I’ve tried to write a blog today several times today. Either I am not supposed to write it, or something is stopping me from writing it.
The topic is salvation through faith is Jesus Christ, the means by which all people may enter into heaven.
If you read this blog often, you know that I am a follower of Christ and believe in his teachings. The trouble I am having that I want to discuss here on my blog is a common misunderstanding in the western church that somehow our behavior is a determining factor in our salvation. In other words, I am concerned with the misconception among many professing followers of Jesus that how they behave will determine where they end up when they die. I am concerned that the evil at work in this world is tricking many followers into thinking that accepting the free gift of salvation alone is not enough, and that man must play a part in obtaining their own salvation.
This trickery, this false-teaching has a name. It’s called legalism. Legalism is a term used to describe those who continue to rely on their obedience to the Old Testament law to obtain salvation for their souls. The Bible is clear that Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirement of this law in his death and resurrection and that now all that is required of us is to believe that only Jesus can bridge the gap between all of us here on earth and God in heaven.
Yet I know so many “good Christian people” today who continue to believe that the way one behaves can keep them out of heaven. I have often heard the pious argument that: “If a person keeps on sinning, then they must never have really made a profession of faith.” I think that is crap.
We can never be good enough! That’s why Jesus had to die. To claim that equality with God in that we have a hand in our own salvation is blasphemous because only Jesus, fully man and fully God, could break the power of sin and make a way for man to become right with God. All God asks us to do is to believe this… to accept this salvation as a free gift.
Last night at Frontline, Todd gave an illustration about salvation that I found to make perfect sense.
He handed someone on the front row his Bible and said: here. I am giving this to you as a gift.
Then he asked us: What makes this not a gift?
There were two answers: the first, it’s not a gift if we refuse to accept it. The second, it’s not a gift if we pay for it.
Look at the proof:
Romans 6:23 says, “The wages (payment) for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!”
Romans 4:3-5 says, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Titus 3:3-7 says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
AND- once you receive the gift, you can NEVER LOSE IT
Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
And for all those who believe and trust in Christ as their savior, take hold of and rest in the truth of these promises:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is GOOD NEWS! If you struggle with legalism, and still feel burdened to earn your way into good standing with God, I hope and pray you will grab hold of these verses, and trust that in Jesus is the fullness of grace and righteousness, enough for us all. This is the mystery and the miracle of God’s great love for us!
However, do not abuse this wonderful gift by taking it as a license to sin.
In Romans Chapter 6, Paul addresses this perfectly, anding with our starting verse, Romans 6:23…
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on legalism and how you’ve seen the truths in the above verses play out in your lives.