Sunday, March 10, 2013
We are saved from Sin to do Good Works
We know of the Will of God for our lives because He has graciously Anointed a Son, Jesus, as our Guide and Prophet to reveal it to us, and to give us the Good and Beneficial Message (Gospel) that we may live more purely and abundantly in this life, and at the end of our lives, may be united with the God, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, for all eternity.
We truly have been saved from sin by Jesus, and are saved from it and forgiven for all past sins when we first accept him as our Master and Savior. We are granted eternal life through obedience to God's commands as revealed by His Son, Jesus, and through God's constant forgiveness and a reliance upon Him for guidance.
Heaven has been opened and made available to all of humanity though the gracious teachings, life and example of Jesus - who reflected in all things the will of God, who is his Father and ours. But no one can enter into Heaven except by believing what God has revealed through His Anointed One, Jesus, and by doing what God has required of us.
Faith is the root, and Good Works the branches of our Salvation, but neither can exist, unless nourished by the ongoing Grace of God.
No one can deduce from the fact that God's Grace is in this way supreme that, therefore, we may sin with impunity, or that we may ignore the duty God has laid upon us to do Good Works.
All MAY go to Heaven, if they use the means and observe the conditions prescribed by God, because Salvation is conditional. All CAN now go to Heaven IF they fulfill those conditions, and are judged by God according to their Good Works worthy of entrance. (And know that it is not for us to judge whether we or any other person will be found worthy in God's sight. It is not for us to boast that we have forced God to grant us eternal life, or presume that we can or must do a certain amount of Good Works in order to earn it. It will be determined by God alone whether we have served Him, and will separate the wheat from the chaff in His own way, and in His own way. All we can do is strive and rely on his ongoing Goodness and Grace.)
The first of these conditions is to begin having Faith in God - a Faith that believes that the Ruler of the Universe is real, that His commands are Just and that His Prophet and chosen One is Jesus, the Anointed ("Christ") through whom God's will was revealed to us.
The second condition is obedience to those commands, expressed through Good Works, which are required by God. We are shown perfect obedience (and shown that all people may indeed obey God) through the life and example of His chosen one, Jesus, who lived, taught and died as a pure moral example to us, so that we should follow him and be made perfect in righteousness though observance of the commandments. We do this with God's help and a reliance on God's holy Spirit. And we must, on this journey of Faith, always seek God's forgiveness for our faults and failures as we strive towards this perfect expression of Righteousness God's Anointed Son, Jesus, has modeled for us.
Salvation from sin, that offer God makes to man that rescues him from sin, is accepted purely and completely by faith alone. How could it be otherwise? Even our knowledge of what sin IS comes from God, so man's works, apart from God and the knowledge of God, are clearly not sufficient to do works that are up to God's standards, and only accidentally and by chance even approach what is "Good." We learn from God's Anointed One - His Prophet, Jesus - what obedience really means: that it starts in the heart, and in our intentions to do Good in the sight of God, and that this is made real in our daily lives in all that we do.
This knowledge of God's Will, given to us by the One whom He sent, is a gift we did not earn, nor did we merit it, since Jesus was sent out of God's love for us, who are His creations (John 3:16.) But once we learn of this great and free offer of salvation, we must act upon it, and will judged according to our obedience to God's offer. For whoever believes in him has eternal life, but those who do not believe and "does what is true" and "comes to the light" that Jesus calls us to, works righteousness, according to God's plan, and is granted eternal life with the Father.
Let us not have a false reliance on our Good Works alone, relying on a false sense of smugness. But also know that we may not falsely rely on our first bloom of Faith alone to carry us into Heaven, for God has prescribed the path that we take, and we must meekly strive to follow it according to His Will without arrogance or pride.
The clear teaching of scripture, therefore, is that once we have been exposed to and accept this offer of salvation, we will be fully accountable for our response to it, and will be judged thereafter according to our deeds. Every means of improvement and happiness, and the knowledge of it, is God's free gift, but then it is our duty to act upon that knowledge.
With God's holy Spirit aiding us in all things and at all times, and Jesus' example always before us and in our hearts, we may live this life in peace and happiness, and thereafter, according to God's good pleasure, enter into God's Eternal Presence.
"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21
"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him." 1 John 3:19-22
“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” Matt. 20:26-27
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?’” Mark 8:34-36
"Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him." 1 John 3:4-6