Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Damming Effect of Decisional Regeneration (Part II)

Works Necessary for Salvation

Calm down! Take a chill pill. I don’t mean that works are a part of becoming saved or converted. We know that salvation is a free gift of God obtained through faith. Not a single soul can earn or merit salvation based on any work, righteous or not.

…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5a, ESV)

It is clear that no one is saved by any kind of a work, good, bad, or even indifferent. Salvation is a work of God in the soul of a man whom the Holy Spirit has been brought to the conviction of sin and sins. No one will ever enter heaven who worked for it.

There are at least two questions that must be addressed when we talk about salvation. These two questions are even inherent in our word “repent.” Repentance means that we turn from our sin and sins and we turn to God in faith and obedience. So, the first question that one must address in regards to salvation is, “What are we saved from?” In other words, why do we need salvation? This, I think, is the missing element from most offers of salvation. We must be convinced and convicted of the gravity of our sin against God. We must “feel the weight” of the judgment and damnation of our sin.

The second question that must be addressed is, “What are we being saved to?” In other words, what happens when we turn from our sin and sins and turn to God in faith?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

Of course the epistle from James, half-brother of Jesus and first pastor of the Jerusalem Bible Church was written to demonstrate that true salvation results in a lifestyle of works.

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18, ESV)

Paul exhorted the Philippian believers to, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13, ESV)

My Confession

I confess to you that these thoughts have not just come out of the blue. Neither do I desire to stir up a hornet’s nest nor create fear or uncertainty in anyone who reads this about their own personal salvation. Yet, I do not wish to see anyone deceived concerning the reason for their “assurance.” I have no desire to see anyone base their assurance of eternal salvation off of a date or a decision.

My morning devotions at this time are taken from the first epistle of the Apostle John. As I am meditating through this letter I am seeing example after example of the assurance of salvation. As a matter of fact this is one of the reasons John wrote this letter, “…these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (I John 5:13, KJV) John wrote about what constitutes the assurance of salvation and the confidence that a believer can have. Not once did he refer his readers to a date or decision. He listed works as the evidence of salvation. True salvation is evidenced by and results in various types of works.

To be continued…


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Good dayGregg most thought provoking, will have to read again to digest this properly.


H.E.R. Impressions said...

Thank you for this reminder.

Leslie Wolf said...

Again, an excellent post. I especially like your emphasis on the importance of understanding what we are saved from what we are saved to.

In my experience, churches that aren't strongly grounded in Scripture often have a weak understanding of why we need salvation in the first place. However, it is also my experience that (and I think that the historical record bears this out) churches that are strongly grounded in Scripture often struggle with the idea that the Spirit grows fruit in God's children. Many otherwise solid churches lean toward antinominianism, while many others risk slipping back into works righteousness.

The way I would put things is like this: one should expect sanctification to follow justification in normal cases, but one shouldn't expect always to see santification at work. Two points. First, some cases aren't normal. Take the thief on the cross. There might not have been much sanctification in his case, because he died right after coming to faith. Second, it can be difficult to see sanctification because it can be slow and partial - it doesn't always work on all of our sins in a visible way at all times. But the Holy Spirit is always at work in all the faithful. Thoughts?

Ma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregg said...

Yvonne - Good day to you. Hope you do digest it and it speaks to you! :)

H.E.R. Impressions - You are welcome.

Leslie - Hope you got my email, it contains more info than this. Without judging hearts or motives, I don't know that all of these are zealous Christians or not. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. There are false and/or temporary conversions. Some are known to us now by a lack of life and fruit and some (Matt 7:21) won't be known until eternity begins. False doctrine and false gospel will not produce true Christians. Let's lovingly and prayerfully preach the gospel to them.

Ma said...

I deleted my earlier comment Gregg. Leslie was asking for your thoughts, not mine. I apologize for being a buttinsky.

(embarrassed emoticon here)