Faith, Redemption, Grace, Works and Salvation

Saved By Grace Through Faith

We have all earned death as the penalty, the "wages" for our past sins:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

We'd all be hopelessly lost, condemned to die for our past sins, except for this one thing: we can be redeemed from the death sentence we've earned. That redemption is available by grace through the ransom payment Jesus made available when He died on the cross, His death for ours. Jesus said he came "to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many":

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt 20:28, fulfilling the prophecy in Hosea 13:14)

The ransom is the work Jesus finished on the cross. Now we can each be redeemed IF we'll repent: choose to turn from sin, turn from sin that earned us the death penalty in the first place.

Many are teaching that grace means being forgiven and redeemed and saved because Jesus, they say, "did it all for us on the cross." They say all we have to do is have faith that Jesus did it all for us and we'll be "saved" right then and there. No repentance required. It's called "easy believism" and yes, it's easy to believe, but it's not true.

No, the grace is this: Jesus gave His life as a ransom so that if we'll obey and repent, choose to turn from sin, we can have redemption from the death penalty earned for past sins. That's what the grace is. We now have hope: we are no longer hopelessly doomed to perish for our past sins. I said "obey" because God "now commands all men every where to repent":

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent. (Acts 17:30)

Jesus' warning, "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" makes perfect sense (Luke 13:3,5). If we choose not to repent, there is no redemption for us and we will surely perish in death as the "wages" for our sin.

But even if we repent - choose to turn from sin - we will still be the same sinners by nature. But because we've obeyed and chosen to turn from sin, God will help us with our sin problem. How? God gives His spirit "to them that obey Him":

And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.  (Acts 5:32).

Through the holy spirit Jesus leads us out of slavery to sin. This requires that we abide in Him (John 15:1-6) and that we continue to be committed to repentance.

Jesus finished the ransom on the cross, but His work is not finished. Jesus has not retired. Even now Jesus is at work, as you can see from His statement to the churches, many years after His resurrection:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

This sanctification, this ongoing relationship with Him, "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). This is how we become the "new man" Paul wrote about in Ephesians 4. This is how we are readied, made fit, to inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9,10) and to be sons and daughters in the Father's eternal family. There is no other way but through Jesus.

The common idea that our sins have been forgiven and covered up because of what Jesus did on the cross is totally incorrect. The idea that all our sins - past, present and future - have already been forgiven is preposterous. None of our sins are forgiven unless and until we confess and repent: choose to turn from sin. The apostle John makes it very clear that our sins are not all forgiven, and that we must confess to be forgiven:

IF we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:19)

Who gets mercy? Here's the answer:

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

Forgiveness for our past sins is available as we repent. Through the ransom Jesus made on the cross we can be redeemed from the death penalty earned for our past sins as we repent. A repentant person has been "purged from his old sins" as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:9.

The real gospel is not the "do nothing" gospel of easy believism, teaching that Jesus "did it all for you on the cross so now there's nothing you need to do." Jesus asks "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).

The real gospel is not a "do nothing" gospel: Jesus calls on us to follow His example and overcome,  just as He overcame:

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev 3:21)

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.  (Rev 2:11)

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  (Rev 21:7)

Faith

We are not saved by faith. We are saved by grace, through faith. It is through faith that we come to choose to repent and seek God. Without faith that God exists and is responsive, no one would be bothered to repent and seek Him:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith alone is not enough. Abraham was promised blessings if he would leave home and journey to the promised land. Without faith, he would have shrugged off the promises as unreal and that would have been the end of the story.

But even with faith Abraham could have said to himself, "Well, even though I trust God's promises I'd really rather stay home, in my comfort zone, so I'm not leaving." Would he have received the promises? Of course not.

Abraham obeyed. He acted on his faith. He left home, journeyed to the promised land and received the blessings. Through faith he realized he had a real choice to make, and then he chose to obey. The Lord explained to Abraham's son Isaac that Abraham received the promised blessings because of his obedience:

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.  (Genesis 26:5)

The apostle James wrote "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Abraham's obedience was his "works." He believed in the true, complete sense of the word "believe": he acted on his faith.

So it is with us today. We are called to confess and forsake sin, and to seek God and do His will. If we'll obey we be forgiven and redeemed from the death penalty earned for past sins. We'll receive His spirit: Jesus will lead us out of slavery to sin and into His righteousness IF we'll abide in Him, continuing in repentance. It is only through Him that we can be overcomers.

In this mortal life those who are abiding in Jesus have the hope of salvation. They hope to receive the promised gift of eternal life at Jesus' return, as Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Upon actually receiving eternal life, they will have been saved: saved from ever perishing through death.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life." (1 John 2:25)
 
"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:8,9)

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