Frequently Asked Questions
 

 

 

What is the meaning of the term "born again?"
When and how is a person born again?
When and how is a person saved?
I know I've had an experience with the Lord, or a touch from the Lord, but I've never spoken in tongues. If I'm not born again or saved, then what am I?
If the baptism of the Spirit is the only way that anyone can get into the body of Christ, then why do we see instances in the Scriptures where it says things like "the same day there were added unto them (the early believers) about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41), but yet nothing is said about any of them being baptized with the Spirit or speaking with tongues?
Is financial and earthly abundance, in the lives of those who profess faith in Christ, an indication of faith and righteousness?
Will the bride of Christ be caught up to meet Him before the time of great tribulation, during that time, or afterward?
Is Satan the one who is responsible for the bad things that happen to God's people?
Is it true that as believers in Christ we are all just sinners saved by grace?
Seeing that the Bible says we are not saved by works, will we as believers be judged according to our works, even as the rest of the world?


Q.
What is the meaning of the term "born again"? Top

A. "Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:5). He immediately explained what He meant by saying "that which is born of the flesh (in a watery womb) is flesh (the natural man); and that which is born of the Spirit (meaning God's Spirit) is spirit" (our spirit being). So the first birth is obviously the natural birth ("of the flesh"), and the born again experience takes place if and when our spirit is "born of the (God's) Spirit" by faith in Christ.

Q. When and how is a person born again? Top

A. We see clearly by Jn. 3:5,6 that the new birth experience is by means of one receiving the Spirit of God into his/her life. We also see by Jn. 3:3 that only by means of the new birth can one see the kingdom of God. Now the kingdom of God is clearly defined for us in Rom. 14:17 as being "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the holy Ghost." This further confirms that receiving the holy Ghost and being
born again are one and the same experience. II Cor. 5:17 states that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:" (by means of a new birth). So we see that whoever is "in Christ" has gotten there by means of the new birth. It actually comes down to how and when one gets into Christ.

There are three scriptures which directly state the means by which one gets into Christ: Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27 and I Cor. 12:13. All three of these passages declare that it is baptism which puts us into Christ. And I Cor. 12:13 specifies that it is certainly the baptism of the holy Ghost; not water baptism, that makes us a member of the spiritual body of Christ, or the one true Congregation of the Lord. So without dispute, the same
baptism of the holy Ghost, which Jesus referred to as "the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4,5), is the one and only new birth experience which has been made available, and required, by God. Without it, we are said by the Scriptures to be "none of His" (Rom 8:9). And the experience is always, as it was originally, initially witnessed or evidenced by speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.

Q. When and how is a person saved? Top

A. The word "saved" is the most misunderstood and misused biblical term of all. It must be understood that there are various contexts in the Bible in which this term is used. When Israel crossed the Red Sea and the Egyptians were drowned therein, the scripture states "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians" (Exd. 14:30). Knowing that Egyptian bondage was symbolic of the bondage to sin that we were born in, we see by the Scriptures that we are saved from all of our previous sins if and when we are born again (Spirit baptized) by faith in Christ (Mat. 1:21; Titus 3:5; Mk. 16:16; I Pet. 3:21; I Cor. 6:11). This usage of the term "saved" is referring to our conversion to Christ, not our salvation. It also must be understood that the scriptures listed here referring to baptism saving us are certainly speaking of the baptism of the Spirit, not water baptism. Jude made certain that this context of the term "saved" would not be misinterpreted to mean that we have automatic eternal salvation just because we have experienced the new birth: "I will put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not" (i.e. those who ceased demonstrating true faith).

The context in which the term "saved" refers to eternal salvation, is one in which we are made to understand throughout the Scriptures, that only by continuance in doing the will of God can we be saved, or inherit eternal life and immortality. Time and space limit me to quoting a few key scriptures: "for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (were born again-Rom. 13:11); "To an inheritance ... reserved in heaven for you, who are kept (from sin) by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (after this life) ...receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (I Pet. 1:4,5,9); "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mat. 24:12,13).

Other references confirming this truth include Philip. 2:12; Heb. 3:6,14; Heb. 12:14; Rom. 8:24,25; I Thess. 5:8; Titus 2:11,12; Heb. 2:3; Heb. 10:28-30; Acts 15:11; Isa. 25:9; and Jer. 8:20. Scriptures which refer to believers as presently saved, such as I Cor. 1:18; I Cor. 15:2; II Cor .2:15; and Eph. 2:5, can be more accurately translated as saying that we are being saved; meaning that everyone who has been born of the Spirit of God is in the process of being saved as long as they are continuing in a life of holiness (meaning a pure heart). If we discontinue holiness, then we forsake the "hope of salvation" unless and until we
repent and get back to holiness. Period. Many of the scriptures we have listed here reaffirm this truth with absoluteness.

Every reference to the term "saved" in the Bible, where it regards deliverance or salvation, falls into one of these contexts, and the reader must be able to distinguish, through honest observation and study, which context they are reading in. Also, the universally recognized phrase "get saved" or "got saved" is totally unscriptural and erroneous, and was designed by Satan to undermine the true work of Christ, and to lead souls to accept the erroneous school of thought known as "
eternal security," or "once saved always saved."  And that particular spirit and doctrine has been very successful at stopping many short of the real new birth experience, and also of smothering the growth and fruitfulness of those who do receive the Spirit.

Q. I know I've had an experience with the Lord, or a touch from the Lord, but I've never spoken in tongues. If I'm not born again or saved, then what am I? Top

A. The spiritual truths of God have always been brought out and revealed by means of natural similitudes (see Rom. 1:20). The truth of the new birth is no different. In the natural realm, a baby is conceived in a woman well before birth. From the time of conception until the time that the birth takes place, a baby has many life experiences such as movement, receiving nutrition, and maybe even hearing. If natural processes continue, the baby will eventually be born and become a citizen of this world. But if something happens to prevent the birth, the baby will never be recognized as a citizen of this life.

Jesus used this likeness to demonstrate to His disciples their spiritual condition while He was yet with them (Jn. 16:20-22). He referred to them as a conceived child and also as the expectant mother. Both applied to them because their new birth experience, which was yet to come at Pentecost, would establish them as the mother (the body of Christ) and as the children that would be born, seeing they were the beginning of the new testament Household of God.

The record of the conversion of the Samaritans in Acts chapter 8 is an excellent reference for confirmation of this truth. The Samaritans experienced faith, deliverance, healing and great joy through the preaching and ministry of Phillip, but they did not receive the holy Ghost until Peter and John came from Jerusalem to lay hands on them and pray for them to receive it; at which time they were baptized with the Spirit. And it is quite evident that they spoke with tongues and were visibly moved and changed powerfully, even though these things are not specifically mentioned. Otherwise Simon the sorcerer, a man greatly intrigued with the supernatural, would not have reacted as he did, offering money in order to possess the power that he saw manifest on the Samaritans when Peter and John laid hands on them. Had they not received this experience they would not have had the
remission of their sins, nor would they have been in the body of Christ (I Cor. 6:11; Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 12:13; Titus 3:5). Hosea, in prophecy said the Lord would give His people "a miscarrying womb and dry breasts" (Hos. 9:14) for their sins. This prophecy has certainly been fulfilled among God's people, as false teachings like "getting saved," "accepting the Lord," "confessing Jesus," "repeating the sinners prayer," etc. have replaced the truth about the new birth; thus stopping many souls short of the true born again experience. And many other false teachings, as well as these, have deprived those who have been baptized with the Spirit of "the sincere milk of the Word."

Q. If the baptism of the Spirit is the only way that anyone can get into the body of Christ, then why do we see instances in the Scriptures where it says things like "the same day there were added unto them (the early believers) about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41), but yet nothing is said about anyone being baptized with the Spirit or speaking with tongues? Top

A. The best way to answer this question is through a common sense scenario comparison. Let's think about someone who is sitting outside of a movie theater watching people go into the theater, and afterward writes about what he observed. Mostly what he would say in his writing would be something like this: "The first fifteen minutes that I sat there, I must have seen a hundred and fifty people file into the theater." But if he were to momentarily focus on a few select people that he saw making their way into the movie, he might say something more like this: "This one particular family that I saw seemed to be really eager to get in. After purchasing their tickets they all moved anxiously ahead, stretching their arms out in front of them toward the ticket taker, as though they might get in just a little bit sooner if they could just reach a little further. After having their tickets taken, they quickly moved ahead in anticipation of getting the best seats possible."

The point is this: If this individual sat outside the theater for thirty minutes watching a multitude go through the lines buying their movie tickets, and having them collected, it's certain that he is not going to describe in specific detail exactly how each person got into the movie theater; though in a few cases he probably would. This is exactly what took place with the writers of the new testament scriptures, particularly Luke in the book of Acts, who wrote about so many events. It is certain that the Scriptures cannot lie, seeing that they are inspired by God. And it is just as certain that the Scriptures inform us that the baptism of the
Spirit is the way that we get into the body of Christ (I Cor.  12:13). But it would surely be an exhausting effort, to say the least, for someone to write specifically of how each and every person out of three thousand went about receiving the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking with tongues. It would also be ridiculously repetitive, like beating a dead horse.

On the other hand, it is quite revealing how that in several instances he did break down the details for us so that we would be assured of the God ordained method by which any and every person becomes a member of the body of Christ (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 8:1-19; Acts 10:34-46; Acts 19:1-6). And it is equally revealing how that through these several instances where Luke focused on just how certain people entered God's Congregation, that it lines up perfectly with the Apostle Paul's statement in I Cor. 12:13, regarding how we get into the the body of Christ. This same principal runs true in cases such as the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts ch. 8, the woman Lydia and the Philippian jailor, both in Acts 16, where some details are provided specifically, but it still doesn't mention the baptism of the Spirit or speaking with tongues. Once this experience was given from heaven, it never changed; and it has always been the only way into the body of Christ, regardless of whether or not it is graphically described every time it says that someone believed on the Lord, or was added to the number of His people, or whatever the case might be. See our page on The Witness of Speaking With Other Tongues for a detailed explanation of how the apostles and early elders were well aware of this reality.
 

Q. Is financial and earthly abundance, in the lives of those who profess faith in Christ, an indication of faith and righteousness?  Top

A. Because of widespread teaching and belief among God's people that the answer to this question is yes, I deem it necessary to address the issue in short order. First of all, in very short order, the answer is absolutely and unequivocally, NO! To attempt to assess the spiritual state of anyone by any earthly means is totally unwise and nonsensical in the sight of God. The only way the
spiritual condition of anyone is truly evaluated (by God) is by the spiritual and moral quality of their life, according to their degree of subjection to the Spirit of God.

Actually there is more evidence in the Scriptures to suggest that the presence of worldly abundance in one's life is evidence of unrighteousness, and not righteousness (Psm. 73:3,11,12; Job 21:7-15; Jer. 5:28; Jer. 12:1,2; Psm. 49:16-20; Jas. 5:1-5; Ezek. 16:49, just to name a few). In reality, riches do not denote faith and righteousness, any more than poverty signifies unrighteousness. And for that matter, poverty does not indicate righteousness, nor does plentifulness of means necessarily reveal unrighteousness in someone's life. Again, it is all about where someone is in their heart with God. It would be wise to note however, the words of Jesus, Who said "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Lk. 12:34).

The popular "prosperity" doctrine that we see today is no new trick of the Devil. The book of Job is thought to be the oldest book in the Bible, and it shows very clearly that Job's erroneous persecutors were heavily steeped in this school of thought (Job 8:6,7; ch. 15:29; ch. 22:23-25; etc.). They believed wrongly, like so many are being told to believe today, that good things happen to the righteous, and bad things happen to the unrighteous. These would be wise to heed the wisdom of Solomon, who said that sometimes things go exactly opposite of that (Eccl. 8:14). Two outstanding examples of this reality are Lazarus, from the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, told by Jesus in Luke 16; where the man with nothing on earth was saved after death, and the man of means on the earth was lost after death; both being of the household of God. And the other being the leader of the assembly in Smyrna to whom Jesus sent His message by the hand of John, saying to this man "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich...)" (Rev. 2:9). And shortly thereafter Jesus sent to the Pastor at Laodicea, informing him that he was "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" though his earthly state was "rich, and increased with goods, and [in] need of nothing" (Rev. 3:17).

But even more specifically to the point, the Apostle Paul addressed this very issue, and erroneous school of thought, in one of the most powerful (but vastly overlooked) passages of scripture in the Bible; in I Tim. 6, where he informed us that those who teach that "gain is godliness" are perverse, corrupt, and destitute of the truth. And again it would be very wise to note that he admonished us to withdraw from such. He also went on to give us the true definition of divine prosperity, saying that "godliness with contentment is great gain." Contentment with what? you might ask. "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (I Tim. 6:5-8). And to these words agreed Jesus in Mat. 6:25-33 where He commanded us to put priority on the things which pertain to the kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17), and all that we need on earth will be added unto us. And it is very interesting how that He mentioned only food and raiment as being "all these things."

The so called ministers of the Gospel who teach this indulgent prosperity doctrine have perverted the words of the living God, howbeit in the guise of promoting the work of the Lord, which also is no new thing (Hos. 4:18; Mat. 15:5). Philippians 4:19 tells us that "my God shall supply all your NEED according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Through subtlety and cunning craftiness they have caused God's people to believe that the scripture actually states that "my God shall supply all your WANTONNESS according to YOUR riches and glory in Christ Jesus." What they should be teaching is the admonition of Hebrews 13:5, which states thusly: "Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have." Beloved, it's high time for us to "Prove all things; [and]
hold fast that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21).

Q. Will the bride of Christ be caught up to meet Him before the time of great tribulation, during that time, or afterward? Top

A. This is not a difficult question to answer as long as we are looking at what is in the Bible, rather than what isn't in the Bible; in regard to the subject. In I Thess. 4:15-17 we are told that the faithful, both dead and living, will be caught up to meet the Lord at His coming, when He "descends from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God..."
In I Cor. 15:51,52 we are again told that the elect, both dead and living shall be changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we (the living) shall be changed." And to be sure that this resurrection and change takes place at the Lord's appearing and coming, we have I Jn. 3:2 which states the same.

Now in Matt. 24: 29-31 we see very clearly that the elect of God will be gathered (or caught up) to meet Jesus at His appearing and coming, which, as the scripture states, is "immediately after" the time of great tribulation. This passage also states that this event will be accompanied by "a great sound of a trumpet." From this passage we also see that everyone on earth will see the Lord at this time, and mourn (because they will realize that they have been deceived, and that it's too late to change it).

In light of the plain facts set forth by these passages of scripture, the only way that there could be a rapture of the bride before Jesus comes visibly from heaven to destroy the wicked, is if there are actually two separate visible appearings and two separate second comings of the Lord; and these things simply do not exist in the Bible. What we have seen already from the Scriptures is that His appearing is at His coming, and this is when the bride is caught up to meet Him.

In Daniel 7:21,25, we are told that the man known as "the Beast" in the book of Revelation will make war with the saints, and prevail over them for "a time and times and the dividing of time," which is to say three and a half years. To this we can add Rev. 13:5,7 where we are told that the Beast will be given power to "continue forty two months" (three and a half years), and that he will "make war with the saints, and overcome them." In Matt. 24:15-24, in describing that same time period when the Beast and his "false prophet" are in full power, deceiving the world with "great signs and wonders," Jesus said plainly that "except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." It was this period that Jesus referred to as the time of the greatest tribulation in the history of the planet. And you may note that He did not say that the elect's time on the earth would be shortened by a secret catching away, but rather that the time remaining in the earth before his second coming would be shortened for their sakes. Honestly I can't think of anything that I'd rather be wrong about, but I have no choice but to believe the things that can be positively confirmed by consistency of scripture.

Now all of these things are evident, consistent scriptural realities. What cannot be found in the Bible however, is any secret rapture of the bride of Christ before the actual visible coming of the Lord to destroy the wicked (most of them anyway) and to set up His thousand year reign on earth, which is certainly after the time of "great tribulation." The coming of the Lord, in fact, is what will end the period of great tribulation. I know it's a cheery thought for one to believe he or she will escape the greatest persecution of the saints in all of history, but the truth is that one will have to die before that time comes, in order to do so. There is no scripture to substantiate the afore mentioned school of thought. Everyone who cleaves to that belief is putting themselves at risk to be deceived by the Beast and receive his mark.

I'm aware that many read this "pre-tribulation" or "mid-tribulation" rapture into certain passages in Revelation that do appear to be implying such (Rev. 4:4; Rev. 7:9-15; Rev. 14:14-16; Rev. 15:1,2; Rev.19:1). But these scriptures can only give speculation to that thinking if one believes that the book of Revelation is a book of continual chronological sequence from beginning to end, which it is not. And in any event, these passages that seem to imply this, certainly cannot alter the consistency and definitiveness of the scriptures that have been stated here that actually describe the catching up of the saints at the Lord's appearing and coming. And to be certain, revealed truths of God are never confirmed by seeming implication, but rather by consistent evidence of the Scriptures. May we humble ourselves to God, that He may allow us the grace to be prepared for such a time!

Q. Is Satan the one who is responsible for the bad things that happen to God's people?  Top

A. As with every Bible topic, we need to let the Scriptures answer this very important question for us. And even more pointedly, let's tap into the mind-sets of some of the wisest and most significant  people of faith in all the Bible, to see what they understood about this issue. Joseph is someone who had to endure great suffering by means of the malicious spirits of unjust men, but he consistently confirmed that it was God, and God alone Who brought him into great affliction for a very wise and good purpose (Gen. 45:5; Gen. 50:18-20). He never blamed the devil or even his brothers for the things that he was made to suffer. David was another example of this truth. When an enemy bitterly cursed him and cast stones at him, hurling misguided accusations in his direction, David plainly stated that God was the one Who had sent this man to curse him (II Sam. 16:5-13). Like Joseph, he never mentioned the devil even once. He knew Whose hands his life was in, for better or for worse, and he knew how great and all-encompassing those hands were and are.

Job also knew and understood the true omnipotence of God. After suffering unheard-of calamity in a day's time, he painfully and humbly worshipped God, acknowledging that He alone was able to bring either good or bad upon his life (Job 1:20-22). And after suffering further pain and loss, when his friends/persecutors came to him, neither he or they ever confessed anything other than God being responsible for the great affliction suffered by Job. In fact the first chapter of Job actually shows how God used Satan in this particular situation to carry out His own determination, and also how that Satan confessed and understood that only God could decide what could happen to Job, whether for good or for evil (bad). Job graphically confesses his knowledge of this powerful divine reality in Job 23:13-15.

Jesus certainly suffered greatly at the hands of unjust men, and He had full assurance of Who was in charge of His afflictions: "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" ... "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (Mat. 26:39; Jn. 18:11) And also: "Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:" (Jn. 19:10,11). Peter also agreed that Jesus' sufferings were ordained and brought to pass by "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23).

The Scriptures continually bear witness to us that God is in full control of all of His creation at all times, and that He uses it all to carry out His own unfathomably wise and righteous purposes (Rom. 13:1; Eph. 1:11; I Pet. 3:22; Psm. 62:11; Psm. 105:7; Job 12:9-25; etc., etc.). The Bible also constantly confirms that God is the only power Who can bring either good things or bad things to pass at any time (Lev. 26:14-42; Deut. 28:15-68; Job 2:10; Psm. 119:75; Eccl. 7:14; Isa.45:7; Lam. 2:1-8, 17; Hos. 6:1; Amos 3:6; Jonah 1:4, 15-17; etc. etc.). The only way that "all things (can) work together for good to them that love God," is if a good God is continually in control of all things. And being the creator of all things, there really is no other possibility. So we need to stop blaming the devil and anyone else for our hardships, adversities, etc., and start realizing that we are called to be a tried and proven people, and that it is the Lord alone who tries us, as Job said, "every moment;" for the purpose of our betterment across the board (James 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5; I Pet. 4:12, 13; Psm. 11:5; Psm. 66:10-12; Job 7:18; etc., etc.). You can further reference this divine truth in our article called Faith and Politics.

Q.  Is it true that as believers in Christ we are all just sinners saved by grace?  Top

A.  In order to answer this question with biblical accuracy we first need to define what a believer in Christ truly is. Jesus said in Jn. 7:37-39 that those who believe on Him according to the scriptural definition of faith would receive the baptism of the holy Ghost. Galatians 3:14 agrees that faith in Christ produces the reception of the Spirit of God in one's life. According to I Cor. 6:11 and Titus 3:5, receiving God's Spirit washes us from our sins, justifies us, sanctifies us, and gives us regeneration of heart, spirit, and mind. If we look at these scriptural realities with faith, then we can see that the true new birth experience of being baptized with the holy Ghost makes us a "new creature" as we are also told in II Cor. 5:17 where it also states that "old things (ways of thinking, desiring, feeling and living) are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Again if we look at these passages of divine truth with faith, then we have to acknowledge that according to the Bible, faith in Christ produces a condition where we are transformed from a sinner (one who practices sin) to someone who is given a new capacity to be literally free from sin, and to become partakers of God's holiness (Rom. 6:18; Eph. 4:23,24; Col. 3:9,10; Heb. 12:10). So if we have received God's Spirit, and if we are continuing to walk in the Spirit, then we are not committing sin, and thusly are not sinners; saved by grace or otherwise! God's people are referred to continually in the Scriptures, both old testament and new, as saints. And the only saints that are considered sinners are the ones who have gone back to committing sin, instead of continuing to go forward in holiness by progressive faith in Jesus (Num. 16:38; Isa. 1:28; Isa. 33:14; Amos 9:10; James 4:8; II Pet. 2:20-22).

That brings me to the saved by grace part of the answer. In Eph. 2:5,8, where we see the most famous scriptures on being saved by grace, the word "saved" is defined as "being rescued from danger or destruction." "Delivered" is actually a clearer wording for the passage, and to be sure, sin is what true believers are delivered from, through the new birth experience of being baptized with the Spirit of God. And Rom. 6:23 tells us that "the wages of sin are death," so this is the danger and destruction that we have the opportunity to be delivered from. And according to the passages in Eph. 2 on grace, it is God's grace, or graciousness that gives us the faith to believe on Jesus and be delivered from sin, be made holy (sanctified), and become a new creature; namely one who does not practice sin any longer. And the scripture that really drives this point home and lays to rest this fallacy of our being sinners saved by grace, is Rom. 6:1: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" There are a lot of folks who need to take a good long look at that scripture, and also at the answer that follows: "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Friend we've been called, not to confuse the grace of God by saying we are still sinners and continuing in sin, but to glorify the grace of God through our transformation from sin to God's holiness, and by continued obedience therein. Amen.

Q. Seeing that the Bible says we are not saved by works, will we as believers be judged according to our works, even as the rest of the world? Top

A. This question, and the correct answer to it, is very closely related to the previous question about being saved by grace. Eph. 2:5,8,9 informs us that we are saved by grace "through faith..., not by works, lest any man should boast." Before going to an explanation, let's look at some scripture that appears to contradict this passage. James the brother of Jesus, in his epistle presents a weighty question to us: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" (Jas. 2:14). And he clearly shows with the remainder of that chapter that if a person's faith is not backed up by works that truly demonstrate his faith, then his faith is futile, and for naught; as he pointedly states here: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (Jas. 2:17). So James says that faith cannot save us, unless it is proven by righteous works, and Paul says that we are not saved by "works of righteousness that we have done" (Tit. 3:5).

Since we know that God is not the author of confusion, the scriptures cannot contradict one another. That means that there has to be a scriptural explanation for this seeming contradiction, and there is. If we go back to Eph. 2, and follow Paul's train of thought in his writing, we will see that the works that he was talking about that cannot save anyone, are the works, or ceremonial ordinances of the law; which he spent so much time writing about in the context that these works cannot justify or save. We left off in verse 9, and in verse 11 he begins to explain more clearly that he is talking about the division between Jew and Gentile being broken down, and that division being the ceremonial works, or ordinances of the old covenant: "For he is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity (between Jew and Gentile), even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man (one body), so making peace;" (Eph.2:14,15). Sometimes he referred to these old covenant ceremonies as works (Gal. 2:16; 3:2, etc.), sometimes as deeds (Rom.3:20,28), and sometimes as ordinances (Col. 2:20; Heb. 9:10). But in any event he was continually trying to impress upon the congregations that he established in Christ, that the "works of the law" could not justify those who were under them during the old covenant; and that certainly they could not put anyone into right standing with God under the new covenant: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16). And that leads us to the explanation about the "boasting" of works, mentioned in Eph. 2:9: "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith" (Rom. 3:27).

This great apostle who was sent by God to be the teacher of the Gentiles, had to stay on this message because errant Jewish men in the body of Christ were going about teaching the Gentiles that they too had to be partakers of the ceremonial laws of the old covenant in order to be saved (Acts 15:1; Gal. 3:1-5; Philip. 3:2,3 Col. 2:16,17; etc.). But on the other hand, the works that James spoke of are the deeds of our lives, meaning the way we live. James was just assuring us that true faith in Christ is always backed up by godly living and true demonstration of faith by means of our works. And the same is true for love: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I Jn. 5:2,3). And John drives home the point in I Jn. 3:7: "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth (works) righteousness is righteous, even as he (Christ) is righteous."

And the entire Bible, including the new testament, is replete with the absolute fact that we will all stand before God in the day of judgment and be judged according to our works, or the way we lived: "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:" (I Pet. 1:17). And once more for good measure: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Cor. 5:10). So in this we see the reason for the commandment to "work out (our) salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). And the need to remain open, honest, and repentant before God is also evident: "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after" (I Tim. 5:24). And finally, speaking of the grace of God and the hope of salvation to come, we see the same things confirmed to us: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:11-14).


 

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