Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saved by Faith and Living by Works?

The Four Follies and a Christian's Fitting Tribute

By Abraham Israel

There are a lot of people who have not yet understood salvation because of failing to understand the four type of follies that only leads them more in to error of destruction and lifeless living. The four are as follows,

1) A person can be saved by works.

2) A person can be saved by a mixture of faith and works.

3) A person can be saved by faith and keep himself saved by works.

4) A person can be saved even though he doesn't demonstrate any works.

All these preceding statements are categorically wrong. All the unbelievers who are involved in all of the four follies will either have to get saved through the narrow way of 'Saved only by Grace of God through faith in the sinless substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus'
(Matt 7:14; Eph 2:8-9) or else will get in to eternal seperation from God's goodness of eternal life and there after will be tormented in hell fire after the White Throne Judgment (Matt 7:13; 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43-44; Rev 20:11-15). As for the believers who have already got saved by "grace through faith" (Eph 2:8), who also knew deep inside the recess of their hearts that "according to His mercy He saved us" (Tit 3:5, b) when they first believed (Heb 11:6; Rom 13:11), but have been deceived by the four follies of the devil will lose much reward that God had originally planned for them (Heb 10:35; Rev 3:12). All the works done whether out of fear or self glory will completely go rewardless and will be repaid with low esteemed poition in the eternal kingdom of God (Col 3:23-25; Luke 12:8; Matt 10:32).

1) A person can be saved by works.

A person saved by works are the one who believes strongly that they are able to save themselves from the evil effect of sin by cancelling it through their own good works. All of the man made religion that tries to reach God in their own way uses this so-called method of salvation as the base in which they stand to gain eternal Salvation and go to heaven. But God says that it is all a vain hope.

All the religious "isms" like Hinduism, Islamism, Buddhism, Taoism... are a direct offshoot of this religious spirit of works that came to influence Cain after the fall of our forefather Adam in to sin
(Rom 5:19; Gen 4:2-7). Cain wanted to offer God what he had in abundantant availability and not what God wanted. God wanted all men from the beginning of the fall of our forefather Adam in to sin, to offer a blood sacrifice to cover their sin and have relationship with Him by faith. And in fact He demonstrated it to them in the Garden of Eden where He made atonement before their very eyes and clothed their spiritual and physical nakedness (Gen 3:21). All Cain had to do was to exchange his "fruit of the ground" for a lamb from his younger brother Abel and offer it to the Lord. This needs humility and Cain did not want it to be done God's way and took his own highway to hell (Phil 2:3; Gen 4:4-7, 16). In other words after the sin of pride have come in to the inherent nature of all humans born on earth, man has been deceived by the "spirit...of disobedience" (Eph 2:2) in to thinking that he can save himself from his sins by offering God whatever he likes. God hates our good works because it comes with a tainted mixture of spiritual gutter of sin which lives in all of us (Rom 7:17).

Isaiah the great Prophet says,
"But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isa 64:6). Jesus explained the problem in wearing rags through a parable by saying, "...No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old." (Luke 5:37). We cannot wear self-made works based righteousness to save ourselves from sin because God wants a 100% pure righteouness to accept man to Himself. He is so Holy that the Apostle James beautifully says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17). This "every perfect gift" includes the righteousness of God which is 100% pure and holy, untainted by sin because it is not based on one's self-made works but a free imputed righteousness from God which is given as a free gift based on obedience to God by faith (Rom 4:5-8). Man's righteouness can be 99.99% pure, but still that 0.01% of sin mixture is enough to completely contaminate the whole righteouness of any human and make it fall short below the 100% expectation of God's basic pass mark to get saved from sin and enter heaven. Man in his best state till now from creation has fallen short of God's expected pass mark to get saved from sin except through faith in God (Rom 3:23).

The Pharisees who lived during the time Jesus lived on earth were the most staunch and zealous followers of the man made works based salvation. I don't think anybody could be as religious as these Pharisees were. Jesus himself spoke about the zealous religiosity of these people by saying, "15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves...23...For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin". In other words these Pharisees were willing to die for converting just one more person and proselyte them in their own religion, they were careful enough to measure the smallest seeds used for cooking food in order to take one tenth of it and give it to God as an offering. You cannot find such zealous people even in our Christian circles, but some are there who live just like them even nowadays. Jesus did not rebuke even the vilest sinners who moved freely with Him because they realised that they were sinners in need of a Saviour and they believed that only Jesus could fulfill their aspiration for freedom from sin and give liberty from guilty conscience. But in oposition to Jesus were the Pharisees who thought they were so holy that they refused to have any fellowship with any sinners and they felt no need for a Saviour. They acted as their own saviours. They also did not like the message of Jesus to
"Repent and enter in order to the Kingdom of God" (Matt 4:17). This was a message which was directly in opposition to their "Salvation by works" theology they believed. This message of Jesus to "Repent" convicted them so much that they knew deep within the recesses of their heart that they were standing outside the kingdom of God (John 8:9; Prov 20:27), this infuriated them and made them more furious to make plans to kill Jesus (Matt 21:45-46; John 7:1; 5:18; 7:19, 25; 8:37, 40; Matt 26:3-4). Why were the Pharisees and religious Jews found the message of Jesus to "repent" from sin as totally unacceptable? Because of religious pride that gave them a "Holier than thou" attitude. Actually Jesus called them as Hypocrites [to know who is a hypocrite click this link] because all the works they did was not to please God, but to be seen as great spiritual men before people and to satisfy their own self with their so called righteous works (Matt 23:5). In other words, they wanted to be their own gods. The religious spirit is the most dangerous one to deceive a person and take them directly to hell fire. It will not allow them to even think for a minute that they are sinners who need a Saviour without which they will all end up in Hell Fire.

2) A person can be saved by a mixture of faith and works.

These kind of people are those who say that we need faith in God's salvation and also do the work of righteousness to justify ourselves before God and get saved from sin. The Bible clearly points out that it is
"5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7). This verse points out that it is foolish to think that both our works and faith can operate together to save us from sin. A real born-again person will know that he does not deserve to be saved because it was not by his own might, but God saved him and gave a clean conscience towards God and fellow humans (Heb 9:14). Many false religion and even christians are promoting these kind of doctrines which are satanic in origin, inorder to diminish the true power of God from reaching out to people to save them from sin (Col 2:16-23; Rom 1:16-17). Either we are saved by faith or by works, both cannot be right at the same time. God is in no partnership with any man to save them. God has clearly told that salvation is purely fulfilled by God Himself when He said in the Book of Isaiah 59:16, "... His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him." Now we know that because God has raised up Jesus and have justified Him to be righteous, we are saved and justified now through His blood and in the future we will be delivered from God's wrath through Him (Rom 5:9). He was raised from the dead as a substitute for us and therefore we have been raised from death and was justified [i.e. "Just as if we have never sinned"] before God to be righteous in Him (Acts 3:26; 13:23; Rom 4:24; 2 Cor 4:14; Eph 2:6).

There is a big warning that God has given to those who think that they are saved by a mixture of faith and works by saying,
"Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt." (Rom 4:4). Now God is no debtor to any man on earth, those who think like that are so deceived by their so called doings of religious works that they have done with their own might which has wearied them. God has not demanded such works as a prerequisite for salvation, then why do it and blame God at the end. It is indeed a satanic deceptions of religiosity.

Apostle Paul the apostolic theologian said,
"And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Rom 11:6). In other words, Apostle Paul was saying either you keep working for your salvation and be no longer saved or else receive salvation by faith and confess before God and men that you are not saved by your own works but purely by HIS GRACE and live joyfully as a righteous man by faith ever after (Rom 10:10; 1:17). So those who are having this kind of "mixture of faith and works" mindset for salvation should throw it away in the garbage and renew their mind with a brand new thinking of "THROUGH GRACE BY FAITH ALONE" thinking. The renewed new mindset will lead them further in the right way to eternal and abundant life, and will keep them from such deception further. This process of realising God's Grace in our salvation is called "GRACE AWAKENING" where we come to know deeply of God's grace and his free gift of salvation (Rom 5:18; Eph 2:8). Praise the Lord!

3) A person can be saved by faith and keep himself saved by works.

This folly comes to many believers who are truly saved but because of indoctrination get deceived in to living works based lifestyle to keep themselves saved. Many false teachers promote such wrong doctrines knowingly and some others because of not really experiencing the grace of God in their lives. Many who teach such doctrines are tyrants who want to keep their followers in fear so that they may not get away from them. Such teaching have selfish ambition hidden behind it and is therefore not right in the sight of God. Those who shepherd God's flock in this way will lose their eternal reward because all their works will get burned on the day of judgment for believers
(Php 1:13-18; 2:3-4; 1 Cor 3:13-15).

Exactly this problem was experienced by Apostle Paul himself who felt great pain in seeing the apostolic Galatian believers indoctrinated by the false teachers who secretly visited and deceived them. All these Galatian believers were those for whom he had painstakingly laboured in birth until Christ was formed in them
(Gal 4:19). Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Galatians vividly to the deceived first century apostolic Galatian Church which he planted with great personal sacrifice and much effort (Gal 4:13).

Apostle Paul used hard language towards his Galatian apostolic children's but not without a heart cry of love to make them realise their folly. Hear what Paul the Apostle said to them,
"1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying,“In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." (Gal 3:1-7). Here Apostle Paul does not threaten the Galatian believer that they will lose salvation because of trying to keep themselves perfected by their works, but in fact he was reminding them that after they were saved they went through many sufffering from the world and their surrounding society for their belief. Now if they try to do works for keeping themselves saved, all their suffering will become useless because it will fetch them no reward ahead. He is exhorting all the Galatian believers to continue in their faith as they are the true sons of Abraham by faith. He is also refering to the life of Abraham to remind them that Gospel justified him by faith when he believed God and as a result of it he enjoyed a fruitful relationship with God that made him to do great works. The faith within Abraham made him to suffer in the natural through which He inherited all of God's blessing and have thus become a blessing to all nations. Paul was emphasising that God has much reward and blessing for them just like for Abraham in all the realms of their existence eternally, for all those suffering of faith which they go through if only they continue by faith patiently (Heb 10:32-36).

Those who try to keep themselves saved and perfect themselves by their own works will lose their great reward in their future life beyond their physical death. This is the reason Apostle John in Chapter 3 of revelation which he wrote prophetically from the lips of Jesus says,
"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown." (Rev 3:11). In other words, it means even though God has already prepared great rewards specifically just for us, we may lose it if we are not really living a lifestyle of faith. God will take those which were supposedly our reward and give it to the one who deserves it (Matt 25:14-30).

Wake up saints! From the day we are saved to the day we will enter heaven, everthing is based on our faith. But the works we do by co-operating with the Holy Spirit of God through faith, will be rewarded eternally on the day of judgment of reward for all believers
(2 Cor 5:10-11). In short it means, we are not saved by our good works but for good works [i.e. Saved to Serve God as His Sons and Daughters] (Eph 2:10).

4) A person can be saved even though he doesn't demonstrate any works.

This is one of the biggest lies of all that the devil will bring more and more in to Christianity to make it a powerless one especially during the end times we live. Apostle Paul warned of such a thing that might happen during the end of end times when he said,
"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Tim 3:1-5). These people are those who will say with their mouth that they believe in Jesus and are saved, but their life and actions will be totally without the fruit of the Spirit. Those who are not born again will not have the ability to produce the fruit of the Spirit even though they might profess a form of godliness. If peoples character do not show christlikeness it is better to stay away from them because as the Bible says, "Bad friendship corrupts good habits" (1 Cor 15:33).

We see the same nature in the false prophets of whom Jesus told will claim of a mighty ministry done while here on earth in Jesus name. In
Matt 7:15-20, Jesus clearly warned all true believers to identify these ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing [i.e. which is nothing but the mantle of their ministry calling and God's mighty anointing that is present over their lives] by their fruit. False Prophets are not really born again and therefore they cannot bear the good fruits of God (Gal 5:22-23). In other words they do not have the ability within them to bear fruit for the GLORY OF GOD and therefore were thrown out of the real sheepfold at the end of their lives (Luke 13:6-9; Matt 21:18-19). So when these so called great and mighty false prophets end up saying, "Lord, Lord..have we not done" during the final White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), they are appealing vindication from all sins based on the fleshly works they have done. What a foolish folly. Whereas "Salvation is purely based on one's faith". Praise God for giving us the understanding that we are not saved by our works but by our faith in Christ Jesus (John 6:39-40).

A question may arise in your mind now, "How can a man who did great signs and wonders in Jesus name can do with out being saved?" Ministry anointing is a sheep's clothing that comes freely upon a person based on his calling that God has given him before he was even born
(Jer 1:5). The Bible says that God does not change His mind to revoke someone's calling to ministry just because he/she is misusing his calling to build a buisness empire on earth and does his work with a attitude that he owns the anointing (Rom 11:29). This was the folly Jesus spoke about in his "Parable of the Talents." The servant with one talent took the talent that God gave him and hid it in the ground thinking that it was his own. This man never knew the real character of his master as he had no realtionship with him or even expected that he would in the end ask him to give an account of what he did with the talent that He had given him to do buisness. This servant was accusing the master who gave him the talent as a hard man. Why? He was not really saved (Matt 25:30). The real profitable servants know that they are unprofitable servants to their good master, but the real unprofitable servants who are wicked and lazy know only that his master as the hard man because their hearts are full of jealousy, coveteousness and pride (Luke 17:10; Matt 25:24). Those people who act in a wicked way and just profess faith with their mouth are not really saved, as we see with the life of Judas who was called to be one of the 12 aposlte of Lamb (Luke 6:13-16; Rev 21:14). Judas must have done mighty signs and even must had driven demons out of people and preached the kingdom of God successfully with the imparted anointing of Jesus when He sent them all to do a apostolic mission trip by proclaiming the New Kingdom Message and manifesting the Kingdom Power that was released through KING JESUS (Luke 9:1-2, 6; 10). But do you know that He was not saved till he died, he had no spiritual relationship with Jesus even though Jesus tried to make him realise his folly many times (John 6:70-71; 1 John 3:6-9). Judas never got saved but just like it is described in the Bible, he did a mighty apsotolic ministry. He never stopped to sin and was full of coveteousness, pride and selfish amibition, he never came to realise that he was a sinner in need of the Saviour Jesus, instead he was continuing in his secret robbery (John 12:6). This clearly points out that a powerful ministry is not necessarily an authentication for God's approval of a man as his child, but it is only a sign that the person has been called by God to do this work. As we have seen, a person can do the miracles of God without even himself being saved if he is really called by God to that particular ministry. At the same time it is dangerous for such a person to continue in the ministry with that state of mind deceiving others and being deceived himself by his own hypocrisy.

So the bottom line is, any saved person will always demonstrate good works through their life lived on earth after being saved. In fact Apostle Paul when writing to his apostolic son Titus, have clearly exhorted him saying, "... I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men." (Titus 3:8). This shows that Paul the Apostle himself who is a cheif activist of Grace theology, have clearly expressed his intention to see that the believers are careful to work out their good works which are profitable and rewarding to them for eternity ahead.

A Christian's Fitting Tribute 

The only fitting tribute to the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus that we can give to him is when we start to trust in the veracity of the salvation acheived on our behalf. Nothing can be added to the finished work of salvation on the Cross or nothing can be substracted from it. Infact, Jesus just before givin up his spirit in to the hands of the Father God in heaven, he cried out victoriously
"It is finished." (John 19:30). If some more things have to be added to the work of the salvation that Jesus has achieved for us on the Cross, he would not have placed a full stop for all the works forever by saying "It is finished." He would have said, "If is finished, but a little more works you do and complete it." It is so foolish to try to work out by our flesh the salvation of our souls, when all the works have been done once forever by Jesus and has been accepted by God the Father in heaven.

Just hear the great writing of the writer to the Hebrews, who describes this scenario beautifully by saying, "
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Heb 10:11-14). This above verses brings a powerful truth in to our visiblity. Jesus death on the cross is a one time sacrifice for sins forever. It means right from the day our forefather Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden to the last person who will sin just before the end of the Millenial rule of Jesus Christ, they all have been forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross if only they have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour of their life. Not only all the believers are forgiven, but also in the eyes of God we are already perfected through our Lord Jesus Christ. Father God considers us as perfect before Him because He sees us through JESUS. Because He sees us through the perfect righteousness of Jesus, He is able to see us as what we will become in Jesus at the end of our lives rather than what we are right now. Glory be to God!

Now what we can do to bring GLORY to God is to serve Him and live for Him by faith in Christ Jesus. When we choose to live a life of thankgiving and praise to His name, God considers all our works as a sacrice that we do for Him personally and he rewards us for eterntiy ahead
(Heb 13:15; Col 3:23-24).

John Wesley the great man of God whose writing and preachings provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement and the Holiness movement says about 'Salvation by Faith' beautifully by saying, 

"All the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man are of his mere grace, bounty, or favour; his free, undeserved favour; favour altogether undeserved; man having no claim to the least of his mercies. It was free grace that "formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul," and stamped on that soul the image of God, and "put all things under his feet." The same free grace continues to us, at this day, life, and breath, and all things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God's hand. "All our works, Thou, O God, hast wrought in us." These, therefore, are so many more instances of free mercy: and whatever righteousness may be found in man, this is also the gift of God." 

So striving never produces salvation and never will. It is faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ that bring the assurance of salvation is us (1 John 5:13). Actually the very fact that we cannot save ourselves from sin should be a true source of joy for us because we can now receive it freely as a gift from God. The great Martin Luther who is the Protestant founder for us all asked this joyful question about salvation to us all in a wonderful way by saying, "Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?" Yes indeed that is why it is also called the good news of salvation. It is free and can be received by any one who chooses to believe in Jesus (John 6:40).

When people try to say that even faith is a sort of work that we must do in order for God to move upon us, they have really misunderstood faith. The 20th century beloved pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, and spiritual mentor of many many people explained the nuances of salvation in an awesome way by quoting, "Salvation is from our side a choice; from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God. Our accepting and willing are reactions rather than actions."

May God help us all to live by faith and not add work of any kind to the completed salvation of Jesus Christ. May such faith please God to do much for us and makes us a blessing to all the families of the earth. Praise the Lord!


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