Commentaries and pastoral letters regarding issues of the day.
Welcome to The Pastor's Study. Here you will find Pastor Dick's periodic pastoral letters containing observations and teachings regarding not only doctrinal issues but also social and philosophical issues of importance to Biblical Christians in today's rapidly changing world. We will be posting a new letter periodically, as the Lord leads, and will be offering the past messages in the archives linked below. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on these issues also. Your input is important.
Volume 2, Issue 5
in the Name of Jesus!
JOH 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we
do, that we might work the works of God?
JOH 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
ROM 9:30 What shall we say then? That the
Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the
righteousness which is of faith.
2CO 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
EPH 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
PHI 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
JAM 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
JAM 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith,
and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my
THE MESSAGE -
The foremost question of all time: "how are we saved?" To this question there are many answers but there is only one truth. Most religions (including psuedo-christianity) teach that one is saved by works, by living up to some standard written by men, by "social action", by church attendance (I go to church on Sunday so I must be a Christian), by partaking in certain religious rituals (baptism, communion, confirmation, pilgrimages, etc.), or worst, that we do not need to be saved at all. Biblical Christianity teaches not only that mankind is desperately fallen/lost and in need of salvation but also, that if we were to be saved by some works on our part, those works would have to meet God's standard of absolute perfection, an impossible goal. So again we ask the question, "how then are we saved?".
Let's take a look at Ephesians 2:8-9 to find the answer. "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." Sounds simple doesn't it? It is. Salvation is a free gift and, like with all gifts, all we need do is accept it. Wow!
Years ago there was a man on death row in one of our prisons. The man was scheduled for execution for his crimes when the governor of the state decided to extend clemency and commute the sentence allowing the man to live out his days. When the offer of clemency arrived at the prison the staff was stunned when the condemned man rejected the offer. Try as they may, the staff could not convince the man to accept the offer of clemency. The condemned man believed he deserved to be executed and stood firm. The amazed officials took the offer to the courts in hopes that the judge would enforce the offer over the convicts objections. Again, to their surprise the judge ruled that an offer of clemency was a gift that must be accepted. Ultimately the man was executed in accordance with his wishes and as a result of his choice to reject the governor's offer of mercy (grace).
We can do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus, by His death on the cross at Calvary did it all. He accepted the full punishment due us for our sin (rebellion against God) and opened the door that God can extend his Grace (our undeserved salvation) to all who will accept it. But, like the convict in the illustration, we too must accept God's offer. If you have not yet done so, do so today! In 2 Corinthains 6:2 the Word says that "today" is the day of salvation. Make is so. Accept Jesus today.
If you are not yet saved, or have doubts, you can find the simple salvation message and a prayer at http://go.to/truepeace .
Now the next question is "if we are not saved by works, why are they necessary in the Christian's life?". Good question.
The following is a simple biblical summary regarding our good works:
Works without faith are trash.
(Isaiah 64:6)(Ephesians 2:8)(Philippians 3:8)
Let's take a closer look.
Works without faith are trash. (Isaiah 64:6)(Ephesians 2:8)(Philippians 3:8)
We have seen that nothing we can do is good enough for God. His standards are simply too high. God says in Isaiah 64:6 that [annotation added] "... all our righteousness [good works] are as filthy rags". Paul, a Jew of Jew's and faultless according to the law says in Philippians 3:8-9 [annotations added] "... I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung [bull s...], that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [doing good works and/or religious rituals], but that which is through faith in Christ [alone]-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith [grace]". My mother-in-law gave me a small plaque that I keep hanging next to my desk. It reads:
Only one life,
"To me to live is Christ"
Sums it up pretty well doesn't it? If our good works are not done for Christ, they are garbage.
Next, let's look at -
Jesus said, in John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command." Like James, we all know "Christians" that give lip service to their salvation. They claim to be Christians, but they continue doing the same things they have always done. They just go on as though nothing has happened. This cannot be.
The early anabaptists used to teach that if a person is truly saved, there MUST be a life change. If we are truly saved the Spirit will call us to strive for Christlikeness in all things. We will want to follow the Lord in Baptism, we will be hungry for His Word and long for fellowship with other believers. We will not be able to tolerate sin in our lives and when we see another cold or hungry we will cloth and feed them as Jesus does. That we, believers/the church, are Christ's Body on earth is more than an analogy, it is truth. If our faith is real, we will act like it. We will strive to act like Him.
Faith unto works is true. (Ephesians 2:10) (James (1:27)(James 2:24)
What's your motive? The world does good works to their own ends. The believer also does good works, but those works flow from God and to His ends. Often there is little difference in the works to the observer's eye. The difference is in the heart attitude.
We all know wealthy philanthropists that do great works and then see their picture in the paper the next day. Just recently a well known man and his wife donated $10 million for aids medications in Africa and we applaud this work. We have all donated to some organization just because we are a member or bought candy, etc. from our kids to help them with some school project and this too is good. Many belong to social churches for business or professional reasons, spend an hour in church a couple of times a month, put $10 in the plate and go home feeling spiritual. I could go on forever.
Things were the same during Christ's earthly ministry. When Christ taught about faithfulness, did He point to the great philanthropists of the day? Did He point to the social believers, Pharisees and Sadducees? No, in Mark 12:43-44 He pointed out a poor widow that had just given a couple of bucks, saying: "Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." God knows the heart.
From one who's faith is true, Godly works will, indeed must, flow. We too will give sacrificially to feed and cloth the poor, to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to minister to the sick and those in prison. Some will be called to go, some will be called to stay, but all true believers are called to good works to the furtherance of Christ's Kingdom. James sums it up in chapter 2 verse 18 of his epistle when he says, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." Sounds good to me, go ye and do likewise.
To summarize: "How then are we saved?" We are saved by Grace (a free undeserved gift from God), through faith in Jesus Christ alone and His completed work on the cross at Calvary and resurrection from the dead. We are saved unto good works that God has prepared for us to do for His purposes.
And now, may "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Until next month, keep on lifting up the Name of Jesus!
God Bless you and yours
Find True Peace Today
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"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8 )