December 10, 2014

By the Grace of God,
Through the Faith of Christ,
We Have Been Saved;
It Is the Gift of God.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. - Ephesians 2:8

You can't cram religion down someone's throat: only by the grace of God (and not by our own effort) do we receive faith; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). The mistake that some Christians make is to preach to people who are not ready, willing and able to receive the message. 

"No man can come to the Son except the Father draw him" - John 6:44
We are all sinners: some have been found while others remain lost. A lost sinner must be drawn by God to want to know Christ. God says to us, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3)." Our Creator, knowing the hearts and minds of men, has the sovereign right to choose who He will draw near to Him and when. It's all according to His will and in His time.

When God draws someone near, Christians are the vessels that He uses to reveal the truth about His Word to lost sinners. When we are saved, we desire to proclaim the good news in every place, and we should be prepared to explain the hope we have through the faith of Christ with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (the nine "fruit of the Holy Spirit," Galatians 5:22).

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. - Acts 2:21

Apart from the amazing grace of God, we cannot find Christ. Grace (unmerited favor) and faith are gifts of God: this is why nobody should boast of faith since there is nothing they did to earn it. If they boast of their own faith, then they are misguided people who mistakenly think that by choosing to believe when other sinners didn't, God reciprocated by making them righteous. God chooses us and calls us for good works (to do good), not because of good works (not because we did good). It is not our own faith, but the faith of Christ that saves us.

Sin is the transgression of the laws of God. No man, other than Christ, is without sin. God, being a righteous judge, requires that sin be paid for; that is, that no sin go unpunished. Yet God, being merciful and knowing that all men sin and fall short of His glory, provided a way for His People to escape the penalty of sin, which is spiritual death. The way to escape the penalty of sin, the death of the spiritual body, is through Christ, who paid the wages (penalty) of sin on the cross for God's People.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
And not by the works of the law:
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
- Galatians 2:16

A Christian should be a striking likeness of Christ in all ways and by all means so that all may say of him, "He has been with Jesus." A penitent believer has his sins already laid on Christ: he obeys the commandments of God and follows the footsteps of Christ, teaching repentance and forgiveness and helping the Lord save those who are still lost, for it brings the Lord glory when we help Him find His lost sheep. However, we need not worry, for we were chosen by God before the foundation of the world, predestinated for eternal life: the Lord knows them that are His ("mine elect"), and He will bring to faith all for whom Christ died.

Christ says, "For many be called, but few chosen." God calls all of us to salvation—those who ignore the call could care less that they are not chosen—no one is being short-changed, for all true believers will be saved and the unbelievers don't want to be saved. Anyone who comes to Christ will not be cast out. Christ says, "Knock, and it will be opened unto you." If we knock, then we were chosen and called by God.

If we go straight to Christ and hide in His wounds, we shall know our election. If we look to Jesus and believe on Him, we make proof of our election directly, for so surely as we believe, we are elected. Jesus tells us whether we are chosen or not: we cannot find it out in any other way. If we go and put our trust in Him, His answer will be, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."

There will be no doubt about Him having chosen us when we have chosen Him.

Christ says that the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Jesus tells us that the second greatest commandment is to love others as we love ourselves and as He loves us. This includes everyone, whether they believe as we do or not. And Jesus says that we should pray for our enemies and do good to them rather than hate them. But we should take care not to unequally yoke ourselves to unbelievers (in marriage or otherwise), for this will lead to lives of misery.

We cannot truly know the Father without knowing the Son; this is why Jesus tells us: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27).

Christ Jesus, the Son of God, says to us with His gentle voice: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law,
But that which is through the faith of Christ,
The righteousness which is of God by faith.
- Philippians 3:9

It is through Christ that we receive the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, which enables us to pardon anyone even as God forgives us. So forgive our enemies today, do not think of ourselves first, and we will come to know God, our Father, as He really is. Then we will pray for those who hate us, love those who curse us, and ask our heavenly Father to fill our enemies with grace and bring them to repentance. We will visit the one who hates us and ask his forgiveness even if he was to blame, thus we will teach him humility by taking the first step, and we will get rid of our own pride in the process and we will increase in love.

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him,
Seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,
And made higher than the heavens;
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s:
For this He did once, when He offered up Himself.
- Hebrews 7:25-27

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?
The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself
But the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works."
- John 14:10

But by the grace of God I am what I am:
And His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;
But I laboured more abundantly than they all:
Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
-1 Corinthians 15:10

We deserve no rewards, no merit, no crowns that we may boast, for it is all of God. Any faith we have more than another is because God dealt that measure to us, and not because of ourselves. Any work we do greater than any other is because God worked within us more than another. Rather than ask, “What rewards will we get,” we should ask, “What does God will for us to do.” And when we have done it, say, “We are unprofitable servants.” Abandon pride and, as the certain poor widow who threw in two mites, surrender all to our Lord. Everlasting life is all the reward we need. (“Do Christians Receive Rewards in Heaven for their Works on Earth?,” Tony Warren)

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