30. Jun, 2017

Grace and Salvation

Grace and Salvation

We are saved by grace and not by works, [Ephesians 2:4-5] easy words to read but so much more to understand and act upon. I would go so far as to say every Christian has read these words and know works will not save. [2 Timothy 1:9] However words are easy but are they backed up by our actions? So many work hard for the Christian faith and so we should as stated in the book of James, [James 2:18] we are saved to do good works and look after widows and orphans, [James 1:27] the poor and anyone who needs help. Doing these things shows the true side of the Gospel of the Messiah. We are saved and within that salvation we are to take it to the world and we do this in works, works laid out by the Lord. But sometimes works can over shadow that our salvation is by grace and so enters the Social Gospel.

While in the mission fields I heard this term from many people and it took preference over the salvation message, which it should never do. We are saved, in the words of a Catholic catechism, to love God to know God and to serve God in that order. The words of Yeshua were that we are to go and make disciples of all nations. [Matthew 28:19] The only way we can do that is to teach salvation in everything we do. Many Christian ministries are heavily criticised in Israel for only doing good and never teaching salvation through Yeshua. We in our ministry had no such restraints, if we were asked we told them and on one occasion I was warned of getting into trouble but I went ahead and nothing happened. What could they do except kick me out of the country? At least the person heard the Gospel message.

If you speak to Jewish people you don't have to scratch the surface very far before you will hear about the pogroms of Europe or the persecution of Spain or the crusades. All which are but a small part of what has been done by the church down through the centuries to the Jewish people. The message of the gospel is many things, but love [1 Corinthians 13:13] and forgiveness [Matthew 18:21-22] are there at the top. Whatever we may think or have been taught about anybody surely forgiveness must take place or Yeshua died for nothing. If we cannot forgive any preconceptions about the Jewish people how are we ever going to be able to teach them God is love and forgiveness and salvation through the sacrifice of Yeshua?

Having lived in Israel I know some of the people there could have you arrested for just mentioning the name of Yeshua at the wrong time and in the wrong place. But that is nothing to what happened to our Lord and saviour on the cross. So why should we keep quiet about the truth of the Gospel and the Salvation and redemption when the salvation of souls is at stake? Again enter the so-called social Gospel and good works because this is easy and does not offend but extends love and good will. But somewhere along the way we must bring in the fact of who we really are and why. [John 1:12] Many people whether they believe or not do very good things for other people and society.

The difference is in the motive behind the works. When the Iron Curtain came down around Russia, and the way was clear for the church to once more operate in that land, a church was invited to work in the country by the Russian government. This was very good but there was a problem, Russia only wanted the social part of their work and stated so. I would go as far as to say Christianity has nothing to offer to the world if it forgets the great commission, because then it becomes no different than any other aid organisation. From disaster relief organisations, work unions and even most soccer clubs in England, were started by the church out of concern for the people and their salvation. The work was done to help the little people and with a strong Gospel message.

The only problem is we are still human and long to be accepted for who we are and for what we have achieved and where we have come from and where we are now. God is good and forgiving of our weaknesses when we want to impress and leave God behind and I'm as guilty as the next person on this. [1 John 1:9] We get so used to God being there with us we can begin to take Him for granted so things change and the Gospel is dropped.

The Old Testament alone states thirty six times to care for our neighbours and so we should but we should never forget why we are doing these works. We all want to look good and be remembered for what we have achieved but we must remember the words of Solomon, ‘vanity all is but vanity’. [Ecclesiastes 4:4-6] The Bible says a tree is cut down and destroyed and a short time later it shoots away again as the little roots it left burst once more into life. [Job 14:7] But it also states that we die and are gone and all the work we did comes to an end. [[]] We have but one chance to do it right and do it for God and not ourselves as our lives are but a fleeting moment in time. [Psalm 103:14-17]

We are told time and again good works would not save us, which is backed up by scripture. Then what will save us? It is only by acceptance of Yeshua as Lord and Saviour and nothing else. [Acts 4:12] There once was an old man, standing by his car thinking of his life and achievements. He thought of the big company he had created and worked so hard in making it very successful. He thought of all the staff he was in charge of and remembered this was to be his legacy for when he had gone. His wife had left him as he was never home and his children had long gone their separate ways for the same reason. As a Pastor was passing he noticed the old man and how unhappy he was. So he went over to him and asked what was wrong? The man told his story how he just wanted to prove to everybody how successful he could be but in doing so he had lost everything except the company he had established. The Pastor asked him why was he weeping? The man replied, it is a month since I retired I have been back to the company to see someone and they have changed everything I had put in place, my company has gone my life’s work gone in just four short weeks.

This is the story of so many but we need never fear no matter what we do in this life as things may change but the Lord will never change. [Hebrews 13:8] It is in the Lord where our total focus must lie, [Matthew 6:32-33] His promises are forever and we can go from this life to the next without a concern that the Lord we meet when that day comes is the same one we can meet while on earth. The One who took our sins and was nailed to a cross. [John 3:16-17] The same one who stood in all His glory on a high place in the Galilee. [Luke 9:28-29] He is the same one who healed and raised people from the dead [John 12:1] as He will raise us up one day to meet Him in the sky.  [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18] We must always remember there is only one thing in this life that will allow us to enter the next. That is to walk the narrow path [Matthew 7:14] by accepting Yeshua who is the only way to Heaven [Romans 10:9] and we are allowed on that road only by the grace of God and not by our works.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8