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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Terror of the Lord, continued
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31)
"Repentance unto life"! It is repentance, a change of behavior, that leads us to eternal life.
Repentance, a change of behavior, was preached by the early Apostles in view of the coming of Christ to judge the deeds of people. God in Christ shall judge the world "in righteousness." The concept was (and is) that if you do not change your manner of living you will suffer at the coming of the Lord. This was the original Gospel.
Repentance is not preached today because of a misunderstanding of the nature of the Christian salvation, a misunderstanding that has been with us from the first century.
From the beginning of the Christian Era some teachers of the Gospel have proclaimed that the grace Paul preached signifies that Christ saves us apart from our behavior. Immoral, lawless behavior is acceptable because redemption was completed on the cross of Calvary.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [immorality] and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
"Turning the grace of our God into lust." It is possible to turn the grace of God into an excuse for animal lust.
The blood of Jesus then becomes a ticket by which we enter happiness when we die regardless of our behavior on the earth.
Protestants often define Divine grace only as forgiveness. We are justified (forgiven our sins and made acceptable to God) by faith alone, some proclaim. This in spite of James' teaching that faith alone, not accompanied by works of righteousness, is dead.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:17)
"We are saved (meaning we will go to Heaven when we die) by faith alone" is the prevailing understanding of the Christian salvation in our day. Evangelical preachers and teachers maintain that Christians ought to live a godly life, but if they do not they will go to Paradise in any case because we are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done.
It is true that we are saved by Divine grace. But the concept that we shall be brought to Paradise when we die on the basis of "accepting Christ" even though we have lived an immoral, lawless life, reveals a total misunderstanding of the program of redemption, of its goal, and of Divine grace.
The practitioners of Judaism thrust aside the need for righteous behavior by stressing ceremonial practices derived from the Law of Moses. The Christians thrust aside the need for righteous behavior by stressing a profession of belief in Christ. In both instances the practices of religion have taken the place of justice, mercy, and faith.
Few forces on earth are as effective in destroying integrity, conscience, and common sense as is true of religion.
To be continued.