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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Manual and the Garden, continued
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (II Timothy 3:16—NIV)
The second reason the writings of the Apostles are of immense importance is that we are informed of the commandments concerning how we are to live. We must obey the commandments if we expect Christ to be formed in us.
Our great theological positions are concerned with the first reason, that is, that we may be oriented correctly to God's eternal purposes in Christ Jesus. In fact, due perhaps to the influence of Gnosticism, we leave the impression that salvation consists of our correct understanding of God's eternal purposes in Christ, the meaning of world history, the Divine plan of redemption through Christ, what will take place in the future, and the coming Day of Judgment and Resurrection.
If we are accurate in the above facts we will go to Heaven when we die, it is believed.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is not one drop of salvation existing in the fact we are correct in our understanding of this information.
But what about the several passages that declare the importance of belief, in particular Romans 10:9,10?
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9,10—NIV)
"Confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord.'"
"Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead."
"With your heart you believe and are justified."
"With your mouth you confess and are saved."
The above is a perfect proof-text for the believer who desires to maintain that our salvation consists primarily of the confession and belief of facts.
It is no wonder Gnosticism with its emphasis on what one believes was able to so readily invade Christian theology.
By using the above passage from the Book of Romans one can play all kinds of games, such as proving we are saved in spite of our conduct, and even that once we are saved we never can be lost.
The reason we draw such conclusions is that we are manual-oriented. We take a passage Paul was employing to convince the Judaizers of the necessity for looking up from the Torah to Christ, and then ignore the realities of the sixth and eighth chapters of the epistle from which the above was drawn.
We are so predisposed to look for a formula that will guarantee our residence in Heaven in spite of our sinning that we choose key passages and ignore their contexts, their contexts being the entire epistles from which they were taken.
The whole New Testament must be considered whenever one is interpreting a single passage. And the emphasis of the entire New Testament is assuredly not on a doctrinal formula that guarantees eternal residence in Heaven but on the creation of a person who has been renewed morally by having Christ formed in him or her.
A gardener's manual is not the garden. One can memorize the manual and be absolutely correct, and still not have a garden. So it is that one can believe the facts concerning Jesus Christ and confess these facts and never become a new creation. It happens every day!
To be continued.