PART 12 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE

Is Salvation Obtained by Repentance,Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly works?

 

PART 12 The Spirituality Puzzle

Whatcauses someone to become a child of God and have assurance of eternal life?

 

Chapter 20

Are Godly Works Necessary in the SalvationProcess?

 

     Godly works evidences that a believer isoperating in the fruit of the Spirit. In agreement with the salvation messageof Repentance and Belief, a believer has fellowship with the Holy Spirit, whenthey participate in his influences (graces; fruit - love, joy, peace,longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance). Philippians 2:1 This fruit is developedby having our mind renewed by hearing, learning, memorizing, meditating, andapplying God’s word or his perspective concerning ourselves, others, and thecircumstances of life. Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:22-24. However, Godly works evidencesthat the person is truly saved. This is called ‘saving faith’.

     This perspective states that faith is provedtrue by what the person does. In other words, no one can be a Christianor really is a Christian w/out being like Christ. Faith without works is nofaith at all. If a person repents, believes, is baptized in water, and evidences nogodly works at all or evidences godly works for a while and then falls backinto the way of their sin nature, then either they were never saved in the first place (their repentance,belief, and water baptism was not genuine) or they have lost their salvation.

     Losing one’s salvation means that theindwelling Spirit departs from them and the two spiritual benefits provided bywater baptism are no longer in effect. What kind of behavior would someonenotice or look for that would indicate to them that a fellow believer has losttheir salvation? Hereare some of the reasons for a believer losing their salvation.

    A believer would lose their salvation:

 

~Through willful disobedience146.

 

~ When they turn completely to the darkside and decide that he/she wants to worship Satan as a result of the wealthand power that he may be able to give him/her while he/she is still living downhere on earth147.

 

~ When they have decided to join and livein some type of organized crime, who gets into killing and murdering others fortheir own gain and profit148.

 

~ When they get into the heavier types ofsins on a frequent basis with no intention of trying to pull out of them149.

 

~ When they stop believing150.

 

~ When they had participated in churchactivities, perhaps even seemed to be used of God – then dropped it all andwalked away151.

 

~When they engaged in certain sins, or a certain amount of sin, or a certainamount of time in sin152.

 

~When they continue to live in any particular sin(s) without repentance.

     If scripture indeed proves the conjecturethat a person’s salvation is dependent on them evidencing godly works, thenwhat this is essentially saying is that a person’s fellowship with God or lackthereof impacts their relationship with Him. In my mind, this is a difficultconcept to grasp. You might respond to me by saying it is difficult because youhave been taught that salvation is by grace through faith or to say this in adifferent way by repentance and belief.

     You are right in that in most of thechurches I have been involved in I have been taught salvation is by gracethrough faith. As I said earlier, and still maintain now, as I am writing this manuscriptand maybe soon to be book, I am trying not to let scriptural bias or personalperspective taint this study. I hope I am being objective as I can be.

     What I would like to do next is present toyou the scriptures that believers of this salvation message use to supporttheir perspective that godly works evidence salvation. I have tried to selectthose that I believe are the paramount ones. Are you ready to take a look atthem?

 

     The first section of verses we will lookat are taken from the book of 1 John.

 

Isa Liar

1John 2:3-4

3And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

 

    The apostle John is conveying that we as Christians know that we knowChrist, if we keep his commandments. What does it mean to know that we knowhim? The first word “know” means to come to recognize. The second word “know”means to know in a personal way, to be intimately acquainted with a person’sintentions and character153; to haveevidence to show that we are a Christian.

    We are told that what causes us, Christians, to know that we know Him inthis manner is by keeping his commandments. As we have discussed this in anearly chapter, this word means the commands that were given to the church bythe apostles and/or by Christ when he lived on earth as pertaining to thisdispensation and does not refer to the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Law.

    So, if we were to keep (habitual observance of) his commandments, thensome of the examples of such are as follows.

a.    Love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Peter 1:22)

b.    Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

c.    Stop surrendering any part of yourselves as weapons ofwicked purposes to do evil.  (Romans 6:13)

d.    Be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

 

4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and thetruth is not in him.

 

    But for those who say I know him intimately (professing to be aChristian) and they do not observe or operate in his commandments (various commands)then he/she is a liar (is a phony; is not saved) as indicated by the fact thatthe truth of God’s word is not evident in his/her behavior. So, there you haveit. This is a very convincing verse that if someone does not operate inChrist’s commandments (various commands), then he/she is a liar (is not saved).

    

    Now, let’s take a look at some more verses, which are used to supportthe perspective that someone is saved as long as they continue to obey Christ.

 

    The book of Hebrews is wherewe will go next.

 

ThatObey Him

Hebrews5:8-9

8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

 

     Thewriter of Hebrews says that though Christ were a Son, the Son of God, yet hebecame personally and practically acquainted with the true meaning of obedienceas pertaining to the things which he suffered (in terms of the suffering it entailed154; in the deepest sorrows of the body and the soul155).

 

9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all themthat obey him;

 

    And being made perfect (when he had finished his course of tremendous sufferings,and consummated the whole by his death and resurrection156), he became the author (the causing; thesource) of eternal salvation (to be saved forever) only to those who obey him. This is saying that only those who obeyhim will receive from him eternal salvation (to be saved forever). So, thequestion is how does someone obey him?

    A believer will continue to be saved if they obey him (are loyal to hiscommands157; on an obedience modeledafter that of Jesus who also suffered158;if they repent, turn from sin, believe on Jesus as being a sufficient ransomand sacrifice for his soul, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, be a workertogether with him, walk in conformity to the divine will through this divineaid, and continue faithful unto death159).

    As we can see, according to this gospel, salvation is not predicated onrepentance and faith alone, but by living a godly life, i.e. performing godlyworks.

 

    Let’s continue on, and take a look at some of the other verses thatmight be considered as instrumental in formulating the doctrinal view that the salvationmessage of Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly Works will cause anunbeliever to find God or become a child of his and go to a better place atdeath.

 

    Please go to the book of Matthew.

 

ButHe That Shall Endure unto the End, the Same Shall Be Saved

SuggestedReading: Matthew 24:1-31

3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately,saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thycoming, and of the end of the world?

 

     Jesus is with his disciples on the Mountof Olives. While there, they ask him three questions. The first has to do with,as to when the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and the Jewish state will bedestroyed? The second has to do with, as to when will he return? And the third,as to when will the end of the world take place?

     He responded by telling them that there will be afuture time called the beginning of sorrows when there will be certain thingsto look for that will indicate that the end of the world is near.

     Some of these things that will be evidentare that there will be:

 

~ Those who will claim tobe the Christ and deceive many.

~ International wars,civil wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes in different places.

~ Believers who will beafflicted (punished) and put to death, and because of such many will stopbelieving in Him, even turning one another over to the authorities.

~ Iniquity or wickednessabounding everywhere and subsequently brotherly love will no longer be acharacteristic of those who follow God.

~ The occurrence of anabomination (a sacrilege; idolatry) that will occur in the temple area.

~ A declaration of thegospel of the kingdom made to everyone on the earth.

 

      Whileit’s true that most of what is going on here has been going on since the ChurchAge began, however, what is noteworthy is that there are a few things, whichare declared to happen that will signify that these things didn’t happen beforeor hadn’t happened for a long period of time such as: everyone in the worldwill have heard the gospel; the temple at Jerusalem will be rebuilt and Jewishworship will be reinstituted; almost everyone on earth will be killed; theworld as we know it will come to an end; and the Messiah of the Jews willreturn.

       Some believe that the time period duringwhich these events will occur is seven years and is otherwise referred to as theTribulation Period or Age. Just prior to this period of time, it is believedthat a world ruler will arrive on the scene of international events andintervene at a time of possible world annihilation and bring about world peace.It is possible that some kind of a treaty will be signed that will hold up forthree and a half years. However, at the end of this time it is alleged thatthis world ruler will do something that will cause this agreement to collapse.

    The way scriptures describe it, he apparently becomes full of himselfand decides to enter the temple area and place an image of himself in it to beworshipped, and then all hell will break loose. This changes the peacefulclimate of the world into one of full out assault with one main target and thatis to annihilate the Jewish nation. Before the world destroys itself entirely,Christ returns and intervenes.

 

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

 

     According to this gospel, those who endureto the end are Christians, who if they do so, will not lose their salvation.What must they do or evidence in order for their salvation to be kept?

In order to endureunto the end, this could refer any of the following evidences:  i.e. to obey Christ’s commandments, to bearafflictions and persecutions faithfully; to not grow cold or apostatize eitherduring the time in which believers now live or during the seven-yeartribulation period. Those who adhere to this view believe that Christians willalong with those Jews who believed in the gospel of the kingdom will be hunteddown and persecuted. And the protocol for a Christian maintaining or keepingtheir salvation will be the same then as it is now, they must perform godlyworks.

     Thatwas a lot of information which was just presented, but unless we are informedthoroughly, we will only understand in a limited fashion as to why someone inleadership believes the way they do as in this particular case.

 

     What we will take a look at next arescriptures from the book of Galatians,which connects the committing of habitual sin with the loss of salvation.

 

Those Who Live Like This

Galatians 5:13; 19-21

13 For, brethren, ye have been calledunto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by loveserve one another.

Galatians 5:19-21                                                                                                        Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery,fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred,variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders,drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as Ihave also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall notinherit the kingdom of God.

     Here, Paul is speaking directly to his"brothers and sisters," which means he is speaking to Christians -those who were already saved. Yet after listing the acts of the flesh (sins),he warns them - Christians - that by living "like this" they wouldnot inherit the kingdom of God, thus they would no longer be saved. Paul is notreferring to committing a single act of sin intermittently, but to "livelike this" means one is not practicing self-control nor are they repentingof the sin(s) of which they are committing, rather they are regularlycommitting the sin(s). Their life consists of these sins. The fact that Paulhere is warning the Christians that they will not inherit the kingdom of God iftheir life is like this shows that one can lose their salvation based on way oflife.

 

     The next section of scriptures seems toclearly portray a picture of Christians, who left their faith and followedfalse prophets and teachers and thus went back to their former ways having losttheir salvation.

 

If After They Have Escaped thePollutions of the World                                                        

SuggestedReading: 2 Peter 2:1-22

1 But there were false prophets alsoamong the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privilyshall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, andbring upon themselves swift destruction.          

 

     Peter is instructing the Christian Jews towatch out, because there will be false prophets and teachers, who willprivately (the metaphor is that of a spy or traitor; the introduction of falseteaching alongside the true160) bring in damnable heresies(self-chosen doctrines) and deny (disown; denounce; by immorality under a cloakof religion) Jesus, who bought (purchased by the blood sacrifice on the cross)them, and will bring upon themselves swift destruction. And then the apostlePeter seems to indicate that some might have already done so and followed theteachings of these false prophets and teachers, and if this is indeed the casethen here is what he has to say about them.

 

20 For if after they have escaped thepollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour JesusChrist, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worsewith them than the beginning.    

 

     Forif after they (the converted to the Christian faith) have escaped thepollutions (the moral corruptions through evil acts) of the world by theknowledge (the moral and ethicalinfluence of the word of God that caused their outward lives to be pure; of onethat truly knows Christ, who has been taught by him to put off the old man andto put on the new man161) ofour Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled (gone back; a gradualprocess; as they persisted in the falseteaching that grace gave license to sin, they became entangled in their formerlicentious ways162) therein totheir former immoral lives, and are overcome (trapped again by the powers ofthese worldly lusts163), then thelatter end (current state they are in) is worse (more capable of iniquity; of amore severe degree of punishment) than the beginning (before they were saved).

 

21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment deliveredunto them.

 

     It had been better for them not to have (fully)known the way of righteousness (the gospel), than to have turned from (a changeof mind; a change of direction) the holy commandment (the whole religion ofChrist) that they were instructed in. Why was it better for them not to haveknown the gospel? It was because they lost something they had received, thatbeing their salvation.

 

     We could go on looking at many morescriptures that appear to support the view that the performing of godly workssecures a believer’s salvation, but if we did this, it would take us to thereturn of Christ. Only joking. However, there is one more section of scripturesthat are considered primary as to this perspective, which are found in the bookof James.

 

BeYe Doers of The Word, and Not Hearers Only

SuggestedReading: James 1:22-25; 2:14-26

James 1:22 But be ye doers of theword, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

 

     The apostle James is addressing JewishChristians, those who were scattered abroad beyond Palestine. He is instructingthem to be doers (to live out the gospel message; to put the word intopractice) of the word and not just hearers only, thereby deceiving themselves(not practicing what they hear and know).

 

James 1:23-25 For if any be a hearerof the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural facein a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightwayforgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law ofliberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer ofthe work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

 

     After which, he gives an example of whatany Christian, who is only a hearer of the word, is liken unto. They are like aman who is attentively observing and considering his reflected image (hisnatural face; who he used to be) in a mirror, who goes his own way and does notput the word into practice. James then decides to address the matter of notbeing a doer, but only a hearer, by providing an example of such.

 

James2:14-16 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, andhave not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, anddestitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be yewarmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which areneedful to the body; what doth it profit?

 

    He says that if a man proclaims that he has faith (genuine faith; savingfaith), and evidences no godly deeds,then can the faith he claims he is operating in, save him? The answer is no,because godly works are necessary if a man would have evidence that he isjustified164. If what was just saidisn’t enough to convince someone that faith without works is not genuine, hethen goes on to illustrate this by the examples given in the lives of Abrahamand Rahab, as many commentators seem to use them to formulate anotherconnection between faith, works, and salvation and that salvation is not justby belief, but also evidenced by works. We’ll confine the example of such tothat provided of Abraham.

 

21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac hisson upon the altar?

 

    With this example in mind, this verse states that Abraham was justified(considered a righteous person; accepted by God) by his works (by hisconduct; proof … that a man is justified by works and not by faith only165; good works and a holy life; and where thatexists it shows that the faith is genuine166),when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

     Wecan now deduce what someone would proclaim to unbelievers concerning salvationas pertaining to the message of this gospel to unbelievers. What is said might be something likethe following.

 

     The salvation message is the good news ofJesus Christ, the message of which is that God sent him, his Son, being deity, whois one of the members of the trinity, the other two being God the Father andGod the Holy Spirit, being born of a virgin, having never committed one sin,died on a cross, paid the penalty for sin in order to satisfy the justice ofGod the Father, having forgiven all sin putting it away forever never bringingthem up again, rose again after three days never to die again, his sacrificebeing accepted by God the Father, and ascended into heaven to be seated at theFather’s right hand. Prior to, but understood to be aligned with it, theunbeliever would be asked to repent (a confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them167).

     Following their confession of faith, wewill remind them that hopefully in the near future they will be baptized inwater, and by adhering faithfully to the Bible they will be evidencing godlyworks.  John 7:37-39; John 3:16; Acts17:30; Romans 10:10

 

    And by the way, here are some of the other views that go along with this salvationmessage:

 

●Waterbaptism forgives sins.

●Waterbaptism causes the receiving of the indwelling Spirit.

●Waterbaptism is necessary in the salvation process, without it a person is notsaved.

●Godlyworks evidences whether a person’s salvation is genuine. 

●Abeliever who lives in habitual sin will lose their salvation.

●Waterbaptism causes a person to be placed in union with Christ and be actuallyidentified with Christ in his death and resurrection.

 

     Withall of the information, we have looked at in respect to this salvation message thisquestion remains.

 

    What one of these salvation messages is the right one?

 

    Is it the salvation message of Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, andGodly Works or is it the salvation message of Repentance and Belief?

 

    I would have to conclude that the scriptures used and translated in accordancewith the description of the salvation message, which would cause a believer tofind God or become his child and go to a better place at death, seem to givecredibility to both perspectives. With this in mind, we have a dilemma as thereappears to be two different salvation messages (gospels). Is there only one?Can there be two?

 

Galatians1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospelunto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

 

    From what was conveyed by the apostle Paul to the Christians at Galatiathere is only one gospel (salvation message). In order to determine whichgospel is the right one, we need to study further. But before we do, I wouldlike you to read over a summary of the specific aspects of each of these two salvationmessages which is presented in a compare and contrast table in the next chapter.This way you can clearly see how they are similar and how they differ.

 

Endnotes

146What is the Assemblies of Godposition on the security of the believer’s salvation? 13 January 2019 ˂http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs>.

147Can a Christian lose salvation? 20 August 2012 ˂http://www.bible-knowledge.com/lose-your-salvation/>.

148Can a Christian lose salvation?

149Can a Christian lose salvation?             

150Eternal Security- or Can a ChristianLose His Salvation? 20January 2019 ˂http://www.equipsaints.org/EternSec.htm>.

151Eternal Security.

152Eternal Security.

153UBS New Testament.

154Bible Knowledge Commentary/NewTestament.

155Barnes.

156Adam Clarke.

157UBS New Testament.

158Bible Knowledge Commentary/NewTestament.

159Adam Clarke.

160Wuest.

161Calvin.

162Weust.

163UBS New Testament.

164Barnes.

165The Pulpit.                                                                                                                                                             166Barnes.

167Barnes.

 

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Are Godly works necessary in the salvation process?
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