Points to Ponder: History and Religion and Their Dual Impact on Community Relations

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Saved By Grace Through Faith : What About Obedience?

Popular theology has reduced the commandments of Christ and His Apostles to a practical nullity. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." Mark 7:13. Teaching Grace out of context apart from obedience  has totally obscured the principle of obedience as the basis of our acceptance with God in Christ, by its doctrine of "justification by faith alone," and that too, of the most momentary character in the hour of death. It is part of the modern restitution of primitive apostolic ways, to recognize distinctly, that while faith turns a sinner into a saint, obedience only will secure a saint's acceptance at the judgment seat of Christ; and that a disobedient saint will be rejected more decisively than even an unjustified sinner. The Bible says it this way:  When a righteous man disobeys he will not be saved just as the wicked man's wickedness will not cause him to fall if he repents. Ezekiel 33:12.

The rule or standard of obedience is to be found in the commandments of Christ. Christ speaks very plainly on this subject of obedience in relationship to being in His perfect Will.  Jesus  summed up the importance of obedience in this saying  - "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love."
Before we can keep his commandments, we must know them; and in order to know them to any purpose, we must remember them. This epitome is intended as a help to the memory. The commandments are picked out from the apostolic writings, and classified in a way convenient to remember, and printed in a form convenient for carrying about on the person daily, so that they may be often looked at, and imprinted on the mind. The references are supplied for the satisfaction of those who desire to be quite sure of their foundation. What excellent men and women are those who keep all these commandments! Where are they? Lord, increase their number.

In the most Holy name Jesus Christ Amen. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight Oh Lord my Strength and my Redeemer...

Ezekiel 33:12-19 is about the righteousness of the righteous and how they wrongly divide the word . Of mans' righteousness Isaiah likened to "filthy rags" Isaiah 64:4-9.

This people draw near with their words and honour me with their lips service, but they remove their heart far from me(Isa 29:13)

The Lord says, "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, take away from before my eyes the evil of your deeds. Cease to do evil, learn to do good" (Isa 1:16-17). The passage goes on to say that if the people do this willingly and obediently, they will be rewarded and blessed (Isa 1:18-20). But, the key here is that we must learn to do good.  We have to practice doing good.
Here’s another example: "Thus says the Lord, Preserve justice and do righteousness... How blessed is the man who does this..." (Isa 56:1-2).

So, here we are given the principle that we must "learn" in order "to do good". That principle is obedience. We must learn to be obedient. If being obedient was not a problem we would be through with sin. But, we all know that is not the case. This is exactly what Paul was saying back in Romans when he wrote this:

Romans 7:15-25 (New International Version)

15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
      So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. James says a double minded man is unstable in all he does James 1:8.

All of the Commandments are subordinate to Love. But, for us obedience is paramount. Why? Glad you asked: How can any of us have any hope of Loving like Jesus if we are disobedient? Through Grace right? Wrong. If we are living ouitside the will of God as unbelievers  then we enjoy God's Mercy. Some would argue "common grace" is extended to all. This is a Calvinist argument. Calvin taught that there were levels of Grace. There is common, special and saving grace. This is an example of the "traditions of men that has caused Gods' Word to be null and void". Grace is reserved for disobedient believers and believers struggling with overwhelming issues period. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says:   But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

My Grace is sufficient for you refers to Paul the believer, Paul who follows Jesus  by Faith, like us (modern believers). Paul received his understanding of Jesus through the Holy Spirit by Faith just as we do. We have to stop depending on Grace and focus our attention instead on being obedient to The Word of God. Grace is like a credit card. You are responsible how you use it...

As always: Seek ye first the Kingdom Of God and don't worry about the rest...