Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Gotcha" Salvation

Good morning!

I've been thinking yesterday and today about Christian sects that preach a "gotcha" salvation.  There are many fine Christians - - - yes, I believe they truly are Christians - - - who love Jesus with all their hearts yet believe erroneous theology.  There are several isolated scriptures that, taken separately, appear to teach that God is a "gotcha" God and that we must work as hard as we can to "keep ourselves saved".  I was thinking about all this because yesterday I met via Twitter an unusual combination in a person - - - a man who is both a Jew and a devout Catholic. Clicking around on his website, I discovered the following, various "kinds" of grace described:

actual grace
habitual grace
gratuitous grace
sanctifying grace
sacramental grace
sanating grace

It appears that the reason he describes all these different kinds of grace is that the terms are used to describe one's own efforts at maintaining one's own salvation.   I do not find all these kinds of grace mentioned in Scripture.

Let me tell you something:  I can't keep myself saved.  I know the depravity of my own flesh.  If I had to be responsible for holding on to my own salvation, I'd be just as lost today as I was before accepting Jesus as Savior.

It is not a Church nor its rules/traditions which preserve my eternal security (keep me His) either.

Look at what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 - -

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

And a couple of chapters earlier, in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, we see the word "blameless" again where Paul affirms that it is GOD who strengthens our hearts and produces in us "blamelessness" - - {Greek: "amemptos" - - free from fault or defect; sinlessness; perfect.}  It is not we who do this. A Church does not do this. We are incapable of accomplishing this perfect work in ourselves, of ourselves.

Friends, do you ever wonder why some Christians put their faith on the shelf and just give up?  They have no peace, because they wear themselves out trying to sanctify themselves!  Look at those verses again.  Who does the work of sanctification?  It is God himself, through His Holy Spirit at work in our lives.  Although He calls us to obedience and submission, His sanctification, His sanctifying grace is His free gift, not something we manufacture by our own actions.  Our salvation can never be attributed to our own good works, because God knew we would be prideful and boast over them, were He to design our salvation in such a way.

On the cross, Jesus cried, "It is finished." (John 19:30) He finished the work of our salvation. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is in charge of our sanctification.  Sanctification (and mercy!) are further manifestations of His grace to us.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us!
Titus 3:5

Or, as The Message version puts the larger passage (Titus 3:3-8):
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Oh hallelujah!  Praise Him for that!  Rest in that assurance today, as you yield to His beautiful work in your life moment after moment.  If you have proclaimed Jesus Christ as Your Savior God, yield further to His lordship over your will today.  Embrace and enjoy the peace that is yours in Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
1 Thessalonians 5:28

"Thank you, O my Father, for giving us Your Son, and leaving Your Spirit 'till Your work on earth is done."  (from There is a Redeemer, by Melody Green)  In Jesus' name, amen.

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