Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Only Thing That Counts Is Faith Expressing Itself Through Love

I would love to see people living in the freedom that Jesus died to give us. He died to give us freedom and he rose from the dead to give us life; a life that Jesus called abundant. I find it amazing how, when we are born of the Spirit into the freedom of Jesus, we turn around and allow ourselves to be shackled by other people's idea of salvation.

I want to be clear by repeating what I said yesterday: The only source of salvation is faith in what Jesus has done for us. The scriptures are plain about this:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1-2)

Justified through faith, not through anything we do. Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. The thief on the cross beside Jesus is a clear example of that. There was no baptism, no communion, no anything else. There was only a dying, naked man on the cross expressing his faith in Jesus. To him Jesus simply said, "Today you will be with me in paradise".

When we read Paul's letters we see that he was dogged at every turn by the "circumcision group". This group was made up of Christian Jews who would go in after Paul and confuse everyone by saying they could not follow Jesus without first being circumcised. This physical circumcision belonged to the old covenant and was replaced by the circumcision of the heart which happens with salvation:

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:29)

Remember, Jesus came to bring us to a deeper place with God, beyond the surface matters and into the heart matters. These people wanted to stay on the surface of things. They wanted to add a step to salvation. For them it was circumcision that saved, a work of the flesh, which opened the door to follow Jesus. Today we don't have such a focus on circumcision but we do have things like baptism and communion.

Wow, I just heard a lot of monitors closing. Baptism and communion are done in obedience to the Word but in and of themselves they hold no value. They are nothing more than a symbol, a testimony to the world about what has already been done for us in the Spirit. You would not believe how many people do not know this and actually believe they are not saved unless they are baptized and take communion.

I am not against either of this fantastic public testimonies about what Jesus has done for us, but I am against people using them to add a step to salvation. If a person is never baptized and never takes communion he is still well saved if he has called on the name of Jesus Christ. Let's not complicate this and turn it into something it isn't. Justification is by faith alone and if we are relying on other things we are in a lot of trouble.

Now I want you to hear this loud and clear because I want you to experience real freedom. Hear these words from Paul, inspired by the Spirit:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 2:6)

Hear that loud and clear: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You will not take anything into the next stage of our life, eternal life, if it was not born of this faith. It`s great to have such strong symbolism but we must ensure that they do not interfere with the true source of salvation. Remember that snake in the desert, the foreshadowing of Christ, that the generations that followed turned into an object of worship? Some people are doing this with baptism and communion.

Everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

Now that you are free, do not allow anyone to throw you back into captivity. Keep your eyes on Jesus and only Jesus and let nothing cut in on you and rob you of the source of your salvation. Justification is by faith, alone!

1 comment:

whitney zeiger said...

Thank you for this encouragement. I read this portion of Scripture this morning and I decided to research it and came across your blog. My question to you is what how do you reconcile showing your faith BY works and not working FOR salvation???