SAVED THROUGH OBEDIENCE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
When we maintain we are saved by faith apart from works we often mean we are saved apart from obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Such is the deadly error that has entered Christian thinking and preaching. God is ready now to lay the axe to the root of unrighteousness that has destroyed the moral character of the Christian churches and consequently the moral character of the people of the world; for the Church is the only light of the world.
SAVED THROUGH OBEDIENCE
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)
It has taken me a lifetime of prayer and thought to pierce through the deluding concept known as the “state of grace.” The concept of the state of grace obviously is unscriptural in that it guides the believers away from a diligent effort to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. I know beyond doubt that the “state of grace” is a destructive concept–perhaps the most destructive of the several major errors that have warped Christian thinking.
But it has been difficult, for me at least, to penetrate the heart of this error, to be able to express clearly the central idea in the state of grace doctrine that leads us astray.
I discovered a few years ago that when the Apostle Paul used the term “works” he meant the works of the Law of Moses. Much of Paul’s writing is a reaction against the Law of Moses, but we Gentiles cannot perceive this.
For example, when Paul says the gift of God is eternal life he does not mean eternal life is just handed to us. This is what is preached, but it is not scriptural. The verse that precedes the declaration of the “gift” (Romans 6:22) indicates that eternal life is the result of holiness, which in turn is the result of our becoming a slave to God and righteousness.
Rather, by the term “gift,” Paul means eternal life is given to us apart from the need to earn it by keeping the statutes of Moses. In fact, the verse that follows Romans 6:23 tells us that Paul was speaking to those who know the Law.
When I awakened this morning (10/14/2004) I was thinking about a convention speaker we have been listening to for the last three days. Our speaker is a marvel when it comes to building large congregations of people and teaching them how to live the Christian life. He does an excellent job of this. While he has been accomplishing so much during the last several years I have been jotting down my thoughts and putting them out in books, tapes, and the Internet. At first glance my work does not seem as significant as his.
As I meditated on this difference in ministry I felt the Lord remind me of something He spoke to me forty or fifty years ago. He said at that time, “If you will be absolutely obedient to God there is no limit on what God can do. Your obedience will make things possible that otherwise would not be possible.” I accepted this challenge.
This morning the Lord said to me, “The truest expression of faith is obedience.”
When I heard this I realized I had been given another key to understanding the current Christian error of the “state of grace.”
Let me show you what I mean. If someone says (contrary to the Scripture) “I am saved by faith apart from works” we might accept this statement as being true, even though it clearly is refuted by the Book of James. “After all, we Christians live in a state of grace, don’t we, in which God does not see our behavior but only the righteousness of Christ?”
But let us suppose that the individual announced, “I am saved by faith apart from obedience to Christ” we would know instantly something was wrong. We can’t disobey God and be saved! “We know this, don’t we? We cannot disobey God and live in eternal life!
Can you see what I mean when I said God has given me another key to the massive misunderstanding summed up in the “state of grace” teaching (an unscriptural expression and concept)?
The Apostle Paul would never say “You are saved apart from obeying God,” would he? Never! How can we be saved if we are living in disobedience?
But Paul would say, “You are saved apart from obeying the Law of Moses.” This is what Paul meant when he wrote we are saved apart from attempting to earn our salvation by works.
Now consider this: the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles gave us numerous commandments to obey. But we are told regularly from the pulpits of America that we do not have to be obedient to these commandments because we are saved by faith apart from works. We thus are stating that we can be saved by faith apart from obedience to Christ and the Apostles.
If it was the Lord who spoke to me this morning, saying “The truest expression of faith is obedience,” then the “state of grace,” which is equivalent to “faith” apart from obedience to the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, represents a grievous error in our thinking.
The moral condition of the churches in America reveals clearly that something is not right in the way in which we are presenting the Gospel of the Kingdom.
We say we wish to be a witness of Jesus. But our behavior does not testify to the Person, will, or way of Christ. We are doing the works of Satan and we are bearing witness of Satan’s person, will, and way. The Muslim people often refer to America as the “Great Satan.” This is because we do the works of Satan, as portrayed in the moral filth we peddle to the peoples of the world. Now we are obligated to wage war against the very people whom we have betrayed by not bearing a true witness of Jesus Christ.
Our nation does not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His ways because the Christian churches do not know the Lord Jesus and His ways. We have been deceived by the master deceiver, supposing we can behave according to the ways of Satan and do the work of God in the earth. We behave according to the ways of Satan because we have been taught that we can be saved apart from obeying the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
Can we earn salvation by performing works of righteousness? No, we cannot. Salvation comes to us from God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we required to obey God in order to be saved? How could it be otherwise? Salvation is not a ticket we are given when we profess belief in Christ. Salvation is a program, a process, that operates throughout our lifetime. We have to work out our salvation.
Now, if salvation is a process which we have to work out, and the Holy Spirit is leading us through this process, how can we be saved if we are not obeying the Spirit?
If we go to a teacher to learn how to swim, and each day the teacher shows us some new aspect of swimming, such as kicking with our legs straight, how can we learn to swim if we do not obey the teacher? How ridiculous to maintain we are learning to swim when we are not doing what the teacher is indicating we must do.
In the same manner we simply cannot work out our salvation if we do not obey the Teacher throughout our lifetime. To say we are being saved, or, as commonly but unscripturally taught, we have been permanently saved at some point in the past, when we are not obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, is as ridiculous as claiming we are learning to swim or have learned to swim when we are not following the teacher’s instructions.
As I stated at the beginning, the concept of the “state of grace,” the idea of professing belief in Christ with the result that God does not see our behavior but only the righteousness of Christ, is a masterpiece of satanic delusion. It sounds right—that we are given a ticket to Heaven if we maintain an abstract faith that is independent of our behavior; but this deception will not stand in the light of the Scriptures or of logic.
Faith and obedience are inseparable The same is true of unbelief and disobedience. Can we claim to have faith in Jesus Christ and not do what He says? This is not possible by any standard of intelligent thought.
So the state of grace is a mystique, an image, a fantasy of the mind. It tells us we can safely ignore the daily work of moral transformation and yet be “saved.” By “saved” is meant we will go to Heaven when we die on the basis of a profession of belief in Christ. It is not true belief at all because it does not result in obedience. The truth is, salvation itself is moral transformation.
As far as escaping Hell and making our home in Heaven is concerned, the Bible teaches that the saints will appear with Christ and govern the nations with Him for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years we will be living on the new earth and governing for eternity the nations of saved people from our position in the new Jerusalem. How then can we maintain we are to change our home from the earth to Heaven? Are we not in error in this belief?
The Apostle Paul informs us we will be appearing with Jesus Christ at His coming.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
Then Paul declares that in light of the fact we will be appearing with Christ, we must put off our old sinful nature and put on the Character of Christ. Obviously if we are to appear with Christ we must be transformed. We cannot appear with Christ if we still are living in the sinful nature.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)
Can we be saved and disobey the Apostle?
It is because we will be ruling with Christ for eternity that we must undergo the process of moral transformation that is salvation, that is redemption.
Thus the teaching that we are saved apart from works, apart from obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles, is found to be a deadly misunderstanding of the Divine salvation.
(“Saved Through Obedience”, 3151-1)