To believe there is a God is not the same as believing in God through faith. Even the devils believe in God (Jm. 2:19). For example, the so called Christian who “slips” when angry and curses God. The true nature comes out. “… for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mt 12:34). That old nature, that old heart, is the old nature of the unregenerate flesh. Using God’s name in vain is sin, transgression of the law, breaking the 10 commandments. When the old nature has been crucified with Christ, blessing and cursing cannot and will not come out of the same mouth. If you don’t know then it would be good to be aquainted with 1 John chapter 3, especially verses 4, 9 and 10. “He that commmitteth sin is of the devil…” (:4). “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil…” (:9, 10). Knowing and believing this seperates the men from the boys, the ‘church member’ from the Christian, the deceiver from the man of God.
Faith, as James tells us, will be shown by works. These works are the substance coming from that faith. So there is evidence brought forth that shows we have faith. This is the definitiion of faith given to us in Hebrews chapter 11. This work of faith, whether for salvation or afterwards, will glorify your Father in heaven. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt., 5:6). Jesus accomplished many things; he did many mighty works during his walk on this earth. He was, and is, our Saviour, our healer, our example and much more, but all encompassed by this one thing, he glorified his Father. “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work thou gavest me to do” (Jn. 17:4). With his hands, his words, and his deeds, with his whole heart, he did the works that glorified God.
We will be judged and rewarded according to our works. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest…(1Cor. 3:13). “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Mt. 16:27). “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according to his works shall be” (Rev. 22:12. But without the works of repentance from sin, letting our old man die and receiving Jesus as Savioiur, our works, no matter how good they may seem, are worthless in our final judgment. Look and Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 and 11. Cornelius was a “good man”. He was devout, feared God, gave alms to the people, prayed and fasted. Even an angle appeared to him and said his prayer was heard and his works were held in memorial before God. Cornelius was told by the angel to send for Peter and he would tell him the words whereby he and his house would be saved. Don’t let your works just be held in memorial. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7:21-23). There’s no use in running hard for home base if you never touched first base. Acts 26:20, “…that they should repent and turn to God, and to the works meet for repentance.” You can’t be righteous on your own. He is our righteousness. He must live that righteousness in us. We have to die to self and let him in and live his life in our mortal bodies. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20. The path to receiving this righteousness is given in the previous posting “THE MODERN SMOOTH CROSS”. Philippians 2:12 tells us the end of the matter, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
After this work of faith for salvation our work continues. In each of the 7 church ages of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, (which show our growth in him from babes to full sonship), Jesus declares, “…I know thy works…” Our work for him are works of love and faith, but by works of the law shall no man jbe justified.
“Then said they unto him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (Jn. 6:28, 29).