And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
My nephew (Nathan Price) posted a comment on Facebook this week that caught my attention. He wrote, "There are two big signs at Wal-Mart that say Enter and Exit, but people never use the right doors. I'm wondering, can they not read or do they just not care?"
Heaven also has an "enter" sign. It exist as surely as the Wal-Mart signs. While entering and exiting Wal-Mart has no particular bearing on the eternal outcome of one's life, following heaven's sign does.
Jesus said we must find and use the proper entrance into heaven: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13–14). Jesus later said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jno. 14:6). Any old way to enter heaven will not do. Jesus said only the "narrow gate" that opens to the "difficult" (straightened or confined) way grants any of us access to heaven.
Yet, many, many people appear to think they can ignore heaven's "enter" sign and still enter. That works for Wal-Mart; not for heaven.
Jesus and His apostles taught a plan of salvation sinners must obey to be saved. It is in plainly posted, just like Wal-Mart's sign. To be saved (enter heaven) the lost soul must hear the gospel (Jno. 6:44-45; Rom. 10:17). One must then believe Jesus is the Son of God (Jno. 8:23-24; Rom. 10:9-10). One must confess his faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10). The lost sinner must repent of his sins (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30). This repentant sinner must then be baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). The Lord adds this saved person to His church, who is then taught to live faithfully to Jesus (Acts 2:47; Eph. 2:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:10-11).
Heaven's "enter" sign does not say "Faith Only" (Jas. 2:24). It does not say "Just be Sincere" (Acts 23:1; 26:9). It does not say "Ignorance is Bliss" (Acts 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:13). It does not say, "Find Your Own Way In". Jesus is the only way into heaven (Acts 4:12). His gospel is the only power to save us (Rom. 1:16; Matt. 7:21-23).
So, when you refuse to read and use heaven's "enter" sign God has posted, "I'm wondering, can you not read or do you just not care?"
Start caring today and start reading the "enter" sign into heaven. Obey the gospel, be saved and be faithful to Jesus. Then you will enter heaven by and by (Heb. 5:9).
The Jewish teachers thought they could have eternal life through the Law of Moses (Jno. 5:39). Such would have required perfect law-keeping - sinless perfection - a feat no one could or can claim (since "all have sinned", Rom. 3:9, 23). When we committed sin we forever eliminated perfect law-keeping from our lives.
We are not promoting legalism or "salvation by perfection" when we advance and advocate knowing and obeying God's truth. We are applying the words of Christ, who said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:31-32).
The impossible yoke of which Peter spoke in Acts 15:10-11 was the view that the Law of Moses could give salvation. The history of Israel proved otherwise. The Law convicted them as sinners against the Law; it did not justified them from sin. All people, whether Jews or Gentiles, can be saved only “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11).
Living strictly under law, man is found to be a sinner and deserving of death (Rom. 3:20; 6:23). If man could be saved by law-keeping (and remember, sinless perfection is the only way to accomplish that), then Jesus Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21; 3:10-11).
This does not relieve the requirement of God’s grace that commands people to obey Jesus (Heb. 5:8-9). Titus 2:11-12 sheds important light here: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age...” Grace teaches us how to live.
One cannot refuse to deny lust and ungodliness and be saved by God’s grace. We cannot "continue to sin that grace may abound" (Rom. 6:1). When one denies sin and worldly lusts he is indeed obeying the law of God, since God "commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Does obeying God mean one earns his salvation (salvation by works, i.e., perfect law-keeping)? No. We are sinners, saved by grace through faith. When we have done all we have been commanded to do we are to say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Lk. 17:10).
One must obey the law of Christ or God's grace is not obtained. This is how salvation “by grace...through faith” operates (Eph. 2:8-9). Some brethren suggest that by promoting obedience to the commands of Christ we diminish divine grace and promote salvation by perfect law-keeping. This is not true. The question begs to be asked, "Is faith a requirement in order for one to obtain God’s grace?" Absolutely (Jno. 8:24). If so, does this mean when one has faith that “grace is no longer grace?” Certainly not. Yet, some Christians criticize obedience as a ‘law of works’ that does not affect fellowship with God or unity of brethren (cf. 2 Jno. 9-11). Such is error.
How truly discouraging. We must spend time opposing and exposing Calvinistic doctrine to brethren, including gospel preachers. Grace is not a license to sin, nor does grace allow fellowship with error (Rom. 6:1-2; cf. Amos 3:3). This is fundamental to the faith (Jude 3-4; Heb. 6:1). Yet, as one brother put it to me, “which way will you have it? Are we saved by grace or by our perfect works? By grace or by perfect knowledge? By grace or by our perfect doctrinal correctness? Right here are your passages that show we can disagree on matters of doctrinal things. In fact, if you want passages, just read the books of Romans and Galatians, along with Eph 2.1-8, Phil 3.1-9, Tit 3.5, etc.” His question allows for only two possibilities; there is another.
The Bible answer is this: We must have it God’s way without the false definitions and constructions men are passing off as salvation by grace. The Bible teaches there are works of faith without which one will not be saved (Jas. 2:22-24). Faith without works (obedience to God) is dead (Jas. 2:17, 26). We know nothing of God’s grace except through the gospel, "the word of His grace” which includes the terms and conditions for abiding in "the true grace of God in which you stand” (Acts 20:24, 32; 1 Pet. 5:12). We are justified by faith when we obey Christ. We stand in God's grace as a result of obedient faith (Rom. 5:1-2).
Noah was an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith (Heb. 11:7). Did his obedience in building the ark diminish and deny God’s grace (Gen. 6:8, 14, 22)? Not at all. Yet, unless Noah had built the ark as God commanded, he and his family would not have been saved. They would have perished along with the sinful world. We cannot do any less and expect salvation (Heb. 11:7).
We can understand this simple example of man's faith and God’s grace. Why then do some brethren still stumble over the necessity of obeying Jesus on topics like marriage, divorce and remarriage? Obeying Jesus does not advocate salvation by perfection. Obeying Jesus follows the example of Noah and puts one's faith in Christ into action. Obeying Jesus means complying with every command given by the Savior, just like Noah (Jno. 14:15; Lk. 17:10). Obeying Jesus obeys the instructions of God’s grace, just like Noah (Tit. 2:11-12).
One cannot be out of harmony with the apostles’ doctrine and still stand in the grace of God (Rom. 5:1-2; 2 Jno. 9). If that is possible, then testing the teachings of men against the objective standard of the Scriptures is unnecessary, trivial and a vain exercise (1 Jno. 4:1, 6; Matt. 7:15-23; Gal. 1:6-10). Such a conclusion is not from God.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 14
1. Pride is a powerful temptation, 1
Jno. 2:16. Self-deception is a real danger, 1 Cor. 3:18.
I. THE FOOL SAYS THERE IS NO GOD, Psa. 14:1.
A. The Fool Prefers to Live in Sin, Psa. 10:3-4; Rom. 1:18-22, 28; Eph.
4:17-19; Prov. 15:3.
II. THE FOOL SAYS THE GOSPEL IS FOOLISH, 1 Cor. 1:18-25.
A. The Fool Says there is No (Definite) Truth, Jno. 18:37 (14:6).
III. THE FOOL SAYS LIFE IS A PARTY, Eccl. 7:4.
A. Therefore, the Fool Says "Trust Yourself", Prov. 12:15; Isa. 22:13;
Road Rage Ends in Death
There have been at least three violent road rage incidents reported in Albuquerque, New Mexico over the past three months. This week, 4-year-old Lilly Garcia was shot and killed in her father's truck. Gestures and words were exchanged over a 2-mile stretch of I-40 freeway, and Tony Torrez, 32, starting shooting at Alan Garcia. Garcia's daughter was shot in the head. Torrez has been arrested and charged with murder and other felonies ("Police say suspect confesses to road rage shooting that killed New Mexico 4-year-old", FoxNews.com). What a tragedy.
Rage is senseless fury, a clear loss of sober-thinking and self-control. Moreover, violent expressions of rage reveal a glaring lack of respect for others.
Road rage is sin, even when it does not end in tragedy as it did in Albuquerque this week. While self-control is named among the fruit of the Spirit, "outbursts of wrath" are works of the flesh that condemn the soul (Gen. 5:23, 20-21). If you get angry at people when you are driving because you think they have done something against you (real or perceived), you have just allowed anger to control you. True strength is in controlling one's spirit (Prov. 16:32).
Rage, whether on the road, at home, at work, at school or anywhere else, reveals an arrogant heart. It is an overconfident and furious reaction that presumes others are inferior and deserve your rage. (After all, you are entitled to get anger, you tell yourself, because they are such poor drivers!) Rage is foolish: “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident” (Prov. 14:16). Rage does not practice the golden rule (Matt. 7:12).
Lives were instantly changed when Mr. Torrez became enraged. An innocent child is dead. A family is grieving a great loss. A man is facing prison (and eternal death, Rom. 6:23). Rage is not worth its cost. Control yourself.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 10/25/2015
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA