Larry Kirkpatrick

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I Want to Give My Heart to Jesus, part 6

I Want to Give My Heart to Jesus, part 6: Salvation After the New Testament

I have to confess: the presentation you are about to hear is really the one that I've been waiting for some time to give. Still, I'm glad to be giving it only now. The way has been opened for the sharing of other crucial points, including the Bibles' teaching about the nature of fallen man, how human Christ was and how obedient we can be, about a broader dynamic to the meaning of salvation than we've usually heard. We've invested three occasions in doing a thumbnail sketch of the Bible's teaching on salvation. We've seen the unity, the powerful connections between deliverance, healing, and salvation. And we've come to today.

The sense I have is that what we are about to share together will go a long ways toward bringing clarity to why we are seeing certain trends in the church today. We are going to track the issue of salvation understanding after the New Testament. That is, down through the ages of Christianity, after the original apostles and prophets died, what twists and turns (if any) did Christendom's general understanding of what salvation means take? Few issues are more important, because whatever fog filled the space of time between then and now could be difficult to see through.

The Missing Text From the Last Sermon!

In fact, I want to point out something very important. What was the topic of our previous message in this series? It was "Salvation in Acts through Revelation." In the brief time that we had, we did a little each from Acts, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, and Revelation. Now it is true that we all recognized that due to time limitations it was going to be impossible that the sermon would include everything in the New Testament pertaining to salvation, or even all of the most prominent texts. But now I have to point out a very powerful object lesson. To our shame -- both yours and mine -- no one has approached me between then and now and said, "Pastor, any sermon on salvation from Acts through Revelation simply must have, cannot pass by or neglect, the material on salvation in the book of James." No one has come and mentioned this.

Now let's be very honest. Did anyone even notice that omission at the time? Really, now be honest. Raise your hand if you did notice that during the last sermon. Really none of us did, did we? And yet, James includes a most profound text on salvation. Do you know what it is? Look there with me, at James 2:24: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." You might also recall the assertion in the passage -- no less than three times -- that "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17, 20, 26). All these lines are just as much a part of the Bible as the texts in Romans and Galatians and Ephesians. Why did we leave them out and not think twice about the omission? The answer is but moments away!

Unwittingly we've trained ourselves to "overlook" certain texts in the salvific realm. There are Scriptures that just seem to sink to the back burner and we never return to them. And here is one we never return to. After all, we all know that a man is "justified by faith alone." Only there is just one problem. The Bible contains no such text. It does not exist! You will find that "a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28), but never "justified by faith alone." Isn't that interesting!

Could it be that some until now almost unidentified aspect of our spiritual lineage has blinded us to certain things, leaving us with an emphasis strangely distorted? We'll return to our text in a little bit, but first let us remind ourselves of something. Our Father foretold the development of false teaching about salvation. He foretold that our emphasize would indeed become strangely distorted.

Prophesied Departure In Coming Time of False Teachers

Let us recall the testimony of the prophet Amos, who told us, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). The Bible tells us that there is a time of restitution, of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). It also tells us that between the time of Christ and our own day, a great falling away would come. Were we to take the time, we could go into this in considerable detail, but I think you already know the texts. Paul told us that in his day, "the mystery of iniquity" was already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:1-6), and that in the falling away the "man of sin" would be revealed.

In fact the New Testament overflows with texts foretelling a departure from sound teaching about salvation. Not only were there prophesies, but pointed warnings, like Colossians 2:8: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

The coming deceptions would be doctrinal ("doctrines of devils") (1 Timothy 4:1). They would have to do with salvation, promising liberty but denying the Lord, substituting a form of godliness in place of the real thing. There would come a day when the gospel of our salvation would be replaced with a "peace and safety" emphasis designed to bring us to slaughter. Hear the warning from 1 Thessalonians 5:3: "When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." But maybe we've wondered, are the "they" spoken of in this text those in the world or those in the church? We can know. In Thessalonians Paul was not just making random, free-floating observations. He was thinking of some passages from the Old Testament.

In Jeremiah 6:14 God condemns the leaders of His believing covenant people when He says, "They have healed the hurt also of the daughter of My people slightly, saying Peace, peace, when there is no peace." If you read the surrounding context you'll discover that the troubles among God's people in that day were covetousness, unbridled evil, and included failure to receive the warnings of His watchmen. It is surrounded by these issues that the word comes, "They have healed the hurt" but slightly, claiming peace when there was no peace; claiming spirituality and deliverance from evil when their cheapened teachings provided no such relief.

And it is yet more interesting that the same issue and the same words exactly come up again in Jeremiah 8:11. There the surrounding issues are idolatry, judging God's word, and really a form of proto-higher-criticism (see Jeremiah 8:8-9). What is striking is that, in both cases, it was the religious leaders who were droning out their "peace, peace" theology, and doing it in place of the word of the Lord. The word of the Lord would have healed His people; the word of the false shepherds wounds the people leaving them the worse. So when Paul prophesies that the day will come when they are saying "peace and safety," doubtless he has in mind the passages in Jeremiah, and is speaking plainly about the religious leaders whom elsewhere the New Testament indicates will, in future, "bring in damnable heresies, evening denying the Lord that bought them" (2 Peter 2:1).

Yes, the Bible is full of warnings, and the New Testament is full of warnings especially after the time of Christ, when, "in the latter times" some shall depart, not necessarily from the church, but "from the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1). We are also told that in the place of the truth there will come a rejection of sound teaching, and the assemblage of a large number of "false teachers" (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

So. We know what was to come. And the question remains: will we believe these prophesies as much as we believe the other ones about the 2300 day/year prophesy, about Jesus' second coming, and so forth? Will we believe also the scenario set up by the New Testament telling us plainly that many will come in the last days thinking they are doing God service and yet teaching soul-destroying error. I hope we'll take these just as serious!

The Prophesied Removal of the Daily

We've spent some time on the New Testament prophecies. Let's look at one of the Old Testament ones, a very serious one. You might be surprised. Turn over to the book of Daniel, and would you move to the place where you'll find the verse just before Daniel 8:14. Look closely at Daniel 8:13-14.

Then I heard one saint [literally "holy one"] speaking, and another saint [literally "holy one"] said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Now remember, if you have the King James Version, your translators have supplied the words you'll find there in italics. Just for the record, they did a very exceptional job too! (If you have one of the newer translations and you don't see the words added by the translators in italics, its not because they didn't add them. It's just because they don't care to make a distinction between what they've added and what was plainly in the text. Notwithstanding the fact that the difference is inaccessible to you since you have no training in biblical languages, they expect you to take their word for it. I much prefer the spirit of those deep Christian men who translated the KJV!) But among the words standing in the literal text of Scripture we have it that this vision is in reference to "the daily." But what is the daily?

It was the special sacrifice offered for all Israel by the priests, first in the morning and then in the evening. That sacrifice was burned on a slow fire, continually kept aflame. Together, these offerings represented the continued application of Christ's sacrifice to those receiving Him as their personal Savior. They assured that a temporary sacrifice always remained, protecting the sinner while he ventured to bring his sacrificial animal to the sanctuary. At the morning and evening sacrifices the officiating priest laid his hands on the animal, laying the sins of the nation upon it. The daily was always burning, every day of the year, even upon the Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It was a most important sacrifice.

Christianity is not lived only in theory. It is lived day by day. False religions may make much of theory because that is their native realm. We can speak of salvation in terms of past, present, or future tense, but always it will boil down to today, this moment, this hour. Where is my heart? Does my Jesus have it or do I? So "the daily" has a central place. It reminds of the sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus, applied daily to the life. To speak of "the daily" is to weigh in on the whole salvation plan.

To attempt to take away the daily is to endeavor to break the plan of salvation -- to remove the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ from His needy and spiritually bankrupt people. It is to attempt to intervene with a counterfeit salvation scheme. It is to seek the eternal genocide of God's people.

The Covering

The daily was intimately tied with the day of atonement, a service occurring once a year, cleansing the camp of Israel of all sin. Today we hear it called Yom Kippur, literally the "day of covering." Now keep this in your mind: the day of covering is not a day when sin is hidden, but when sin is removed. The yom kippur had to do with removing sin from the camp of Israel. Now there was a process by which God did that. Once a year and only once a year the high Priest himself went into the sanctuary, into the most Holy place where stood the ark of the covenant. The presence of God's shining shekinah glory stood over it and inside the ark lay the tablets of God's law, the Ten Commandments. All through the year the sins of the nation of Israel were continually transferred to the sanctuary structure and God cleaned house once a year. That was His yom kippur, His day of covering.

If you think that God's plan is to cover up sin but not resolve the sin problem, then how greatly mistaken you are. Now its true that even the Bible says "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalm 32:1). And a certain way of thinking thinks that would be blessed, if you could have your transgression forgiven, your sin covered, but then keep on doing it. But Psalm 32 does not end after its first verse. Hear its second verse: "Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, [now pay attention closely to the next part!] and in whose spirit there is no guile." Here is a most important principle. Covering sin is not covering it up, but expelling it, removing it. If we are clinging to sin we are not blessed. What are the wages of sin? "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Are you blessed if you take death to your bosom? No. But you will be blessed indeed if your transgression is forgiven, your sin is covered, and your heart made guileless by the gospel of Christ. It does that.

Jesus didn't die to cover-up our sin, but to remove it. His "covering" for man is not just spray-painted onto the outside, but it is a complete "covering" of the whole of the sin problem. It impacts our entire heart and mind. Covering as used in this context has the meaning of an all-encompassing coverage. This is no mere authoritative covering, but a dealing-with of the entire problem on the broad-scale.

A Revealed Schedule for the Satanic Attack on Our Salvation Understanding

The vision that Daniel saw was in reference to "the daily." The daily has obvious and unquestioned reference to the ministry of the Hebrew sanctuary in the wilderness and then later as the temple in Jerusalem. There it is linked to the transference of sin from God's people to the sanctuary structure and its eventual elimination from the camp altogether. In other words, everything we are seeing here has to do with sin in the large-scale, the removal of sin from God's people. So if Satan intends to keep us under sin, he must take away the daily, he must introduce a counterfeit plan of salvation. If such an introduction would be ultimately successful, it must sound plausible enough to fool many worshippers. It must be tailored to be whatever they would tend to desire because of their fallen nature, and yet have enough truth to seem authentic. Remember one angel said to another angel that the sanctuary would be "trodden under foot" for many days. But at the end of the 2300 days/years the sanctuary "would be cleansed."

So, we know that some time between 457 B.C. and A.D. 1844 Satan would launch his great scheme to undermine, to counterfeit and thus "take away the daily." And we know from the New Testament that in the closing days of earth's history "many" false teachers would come and teach a form of salvation that was but mere form of godliness. Through what entity would this occur?

Since Satan well understood the day-for-a-year principle of Bible prophecy and prepared for the Messiah's arrival as prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27, his best course of action would be to launch his attack after Jesus and the earliest manifestation of the church was over, so we expect him to wait until the time just after the New Testament writings were given. And I believe he did that very thing.

Enter Little Horn

Just as God in all His divine wisdom planted the center of His battle in Palestine, so He permitted Satan to make Rome his launch-point for his inevitable attack on the daily. Satan must be permitted somewhere on the earth to manifest his power and show the out-working of his plan of governance. The little horn power of Daniel seven -- prophesied to be diverse from the other kingdoms, to have eyes like the eyes of man, to mouth great things against God, to make war against the saints, to persecute them, to think to change times and laws--that power rose not in the east but the west.

In fact, it was the west's ever-increasing insistence on its own supremacy, on the necessity that all, including the church of the east, bow to the pope, led to the great schism of A.D. 1054, the split between western and eastern streams. The focus of the prophecies concerning the little horn centers primarily in the west where were located the ten tribes, three of them soon uprooted by it. And so as we will now explain, two very different, very distinct general emphases arose in Christendom. Let us consider them.

The West-East Divide

"Legal" Emphasis Develops in Western Christianity

OK, let's walk through this now. I want to share something with you that you will find astounding. You see, very, very early Christian thought broke out into varied streams. Over the next few minutes we are going to detail some of the most telling ways in which this happened, because when we finish with that you are going to see exactly where we are!

The earliest split we want to talk about is between the more allegorical and fanciful readings of Scripture rising from Alexandria Egypt, combined with the very legally-oriented tendencies coming out of Rome to the north, and that Christianity which arose in the east, in Jerusalem and Antioch. In Antioch where they were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), a strong group rose up intent on letting the Word of God speak for itself, its plain and true meaning being their focus. They undertook their work in an environment much different than the influences in Alexandria or the thoroughly Roman influences in Rome. Thus, from the very beginning there are two almost mutually exclusive approaches to the Word of God -- one western and one eastern. The western tends to both the fanciful and the legal combined, the eastern to the more literal.

The next point to observe is that after a long and harrowing era of persecution, Constantine early in the fourth century brought paganism and Christianity together and blended church and state. The attitude a Christian body takes toward the state, we are going to find, has much to do with how it views itself and its mission! We'll return to this.

We must also point out that there are two break-away points, one early in the second century and then the Constantinian one. At these points God's true believers separated from the "catholic" church in large numbers because of her departures from truth. But that won't stop us from tracking the developments among those who continued on in the broader streams of compromised religion.

As the years rolled on, a particular emphasis began to develop more and more strongly in the west. The man now known as St. Augustine had a giant influence on the thought of his times and has a large share in having molded western Christendom's very, very legal and forensic emphasis that even today remains the predominant lens through which Christianity views itself. Issues were shaped very much in terms of salvation as a legal experience, an obligation-type system in which the relationship between Creator and creatures is formatted by heaven's announcement of a series of legal points. As we meet these obligations, God must meet His. Salvation is slimmed-down to a single transaction point in time. If we apply the expected legal remedies, God owes us our salvation and that's that.

Mind you, there certainly is an aspect of salvation that is "legally" oriented. The New Testament does, among the language used, speak often to us in terms of conditions and wages, even of salvation as encompassed in a moment in time. We're not here to deny that at all. But here is a crucial point: in the west -- the part of Christianity to which we are so closely wired -- salvation in terms of a legal, forensic experience was the undisputed emphasis. The cross became the point in time when the heavenly cash-register rang and God the Father collected the price of our salvation in coin of Christ's life. There is some truth in that. But there is more. For example, there is what was happening in the east . . .

"Healing" Emphasis Rises in Eastern Christianity

Now something completely different, perhaps completely new to most of us here. In the east, centering in Constantinople and throughout that region, the emphasis of Christians developed very differently. There, the preaching, the teaching, and the living, focused differently. It focused on redemption not in cold, merely legal terms, but as a healing of the believer.

Key concepts developed in the east were the restoration of the imagio dei, the image of God in man, and the idea of Theosis. Theosis is (very) roughly equivalent to sanctification in the way you and I think. Theosis is humankind's elevation toward God, into communion with Him, into godlikeness. It is not man becoming God but our drawing ever closer to Him, our reception of His infilling. The imagio dei is the image of God. It, like theosis, means our progress in expressing the image more and more clearly in our experience.

You might be interested in knowing also that in the east there has been much more clarity of thought about the incarnation of Jesus than has usually been in the west. In the west it is admitted that Jesus was both, fully God and fully man; but the emphasis is always on that He was fully God, with very little said about His humanity. In the east they also say that Jesus was both God and man, but they have tended to be even-handed with it, and not nearly so shy about the humanity of Christ.

The Great Schism

In the west, the main legal emphasis in Christian thought inevitably led the church to look-backwards and focus on the cross. In the east, emphasis on humanity's being repaired through the gospel led the church consistently to look forward, toward higher and higher spiritual attainments through the inward work of the Holy Spirit.

These very different emphases meant an ever broadening gap between what the popular church was in the east and what it was in the east. Finally, in A.D. 1054 the "great Schism" occurred as west and east split sharply when Rome pressed her teaching of Papal supremacy on the east and it was rejected.

Much more might be said about this, but let me just summarize these emphases as follows:

Western Christianity Eastern Christianity
Juridicial Healing
Christianity as a State Christianity as a process
Emphasis on Jesus' divinity More even-handed emphasis on His humanity
backward-looking forward-looking

Don't misunderstand me. There is plenty of "leakage" from western Christianity into the east. Images in the church, saints as intercessors, a very Marian-orientation, strong church hierarchy, a thorough-going sacramentalism, authoritative tradition, and other points are common to eastern just as in western. By no means is the east pure. But it is of interest that most of its theological thought grew out of its strong preference for the very early Greek Christian writers. Eastern Christianity's strong focus on the gospel as healing seems to grow out of the dominant emphases found in the Scriptures. Many of God's true people had already left, and were numbered not with the giant western and eastern churches, but with the continuing church in the wilderness. And yet as they persisted in carrying the torch, these other ways of thinking were continually developing, continually distorting the more socially accepted religious bodies.

Back to the West: Two Groups of Reformers

Protestantism descends historically from the western stream of Christianity. This is our own spiritual ancestry. So we will be especially at risk of seeing everything through those eyes -- in cold legal terms. Let's look more closely though at something. Really, we want to distinguish between two groups of reformers in Protestantism.

First Wave: The Magisterial Reformers

One group traces back to the first wave of Reformers, called by historians the "Magisterial" Reformers. The magisterials are Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, out of which arose the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. God used these workers in a mighty way. Through Luther came the giant thrust that began the reformation. With everyone in the west engulfed by the legal theology of the Roman Catholic Church -- its works-based system of salvation, its emphasis that salvation comes through its religious structure only, its hiding of the Scriptures from its people, and even its selling of indulgences, Luther boldly attacked many of its worst features. He said that salvation was by faith, not works, he fought against indulgences, he said that the religious structure of that church couldn't save you, and he translated the Scriptures into the language of the people and spread them far and near. Luther was mightily used of God. Calvin was too.

But both Luther and Calvin had before their reformation been heavily involved in reading the works of Augustine, who had taught that we were all guilty of Adam's sin. Augustine had written much in favor of the church and state operating together. And his viewpoint on prophecy was such that it changed the way the western church viewed that topic for over a 1000 years! The emphasis of Luther and Calvin had been to reform their church, not to go back to the purity of the early church. So what they did was to remove much of the theological lint that had built up since the time of Augustine. Yet they found it difficult to see clearly. So much rubbish obscured the horizon. And they were not able to sort through the false beliefs Augustine had brought into the church. So, in spite of all the good that come through them (and there was much, much good), through them a large load of error leaked into Protestantism. The western emphasis on legal salvation, that even today leads certain Christians to ask you, "Are you saved?" in terms of a past-tense sense comes from this direction.

There is much to appreciate, and much that is biblical in that perspective. But as we have seen, it tends to leave out the eastern emphasis on healing -- the very one we found over and over again in our previous three presentations. The western emphasis is incomplete. It is part of the reformation. But in the west there is another very important group of reformers. Historians call them the "Radical Reformation."

Second Wave: The Radical Reformation

Eventually another group of reformers arose. Their study convinced them that the first wave of reformers hadn't gone far enough. Important and crucial reforms had been made, but many issues remained. This group sought not only to reform but to restore. They desired to go back -- all the way back -- to the church of the New Testament. Their perspective was what is called "restorationist." Among these we find Simon Menno whom the Mennonites trace back to. We also discover the Anabaptists, the "rebaptisers," whom the Baptists trace to. There are some strange things that trace back to this group, hence the term "Radical Reformers." But we need to notice that certain very good things also trace back to them.

For example, it was from the Anabaptists that the ideas of personal accountability and religious freedom came to the fore. They were branded as heretics because they rejected infant baptism and baptized believers who by personal conviction wished to accept Christ. Since the individual had not freely chosen for himself, the baptism of an infant didn't count. Also, these reformers looked back on Constantine's blending of church and state with disdain, recognizing in that intoxicating blend a grave apostasy by the church.

On Roots, Distortion, and Revisionism

The Baptist church descends from the Calvinist wing of the reformation and the Anabaptist wing. The Calvinist tradition is very much in favor of church and state operating together and overlapping, while the Anabaptist thoroughly rejects that. But to where has that church come today? Now they have almost entirely abandoned the Anabaptist line and almost wholly centered on the Calvin one. And who today is pushing to reunite church and state! It tends to be our Baptist neighbors. Brothers and sisters, things are changing.

Even our own church, which traces back to the first wave of the Reformation in its attitude about Scripture, traces also back to the second. What do we think of Constantine's Sunday law? Bad news! What do we think of Constantine blending church and state together? We see it as a great departure from God's plan. Do we baptize infants? No, not at all, in harmony with our agreement with the Anabaptist viewpoints of the second wave Reformation. We then are very much a restorationist church, second wavers rather than first. But from the articles in our church publications you would think that we had not a second wave bone in our body. Someone out there is trying to rewrite our history, to change what we are. We need to be watchful and avoid mutation and to suffer the same fate as our Baptist friends.

The Methodist Restoration

The Anglicans arose in England and broke away from the Catholic church. But while structurally they broke away, they kept almost all of her errors. But out of the Anglicans arose another group. John Wesley was an Anglican, and he studied for the ministry. All around him he saw the Anglican church departing from truth, becoming more and more worldly. He read his Bible and became convinced that holiness was to be sought, that it was a good thing and not a bad. While at University he started what was called "the Holiness Club," seeking out and teaching how Christians could methodically increase in their spirituality. From Wesley then, eventually arose the Methodists.

The Methodists were a movement led of God. By the close of the 16th century they were spreading in America, changing the religious landscape of our continent. Many of the hymns in our hymnal come from the Methodists. Do you recall the the hymn we sang not long ago, "The Great Physician Now Is Near"? That was a Methodist hymn. You see, Wesley emphasized the healing nature of the gospel. He emphasized holiness, changed people. And you might be interested in knowing that he was strongly influenced by some of the early Greek writers from the eastern tradition of Christianity. He drank from both the west and the east. Through him Protestantism regained some of the "healing" emphasis it had lost.

The Little horn had sought to take away the daily. But its time was limited. Now the right ideas on salvation began to be restored. Holiness returned, healing returned. And along away down in the closing 1830s a young lady sat in church on Sunday mornings. It was a Methodist church. She was listening. Her name was Ellen G. Harmon . . .

James 2:24 On Salvation

OK. We said we would come back to our "missing text" on salvation, James 2:24. Not once, but three times in this passage we find that assertion that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 20, 26). Verse 24 actually says that a man is justified by works. We can't change that; that's what the Bible says. The question is in what sense is a man justified by works. Again, cannot we take this text as we do all the others in the Bible and let it speak for itself? Let it harmonize with everything else? We mustn't bend this text to make it fit another idea we have about salvation from somewhere else. Everything must fit without being forced. We mustn't force the Bible to teach salvation only from the western perspective, especially after the little horn has gotten in and led us away from the wholistic Bible picture of what salvation is.

Let's consider for a moment the example given by James. Read James 2:21-24:

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.

Now, two simple questions. First, when was it that Abraham was asked to offer up his son in sacrifice? That comes out of Genesis 22, doesn't it? In fact, Isaac is now about 20 years old, so this would be twenty years later than the promise mentioned in James 2:23. If you look up that verse (that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness," you won't find it in Genesis 22, but all the way back in Genesis 15:6. Back then, Abraham had been asking God if he would ever have a son. So James cites these two parts of Abraham's experience, even twenty years apart! And then he says that "faith wrought with his [Abraham's] works, and by works was faith made perfect." Next comes the declaration in James 2:23, "and the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness."

I hope you didn't miss the significance of that. Here is the second question: When was the Scripture fulfilled that said that Abraham was imputed as righteous? Genesis 15:6 said that when God promised him a son, he [Abraham] believed Him, and he was imputed as righteous. But James reminds us that it is equally true that it was two decades later when Abraham faced the test of faith and passed that "the Scripture was fulfilled," that said he believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.

So here we are. James points, not to a moment in time in Abraham's experience, but years and years of walking, growing, believing, acting, doing. This, he says, is how "faith wrought with his works," and by works was made perfect (James 2:22).

So we see that faith and works go together. Neither alone saves, neither can be truly what it is and be alone. We are saved by Jesus, perhaps we can even say by Christ alone. But we will never find anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, a statement in the Bible that says we are saved by faith alone. Western Christianity wants to turn salvation into an entirely legal transaction. But God wants to heal us; He wants to both deal with the legal aspects and the healing elements. He has promised to save His people, and that means an actual salvation. When we give our hearts to Jesus this is what He would accomplish. For this let us praise the Lord.


Brothers and sisters, we've talked today about something very important. Are we today basing our understanding of salvation on that which truly harmonizes with the Bible, or are we content with a partial removal of truth and willing to hear but one aspect of salvation and that distorted and at the expense of the other? Is the little horn power seeking to take away the daily? Have creative salvific variants been launched into the thought-streams of Christianity?

Now we know some of the answers. Just as prophesied in the New Testament, aberrations have come in. An attempt has been made, with some success, to take away the daily, to readjust "the covering" of the plan of salvation. Down to the time when the Advent movement was about to dawn, both God and the devils were working, operating at war with each other, one force vying to save, the other to destroy humanity. Now we know more of where we stand in the conflict, where we came from, and what is happening. Remember, Jesus was manifest to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). If you and I would give our hearts to Jesus, it is well to know who we are, where we stand in relation to the distortions and errors brought in down through the ages, and where we are going. God grant us His help in making straight in the desert a highway for our Lord. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isaiah 40:4-5).

Next week, a break as our elder Philip Steinwig speaks, but the week after we'll continue with I want to Give My Heart to Jesus #7: The Advent Awakening and Rise of the Seventh-day Advent Movement. Let us pray.


Mentone CA SDA 2001-08-24