PART 12 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 7:00am

Is Salvation Obtained by Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly works?

PART 12 The Spirituality Puzzle
What causes someone to become a child of God and have assurance of eternal life?

Chapter 20
Are Godly Works Necessary in the Salvation Process?

Godly works evidences that a believer is operating in the fruit of the Spirit. In agreement with the salvation message of Repentance and Belief, a believer has fellowship with the Holy Spirit, when they participate in his influences (graces; fruit - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance). Philippians 2:1 This fruit is developed by having our mind renewed by hearing, learning, memorizing, meditating, and applying God’s word or his perspective concerning ourselves, others, and the circumstances of life. Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:22-24. However, Godly works evidences that the person is truly saved. This is called ‘saving faith’.
This perspective states that faith is proved true by what the person does. In other words, no one can be a Christian or really is a Christian w/out being like Christ. Faith without works is no faith at all. If a person repents, believes, is baptized in water, and evidences no godly works at all or evidences godly works for a while and then falls back into the way of their sin nature, then either they were never saved in the first place (their repentance, belief, and water baptism was not genuine) or they have lost their salvation.
Losing one’s salvation means that the indwelling Spirit departs from them and the two spiritual benefits provided by water baptism are no longer in effect. What kind of behavior would someone notice or look for that would indicate to them that a fellow believer has lost their salvation? Here are some of the reasons for a believer losing their salvation.
A believer would lose their salvation:

~ Through willful disobedience146.

~ When they turn completely to the dark side and decide that he/she wants to worship Satan as a result of the wealth and power that he may be able to give him/her while he/she is still living down here on earth147.

~ When they have decided to join and live in some type of organized crime, who gets into killing and murdering others for their own gain and profit148.

~ When they get into the heavier types of sins on a frequent basis with no intention of trying to pull out of them149.

~ When they stop believing150.

~ When they had participated in church activities, perhaps even seemed to be used of God – then dropped it all and walked away151.

~ When they engaged in certain sins, or a certain amount of sin, or a certain amount of time in sin152.

~ When they continue to live in any particular sin(s) without repentance.
If scripture indeed proves the conjecture that a person’s salvation is dependent on them evidencing godly works, then what this is essentially saying is that a person’s fellowship with God or lack thereof impacts their relationship with Him. In my mind, this is a difficult concept to grasp. You might respond to me by saying it is difficult because you have been taught that salvation is by grace through faith or to say this in a different way by repentance and belief.
You are right in that in most of the churches I have been involved in I have been taught salvation is by grace through faith. As I said earlier, and still maintain now, as I am writing this manuscript and maybe soon to be book, I am trying not to let scriptural bias or personal perspective taint this study. I hope I am being objective as I can be.
What I would like to do next is present to you the scriptures that believers of this salvation message use to support their perspective that godly works evidence salvation. I have tried to select those that I believe are the paramount ones. Are you ready to take a look at them?

The first section of verses we will look at are taken from the book of 1 John.

Is a Liar
1 John 2:3-4
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

The apostle John is conveying that we as Christians know that we know Christ, if we keep his commandments. What does it mean to know that we know him? The first word “know” means to come to recognize. The second word “know” means to know in a personal way, to be intimately acquainted with a person’s intentions and character153; to have evidence to show that we are a Christian.
We are told that what causes us, Christians, to know that we know Him in this manner is by keeping his commandments. As we have discussed this in an early chapter, this word means the commands that were given to the church by the apostles and/or by Christ when he lived on earth as pertaining to this dispensation and does not refer to the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Law.
So, if we were to keep (habitual observance of) his commandments, then some of the examples of such are as follows.
a. Love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Peter 1:22)
b. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
c. Stop surrendering any part of yourselves as weapons of wicked purposes to do evil. (Romans 6:13)
d. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

But for those who say I know him intimately (professing to be a Christian) and they do not observe or operate in his commandments (various commands) then he/she is a liar (is a phony; is not saved) as indicated by the fact that the truth of God’s word is not evident in his/her behavior. So, there you have it. This is a very convincing verse that if someone does not operate in Christ’s commandments (various commands), then he/she is a liar (is not saved).

Now, let’s take a look at some more verses, which are used to support the perspective that someone is saved as long as they continue to obey Christ.

The book of Hebrews is where we will go next.

That Obey Him
Hebrews 5:8-9
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

The writer of Hebrews says that though Christ were a Son, the Son of God, yet he became personally and practically acquainted with the true meaning of obedience as pertaining to the things which he suffered (in terms of the suffering it entailed154; in the deepest sorrows of the body and the soul155).

9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

And being made perfect (when he had finished his course of tremendous sufferings, and consummated the whole by his death and resurrection156), he became the author (the causing; the source) of eternal salvation (to be saved forever) only to those who obey him. This is saying that only those who obey him will receive from him eternal salvation (to be saved forever). So, the question is how does someone obey him?
A believer will continue to be saved if they obey him (are loyal to his commands157; on an obedience modeled after that of Jesus who also suffered158; if they repent, turn from sin, believe on Jesus as being a sufficient ransom and sacrifice for his soul, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, be a worker together with him, walk in conformity to the divine will through this divine aid, and continue faithful unto death159).
As we can see, according to this gospel, salvation is not predicated on repentance and faith alone, but by living a godly life, i.e. performing godly works.

Let’s continue on, and take a look at some of the other verses that might be considered as instrumental in formulating the doctrinal view that the salvation message of Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly Works will cause an unbeliever to find God or become a child of his and go to a better place at death.

Please go to the book of Matthew.

But He That Shall Endure unto the End, the Same Shall Be Saved
Suggested Reading: Matthew 24:1-31
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Jesus is with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. While there, they ask him three questions. The first has to do with, as to when the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and the Jewish state will be destroyed? The second has to do with, as to when will he return? And the third, as to when will the end of the world take place?
He responded by telling them that there will be a future time called the beginning of sorrows when there will be certain things to look for that will indicate that the end of the world is near.
Some of these things that will be evident are that there will be:

~ Those who will claim to be the Christ and deceive many.
~ International wars, civil wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes in different places.
~ Believers who will be afflicted (punished) and put to death, and because of such many will stop believing in Him, even turning one another over to the authorities.
~ Iniquity or wickedness abounding everywhere and subsequently brotherly love will no longer be a characteristic of those who follow God.
~ The occurrence of an abomination (a sacrilege; idolatry) that will occur in the temple area.
~ A declaration of the gospel of the kingdom made to everyone on the earth.

While it’s true that most of what is going on here has been going on since the Church Age began, however, what is noteworthy is that there are a few things, which are declared to happen that will signify that these things didn’t happen before or hadn’t happened for a long period of time such as: everyone in the world will have heard the gospel; the temple at Jerusalem will be rebuilt and Jewish worship will be reinstituted; almost everyone on earth will be killed; the world as we know it will come to an end; and the Messiah of the Jews will return.
Some believe that the time period during which these events will occur is seven years and is otherwise referred to as the Tribulation Period or Age. Just prior to this period of time, it is believed that a world ruler will arrive on the scene of international events and intervene at a time of possible world annihilation and bring about world peace. It is possible that some kind of a treaty will be signed that will hold up for three and a half years. However, at the end of this time it is alleged that this world ruler will do something that will cause this agreement to collapse.
The way scriptures describe it, he apparently becomes full of himself and decides to enter the temple area and place an image of himself in it to be worshipped, and then all hell will break loose. This changes the peaceful climate of the world into one of full out assault with one main target and that is to annihilate the Jewish nation. Before the world destroys itself entirely, Christ returns and intervenes.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

According to this gospel, those who endure to the end are Christians, who if they do so, will not lose their salvation. What must they do or evidence in order for their salvation to be kept?
In order to endure unto the end, this could refer any of the following evidences: i.e. to obey Christ’s commandments, to bear afflictions and persecutions faithfully; to not grow cold or apostatize either during the time in which believers now live or during the seven-year tribulation period. Those who adhere to this view believe that Christians will along with those Jews who believed in the gospel of the kingdom will be hunted down and persecuted. And the protocol for a Christian maintaining or keeping their salvation will be the same then as it is now, they must perform godly works.
That was a lot of information which was just presented, but unless we are informed thoroughly, we will only understand in a limited fashion as to why someone in leadership believes the way they do as in this particular case.

What we will take a look at next are scriptures from the book of Galatians, which connects the committing of habitual sin with the loss of salvation.

Those Who Live Like This
Galatians 5:13; 19-21
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Here, Paul is speaking directly to his "brothers and sisters," which means he is speaking to Christians - those who were already saved. Yet after listing the acts of the flesh (sins), he warns them - Christians - that by living "like this" they would not inherit the kingdom of God, thus they would no longer be saved. Paul is not referring to committing a single act of sin intermittently, but to "live like this" means one is not practicing self-control nor are they repenting of the sin(s) of which they are committing, rather they are regularly committing the sin(s). Their life consists of these sins. The fact that Paul here is warning the Christians that they will not inherit the kingdom of God if their life is like this shows that one can lose their salvation based on way of life.

The next section of scriptures seems to clearly portray a picture of Christians, who left their faith and followed false prophets and teachers and thus went back to their former ways having lost their salvation.

If After They Have Escaped the Pollutions of the World Suggested Reading: 2 Peter 2:1-22
1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Peter is instructing the Christian Jews to watch out, because there will be false prophets and teachers, who will privately (the metaphor is that of a spy or traitor; the introduction of false teaching alongside the true160) bring in damnable heresies (self-chosen doctrines) and deny (disown; denounce; by immorality under a cloak of religion) Jesus, who bought (purchased by the blood sacrifice on the cross) them, and will bring upon themselves swift destruction. And then the apostle Peter seems to indicate that some might have already done so and followed the teachings of these false prophets and teachers, and if this is indeed the case then here is what he has to say about them.

20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

For if after they (the converted to the Christian faith) have escaped the pollutions (the moral corruptions through evil acts) of the world by the knowledge (the moral and ethical influence of the word of God that caused their outward lives to be pure; of one that truly knows Christ, who has been taught by him to put off the old man and to put on the new man161) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled (gone back; a gradual process; as they persisted in the false teaching that grace gave license to sin, they became entangled in their former licentious ways162) therein to their former immoral lives, and are overcome (trapped again by the powers of these worldly lusts163), then the latter end (current state they are in) is worse (more capable of iniquity; of a more severe degree of punishment) than the beginning (before they were saved).

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

It had been better for them not to have (fully) known the way of righteousness (the gospel), than to have turned from (a change of mind; a change of direction) the holy commandment (the whole religion of Christ) that they were instructed in. Why was it better for them not to have known the gospel? It was because they lost something they had received, that being their salvation.

We could go on looking at many more scriptures that appear to support the view that the performing of godly works secures a believer’s salvation, but if we did this, it would take us to the return of Christ. Only joking. However, there is one more section of scriptures that are considered primary as to this perspective, which are found in the book of James.

Be Ye Doers of The Word, and Not Hearers Only
Suggested Reading: James 1:22-25; 2:14-26
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

The apostle James is addressing Jewish Christians, those who were scattered abroad beyond Palestine. He is instructing them to be doers (to live out the gospel message; to put the word into practice) of the word and not just hearers only, thereby deceiving themselves (not practicing what they hear and know).

James 1:23-25 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

After which, he gives an example of what any Christian, who is only a hearer of the word, is liken unto. They are like a man who is attentively observing and considering his reflected image (his natural face; who he used to be) in a mirror, who goes his own way and does not put the word into practice. James then decides to address the matter of not being a doer, but only a hearer, by providing an example of such.

James 2:14-16 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?

He says that if a man proclaims that he has faith (genuine faith; saving faith), and evidences no godly deeds, then can the faith he claims he is operating in, save him? The answer is no, because godly works are necessary if a man would have evidence that he is justified164. If what was just said isn’t enough to convince someone that faith without works is not genuine, he then goes on to illustrate this by the examples given in the lives of Abraham and Rahab, as many commentators seem to use them to formulate another connection between faith, works, and salvation and that salvation is not just by belief, but also evidenced by works. We’ll confine the example of such to that provided of Abraham.

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

With this example in mind, this verse states that Abraham was justified (considered a righteous person; accepted by God) by his works (by his conduct; proof … that a man is justified by works and not by faith only165; good works and a holy life; and where that exists it shows that the faith is genuine166), when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
We can now deduce what someone would proclaim to unbelievers concerning salvation as pertaining to the message of this gospel to unbelievers. What is said might be something like the following.

The salvation message is the good news of Jesus Christ, the message of which is that God sent him, his Son, being deity, who is one of the members of the trinity, the other two being God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, being born of a virgin, having never committed one sin, died on a cross, paid the penalty for sin in order to satisfy the justice of God the Father, having forgiven all sin putting it away forever never bringing them up again, rose again after three days never to die again, his sacrifice being accepted by God the Father, and ascended into heaven to be seated at the Father’s right hand. Prior to, but understood to be aligned with it, the unbeliever would be asked to repent (a confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them167).
Following their confession of faith, we will remind them that hopefully in the near future they will be baptized in water, and by adhering faithfully to the Bible they will be evidencing godly works. John 7:37-39; John 3:16; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:10

And by the way, here are some of the other views that go along with this salvation message:

●Water baptism forgives sins.
●Water baptism causes the receiving of the indwelling Spirit.
●Water baptism is necessary in the salvation process, without it a person is not saved.
●Godly works evidences whether a person’s salvation is genuine.
●A believer who lives in habitual sin will lose their salvation.
●Water baptism causes a person to be placed in union with Christ and be actually identified with Christ in his death and resurrection.

With all of the information, we have looked at in respect to this salvation message this question remains.

What one of these salvation messages is the right one?

Is it the salvation message of Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly Works or is it the salvation message of Repentance and Belief?

I would have to conclude that the scriptures used and translated in accordance with the description of the salvation message, which would cause a believer to find God or become his child and go to a better place at death, seem to give credibility to both perspectives. With this in mind, we have a dilemma as there appears to be two different salvation messages (gospels). Is there only one? Can there be two?

Galatians 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

From what was conveyed by the apostle Paul to the Christians at Galatia there is only one gospel (salvation message). In order to determine which gospel is the right one, we need to study further. But before we do, I would like you to read over a summary of the specific aspects of each of these two salvation messages which is presented in a compare and contrast table in the next chapter. This way you can clearly see how they are similar and how they differ.

Endnotes
146What is the Assemblies of God position on the security of the believer’s salvation? 13 January 2019 ˂http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs>.
147Can a Christian lose salvation? 20 August 2012 ˂http://www.bible-knowledge.com/lose-your-salvation/>.
148Can a Christian lose salvation?
149Can a Christian lose salvation?
150Eternal Security- or Can a Christian Lose His Salvation? 20 January 2019 ˂http://www.equipsaints.org/EternSec.htm>.
151Eternal Security.
152Eternal Security.
153UBS New Testament.
154Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
155Barnes.
156Adam Clarke.
157UBS New Testament.
158Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
159Adam Clarke.
160Wuest.
161Calvin.
162Weust.
163UBS New Testament.
164Barnes.
165The Pulpit. 166Barnes.
167Barnes.

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