In a later post I plan to write on holiness; however, in an attempt to prepare for that post, as well as keep each post from becoming lengthy, I would like to simply address an issue that has creeped into the church.
This issue, while recently really impacting many churches, is not a new issue! It is simply an issue that tends to cycle through over and over! This dangerous misconception is the idea that our actions/lifestyle do not affect our salvation. After all, we are not saved by works. While the previous statement is true, many times “Christians” destroy the context of this scripture and destroy its meaning all together.
We find Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch who was one of the first seven church deacons, leading this movement (Acts 6:3-5). His teachings abused Paul’s doctrine of the grace of God and created a cheap imitation of freedom in the church. John actually compares the Nicolaitanes to Balaam in the Old Testament who “cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel” (Revelation 2:14-15). In the Old Testament Balaam failed in cursing Israel, however he got them to mix godliness with worldiness and they were cursed from within (Numbers 22-25)!
We cannot allow ourselves to abuse God’s grace and fail to live a separated life (Romans 12:1)! So what does the Bible really mean by saying we are not saved by works? First we will take a look at some scripture!
Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Titus 3:5-8, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”
James 2:14-26, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone, Yea, a man may say, Thou hast believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
When God’s inspired Word is rightly divided, one comes to the obvious conclusion that we are Justified by God’s grace! We could never earn our salvation! However we must, as stated in the previous scriptures, allow our faith to be manifested into works! Hebrews 6:1-9 instructs us to follow the path of sanctification! Pick up your cross and follow Jesus! It is a rewarding journey!
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