And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 35 July 27, 2008
In this issue:
There continues to be debate and confusion over the relative positions of grace, faith and obedience in God’s scheme of redemption.
It is often said that salvation is “by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone”. There is no doubt that without the grace of God none would be saved (Rom. 3:23-24; Eph. 2:5). But, if salvation is by grace “alone” would not all be saved, since God desires the salvation of all (1 Tim. 2:3-4)? Yet, all are not saved. Therefore, while “grace” describes God’s part in redemption, grace is not “alone”. Man also has a part in salvation.
The Bible teaches that salvation is “through faith” and not through the works of the law (Rom. 3:20-26). A sinner cannot earn the right to be saved; he has already committed sin, and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Thus, Paul boldly affirmed, “Where is the boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.” (Rom. 3:27) No one merits or deserves salvation. It is made available by “the law of faith” and not by “works” (of the Law of Moses, Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10-12). We are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”, not “through the (works of the) law” (Gal. 3:26; see 2:16, 21; 3:10, 14).
Faith that is “to the saving of the soul” is active; it is obedient to the will of God (Heb. 10:36-39). “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas. 2:18). James notes concerning the nature of faith that faith alone (faith that is “by itself”) does not save (see also, Jas. 2:14-26). “You see that a man is justified by works, and not be faith only” (Jas. 2:24). The works of obedience express faith in God to save. Faith that does not obey God does not trust God and will not obtain salvation from God. God blesses obedience that was “by faith” (Heb. 11).
Salvation is “in Christ alone” – “in none other is there salvation” (Acts 4:12). But, how does the sinner come into this saved relation with Christ?
The answer is given in Galatians 3:26-27. After summarizing that we are God’s children through faith in Christ and not through the works of the law, the apostle declared “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”. One is not saved outside of Christ, and baptism is “into Christ”. To be saved “in Christ” one must be baptized “into Christ” in order to “put on Christ”. Baptism is the sinner’s obedience to the Lord’s command. Obedient faith does not earn salvation any more than Noah earned his salvation when he obeyed God by faith and built the ark (Mk. 16:16; Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20-21). Obeying Christ’s command to be baptized is the response of a faith that trusts God will save by grace. Obeying Christ is not earning salvation; it is the means by which we obtain God’s grace. Obedience is included in the “through faith” part – man’s part – of the salvation equation (Eph. 2:8-9).
God’s grace makes salvation available to every sinner. But only sinners who believe Jesus is the Son of God, repent and are “baptized into Christ” actually “put on Christ” (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38, 41; Gal. 3:27). Christ saves those who trust Him and “obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).
People are fascinated with questions about God that seem (to them) to have no answers. Many times God has already answered the question in His word. We must be willing to accept and be content with His answers (Deut. 29:29).
The wise man Solomon said there are some questions about the “work of God that a man cannot find out”. Although he “labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it” (Eccl. 8:17). We can only know why God does what He does to the extent that He has revealed His reasons to us (1 Cor. 2:9-11). And, God expects us to be content with that and not resist His will (Rom. 9:19).
We received a recent question that asked,
“Please tell me why God created this world. Why did he do this knowing how things would be now, the world all in a mess, individual lives in torment every day with problems and disappointments? And why did he decide that he would need to have people “be saved”.”
* First, God created the world because He chose to do so. As Sovereign, Almighty God, He has both the right and the power to do so. “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Rom. 9:20) God expects us to be content with the grand declaration: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
* The existence of the universe declares the glory and righteousness of God (Psa. 19:1; 50:6). God’s creation is ample evidence of His power and glory. God’s invisible attributes of eternal power and Godhood are clearly seen in the world He created, and persuade us to seek and find Him (Rom. 1:20; Acts 17:24-28).
* God created human beings with free will so we would choose to serve Him. God did not create robots; He created man and woman in His image (which includes the ability to make moral decisions, Gen. 1:27). It is evident that God’s purpose was to create a being whose image was like His – one with whom He could share fellowship and blessings (Gen. 2-3). When God commanded man not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil it was predicated on man’s ability to make a moral decision (Gen. 2:17).
* God wants people to choose good, but we have all gone astray. God did not create mankind so we could suffer; He created us so we could live in close fellowship with Him (Gen. 2:15; 3:8). Solomon found “that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29). All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Furthermore, we are “without excuse” when we sin because God’s creation is proof of His power and deity and is a compelling reason for us to glorify Him and praise Him (Rom. 1:20-21).
* God did not want us to live forever in sin, so He planned to save us in Christ. His plan of redemption from sin lands a death blow to Satan and the power of sin and death (Gen. 3:15, 22). His plan of redemption is a great expression of divine love that rescues sinners from eternal death (Eph. 1:3-11; 2:1-10).
God wants all sinners to be saved from their sins, so He gave His Son to be our Savior (1 Tim. 2:3-4; Jno. 3:16). All who obey the Son will be saved (Heb. 5:9; Mk. 16:15-16; Matt. 7:21-23).
The universe stands as a great monument to God’s power (Rom. 1:20). The gospel is God’s great power to save sinners (Rom. 1:16-17). God’s wants all who suffer under the weight of sin to come to the Son in humble, obedient faith and be saved (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41).
A codex is basically a handwritten book. In the history of “books,” the codex replaced scrolls. The text of a 1600+ year old codex named “Codex Sinaiticus” will soon be available online. This codex contains the same books of the New Testament that we have today. Why is this important?
1. We can trust the Scriptures today. Comparing the Codex Sinaiticus with Bibles today shows that the message of Scripture has not changed even after hundreds and hundreds of years. Forget what “The DaVinci Code” and skeptics claim. The evidence for faith that the Bible is trustworthy is rock solid. Jesus said “My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). He was right.
2. No new revelations. Paul warned that some would bring additional messages (Galatians 1:6-9). This codex verifies that no new revelation is needed to replace “lost” or “corrupted” revelation of the past. The past light still shines today.
The Codex Sinaiticus, plus similar ancient manuscripts, shows that “the
stroke of a pen” has not changed God’s law delivered in the first century.
We can read the same words that people heard and read a couple thousand
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 31:21-24
1. Jesus faced
disappointments but was never reduced to despair, Heb. 4:15; 5:7-9.
I. DISCOURAGEMENT TAKES MANY FORMS AND IS CAUSED BY MANY THINGS.
Matters, Jno. 7:1-5 (Mt. 6:25, 34).
“Discouragement will come (Matt. 18:7). We must know how to deal with it.”
II. JESUS OVERCAME DISCOURAGEMENT:
Endurance: He did not give in and give up, Heb. 12:1-2; Phil. 4:10-13; Rom.
8:35-39; 1 Jno. 4:4 (Heb. 11:32-39).
1. God strengthens
and saves His people, Psa. 31:21-24 (Heb. 13:5-6).
Forgetful Fathers and Dead Children
Every summer we hear of small children dying from heat exhaustion in locked cars. A parent has a mental lapse – a moment of forgetfulness – and their little child is dead. The Times of London reports two recent incidents of fathers in France who left their children unattended and strapped into their car seats all day long while they worked. What tragic heartache and regret! (“Children died after forgetful fathers left them in cars”, Adam Sage, Times Online, July 24, 2008)
This reminds us that fathers and mothers must remember to train their children in the Lord (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). Parents must remember to care for their children’s spiritual safety; otherwise, the death of sin comes resulting in great heartache and regret. Do not allow life’s pressures to distract you from remembering your children.
* Remember to teach your children. Teach them about God, about His Son Jesus and about His gospel. From learning the books of the Bible to knowing the plan of salvation to defining moral issues they will face as they grow, our children desperately need to continually hear the word of God from their parents (Deut. 6:6-9).
* Remember to worship with your children. Pray with them, sing with them, study with them and attend worship services with them. You will be setting examples for their future.
* Remember to correct your children. “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction” (Prov. 19:18). There is a window of opportunity for training and correcting a child, and then the time is past. Rather than harm the child, correction will help save him (Prov. 23:13-14).
Yes, children will grow up and make their own choices as they reach the age of moral accountability. Sometimes they reject the training given them by their parents, like Israel rejected God (Isa. 1:2-3). But if parents forget to nurture their children in the Lord, how can they hope to protect them from sin and death?
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 07/27/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA