Grace, a Gift from God

53.5 Come Now and Let Us Reason Together

by: Hubert F. Sturges,www.144000.cc, October 2009


Topics:

What is the process by which a man is saved?

Ye Must be Born Again

Some Gospel Logic

 

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18)

What is the Process by which a man is saved?

When the Philippian Jailer asked the question, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul gave a very straight-forward answer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:25-34).

Yet, when the rich young ruler came asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments. When the young man indicated that he had kept them all his life, Jesus asked him to sell all that he had and to come and follow Him (Matthew 19:16-22).

We don’t know of his making this requirement of any of the disciples. What is the principle behind this requirement for salvation?

In these two stories we find a paradox in the teaching of the New Testament. Was Jesus teaching works and Paul teaching grace? That is impossible. So there must be something deeper.

To the Jews, keeping the law was important. And Jesus supported keeping the law, in fact He emphasized an even deeper law-keeping than the Jews were used to. He said that one must keep the law from the heart. It must spring from the deep-seated love of God in the heart, or such law keeping was worthless.

Thus in his conversation with the rich young ruler, Jesus carefully led him to see that he was not keeping the law at all. When faced with that reality, the young man turned away. While he "kept the law" he would not believe in Jesus! It would cost just too much for him to follow Jesus.

When Paul talked to the Philippian jailer the issue was would he accept Jesus, the Jewish Messiah? That would expose him to persecution, being ostracized, possibly loss of job, and maybe even death. But the jailer saw in Christ something he valued more than all these. He showed a deep belief that led to action. He immediately brought his whole family into the circle too.

Did the Jailer keep the law? He probably at that time did not even know about the law, but with his deep felt belief, he was ready to keep every law that Jesus asked him to keep.

The first step in salvation is a belief in Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to be Born Again? To be a New Creature?

When Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night, he thought to engage Jesus in a theological discussion. But Jesus came right to the point: "Ye must be born again!"

To be born again means you start life over anew. The old life of sin is washed away, and you begin life in a new direction. You no longer desire the things of the world, but your eyes are focused on Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world. It is a radical change made in your life.

Paul used the term, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold , all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be born again is the same of being a new creature. The motives of the heart are changed, made new in Christ.

Does the "new creature" have no trouble, trials, or temptation? Are you completely free of sin? Are you now saved forever, and cannot be lost? These are all good questions. It is now important for the "new creature" to remain "in Christ." Jesus is the Author of your faith, but there is work to do, as Jesus is also the finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2).

When you turn to Christ, you usually does so because of a specific issue in your life at that time. In turning to Christ your motives and interests are changed, and you are converted on certain sins that are active in your life at the time. But you still have unknown sins and will have the sinful nature until Christ comes again, and "this corruptible shall put on incorruption" (2 Thessalonians ..).

But you are covered by the robe of Christ’s righteousness. He will permit trials and temptations to come to show you your weak points. When that happens you must turn to Christ, ask for His help, and choose Him. If you fail to do this, you will be led around and tested again, and again until you gain the victory – or are lost to that sin. Thus faith leads step by step to virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:4-8).

Some Gospel Logic

I love the passage, 1 John 1:6-10. It is an exercise in logic that tells us something about perfection and gives us assurance.

"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth;

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:6-10

Let us just look at these verses and see what each one says:

vs 6: If we claim to be Christian, to follow Jesus, and continue to walk in sin, we lie.

vs 7: But if we walk as Jesus walked and follow His example in the sinless life, we will have fellowship one with another. There is an implied correlation between "fellowship with him" in verse 6 and "fellowship one with another" in verse 7. Our love for Christ will lead you to love your fellow man! Having this fellowship with Christ and with your fellow man is a measure of your walk in the light; and leads to your cleansing by the blood of Jesus.

vs 8: You are cleansed from sin, yet if you claim to have no sin you deceive yourself. Cleansing from sin is a lifelong process. The closer you come to Christ, the more you see how sinful you are. This opens a gap that is bridged only by the cross of Christ.

vs 9: But if you recognize your sin, confess your sin, Jesus will forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness. The "all" here I believe refers to His doing a complete work of cleansing from the sin you have confessed. There will be other unknown sins you will yet have to confess and ask for forgiveness and cleansing for. The search for these unknown sins or "blind spots" is not easy. It is the "affliction of the soul" spoken of in the Old Testament.

Confessing sin when it is recognized is important. It is dangerous to hide or defend your sin. It is impossible for Jesus to forgive such sin, or to give the cleansing you so much need. Confession is also an important step that you must take consciously and deliberately. That you can do. Jesus does the rest – forgives and cleanses.

vs 10: This may be the most important step. If you say that you have not sinned – either hidden or defended your sin; OR worse yet claim that you are perfect, not only are you a liar, but you make Jesus a liar too.

So, how can you in faith confess your sin, believe that He has forgiven and cleansed you from sin; yet in faith we cannot claim to be free from sin? Here you must realize that out of the sinful nature come sinful attitudes, words, and actions. It is God’s desire that you be "holy even as He is holy." If you should ever claim that achievement, your pride would reach to high heaven! And in your pride you would forget that Jesus died for you, and that only in him can you be cleansed.

Yet, there is another verse:

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; ..." (Hebrews 12:2).

Not only does Jesus begin the work of grace, He will finish it. It is His business. Believe it or not, your achievement is none of your business. You just trust Him implicitly. You can have assurance that He will take you through to the kingdom; and you will understand that you must put self aside and follow him.