Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor
Salvation by Grace through Faith:
|Based upon the 4 articles below, Dr Matt has organized a comprehensive summary of 16 conditions
that Jesus set for receiving Salvation and Eternal Life. The article begins with the Question:
Since the followers of Christ from 31 to 34 A.D. did not have the writings of Paul,
were the teachings of Jesus alone, sufficient to lead believers to Salvation?
|This is the third in a series of four articles that clarifies the role of Faith, Works, and Grace in attaining
Salvation and Eternal Life. Doctrinal conclusions come from direct, in-context teachings of the Bible.
| 1 - Covenant Context of Salvation: God Saves Graciously as We Serve Faithfully
2 - The Works That I Do Shall Ye Do Also: Our Side of the Saving Covenant
3 - The Written Law of Christ: By Faith We Gain Access to the Lord's Grace
4 - Out-of-Context Controversies: Clarifying Conundrums within Context
The Law of the Spirit of Life..That we should worship God "in spirit" became a central theme of the New Covenant: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). This emphasis upon following the inward dictates of "heart" and "Spirit" was the impetus that gave birth to a much misunderstood idea called "Spirit of the Law" -- a concept that suffers from two common misconceptions:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me,
Christ's New Covenant calls for Outward & Inward Obedience. Jesus taught that the "first and great commandment" (Matt. 22:38) should be kept with "all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30).
In this admonition, the Savior expressed the importance of both the outward and inward integrity of our efforts to love God and fellowmen -- that our love is whole and unified. So, living "the law of the Spirit of life" means that inward intents of “an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) with “all humility of mind” (Acts 20:19) are added to outward “strength” of compassionate acts and charitable service.
Jesus implored, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Obeying the commandments outwardly is still the standard of the New Covenant. By loving God and others with complete purity of heart, we infuse the "Spirit of life" (Rev. 11:11) into the strength of good works.
Christ's New Covenant calls for a different standard compared to the Law of Moses and the outward observance of the "letter." In contrast, Christ's New Covenant goes beyond merely refraining from, for example, the act of adultery; but also admonishes avoidance of lustful thoughts of committing adultery. This is just one example of living the so-called "Spirit of the Law" as opposed to the "letter."
The "oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6) specifically refers to the Old Law established by Moses; in contrast, when lived according to His New Testament teachings, there really is no "letter" in the New Law declared by Christ. Why? Because obedience to "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4) must be lived with complete wholeness: "with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30).
The common misconception connected with with" the law of the Spirit of life" (Romans 8:2) somehow means, that one does not actually have to obey certain laws outwardly -- some assume that complete wholeness is not required in certain instances.
Jesus gave an example where having good inward intent counted for much, compared with lavish outward acts of apparent righteousness. In His parable, a widow who has very little to give, yet gives her all, "two mites." And because she gave with pure intent, and would have given more if she had more, her small offering was esteemed as being larger than offerings given by the wealthy. Jesus said:
"Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all
But notice in this example of inwardly good intentions, still, the widow gave more than just good intentions, she gave her all, just as the Lord requires: Heart, Might, Mind, Strength, and Soul -- according to the Law of the Spirit of Life.
Faithfulness Necessary But Not Sufficient. Paul taught the Romans an important principle:
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand" (Romans 5:1-2).
In this same sermon, Paul established, "even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21). Some assume that the "righteousness" spoken of in this verse, is our righteousness—and this is a likely interpretation in light of the following admonition from the Savior:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me,
Jesus established that true believers will "work the works of God" (John 6:28) and shine forth His Light directly through their "good works" (Matt. 5:16), and that only those that "doeth the will of my Father" will "enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Given the clear declarations of Jesus, it is abundantly obvious that doing God's work and will is necessary—it represents our part of the New Covenant (Hebrews 12:24).
However, it is ultimately His Righteousness that is first and foundational to obtaining eternal life. Why so? Because we are all beggars who have been bought by His precious blood—we have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23) and do not possess power to be worthy of ourselves, apart from His saving grace. Nevertheless, our righteousness is required by the terms of the New Covenent—set forth by the Savior himself.
Our righteousness is made sufficient through His Righteousness--His Redeeming Grace. Because the faithful will be rescued by His Grace, some foolishly fall into faulty logic: if we will inevitably fall short, we might as well take advantage of Grace by indulging in sin for a season. This rationalizing mindset is not pleasing to Jesus.
The Savior taught integrity! He proclaimed that the "first and great commandment" (Matt. 22:38) should be kept with "all" heart, mind, strength, and soul (Mark 12:30). In this admonition, the Savior expressed that our heartfelt efforts to love God and fellowmen should be whole and unified.
While our loving Lord graciously provides the source of living waters, we must exercise our God-given agency to come to the Source and drink of “the fountain of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6). And as we drink, “the righteousness of the law [is] fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).
But even though we diligently strive in righteousness, our fervent faith and heartfelt efforts inevitably fall short; Paul taught, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). Therefore, our believing in Christ and working the works of Christ will ever be insufficient without His merciful giving of grace; hence, all boasting is excluded, whether of good faith (Rom. 3:28) or good works (Eph. 2:9).
A) That all mankind is accountable before God for “that form of doctrine” that is delivered,
The Grace of God is extended to those who repent and faithfully do the works that Jesus did, with all heart, might, mind, and strength. Jesus “shall save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21) through repentance, but He will not save them in their sins (1 Cor. 6:9-10); not because God lacks the power to save “the servants of sin,” but to do so would violate the terms of the New Covenant for which Christ shed his precious blood. Paul taught:
Grace Makes Faithful Efforts Sufficient. A just God has promised that all humanity will reap a harvest proportionate to their sowing; further, “grace” is able to make “every good work” abound to “sufficiency” for the soul that “soweth bountifully” and is a ”cheerful giver” from “his heart.” (2 Cor. 9:6-8).
This does not mean that the workers win over the believers; those who “worketh good” are the true believers--and vice versa (John 6:29; &14:12). Again, to be reconciled to God, “walking in truth” (2 John 1:4) must be done with undivided wholeness: heart, might, mind, strength, and soul.
The 4th and final article in this series clarifies two particularly thorny Conundrums of Commonly Misinterpreted Passages that, on the surface and taken out-of-context, appear to exclude "good works" from the covenant equation—obviously "works" devoid of heartfelt faithfulness have always been excluded (Matt. 6:5,16).
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