Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved - Part VI b

Last time we came to the conclusion that the Old Testament saints were saved when God said they were--at the moment of their belief in His promises. When they believed He imputed to them righteousness and forgave their sins. In other words,
“We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.”
This time we’ll look at how the New Testament agrees that we are saved in the same way, namely that we are justified by faith. Obviously the concept presupposes a number of things, but I think we’ve done a good enough job to this point establishing the fact that man is fallen, that God is angry at our sins, and that there is no amount of perfect record keeping we can do to win His favor back that we don't have to go over. It’s enough, I think, just to just point out that it’s too late for man to be involved in the process of salvation, since the only thing he’s bringing to the table is his need for forgiveness. As New Testament says:
“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident: for, ‘the just shall live by faith.’”
With the possibility of being saved or kept by works gone, the only remaining solution is to plead for charity. But God has promised to honor this, so if we do give up working and just believe, we will be saved. For it is written,
“But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
And because salvation works this way, because we're declared righteous by an official once-for-all pardon, we can be secure in our salvation. Once we are saved, we are saved. As it is written,
“Being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
It was the same for Abraham and David, and it's the same for us. They were saved by believing in what Christ was going to do, we have the richest, fullest expression, and know that we are saved by believing in what Christ has already done. The glorious word that captures this is justification.

JUSTIFICATION IS SALVATION

As it has already been shown, salvation is what happens when we are justified, when we are declared righteous. Justification does not mean we are actually sinless, but that we have been counted as sinless. I can do no better than to simply quote the Scriptures at this point to define what salvation is and how one gets there:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law… [for God] shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
With that being said, we’re ready to look at the Scriptures which prove our salvation is by declaration alone, accessed by faith alone, by the work of Christ alone, and because of that cannot be ruined or lost.

Romans 8:33

Who shall lay a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
It was this particular verse that brought my whole Pelagian worldview crashing to the ground all those years ago. I was sitting at a white table in the Family Life Center before service wrestling with it, trying to force it to mean what I wanted it to at the eleventh hour because I was due to teach on it shortly. I pressed it and twisted it, trying to get it to say somehow that justification means we are infused with righteousness, rather than declared righteous. But I couldn’t. It defied me, knocked me down, and humbled me. It only means one thing: God has an elect people, those whom He chose before the foundation to be holy and blameless in His sight, and when they believe in His Son God the Father declares them righteous. Who shall say “no” to God against them? Who has the power to tell Him it simply isn’t so? Once God has made a royal pronouncement that a man is pardoned, who shall call it into question? They are justified, once for all, their sins blotted out, who shall bring against them? It is impossible; therefore they are no less secure than those who have gone into heaven before them.

Galatians 2:6

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
What brings fear and doubt into the heart of a man? What motivates him to kick against the doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved? Is it not because he believes he has not done enough to placate a holy God and wants to yet do more? Does his fear not lie in the tension that he pretends he’s good enough to work his way back into God’s presence through deeds, and yet knows deep down that God is too holy for that? Is the solution for him to accept the help of Christ and go on trying to earn or merit eternal life as if nothing else had changed? Are we saved by grace and then go on to keep it through good works for ourselves? God forbid, for then we wouldn’t have been saved by grace.
The fact is, there is simply no law that can make us or keep us pure before God. There is no good deed or act that can compel God to declare us sinless. There is only the spilt blood of the savior made ready for us by faith, that if we but believe we shall be cleansed of our guilt and unrighteousness. And that’s the all of salvation. Christ before us, Christ behind, Christ above us, Christ beside. Christ our cleansing, and our pardon be. For it’s enough that He has died, and He has died for me.
Tell me where you shoe-horn your good works into that and I’ll show you where you’ve lost not only your security but your salvation. Leave Christ’s work alone and I’ll remind you that not only have you been justified already, but are even now a co-heir with Christ, and will be so for all eternity.

1 Corinthians 6:11

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
There were a lot of problems with the first century church in Corinth: there were factions, boasting, pride, sexual immorality, lawsuits, improper divorces, drunkenness at the Lords supper, improper gender roles, abusive of spiritual gifts, because the church was filled up with people who were idolaters, slanderers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, and swindlers, to name a few. But for all that Paul says in this verse that that’s what they were, not are. What happened? They were regenerated by the Spirit of God, called by the effectual call, washed clean and given a new heart. They were sanctified, given a new pattern of behavior; a new way of living, a new focus. But most precious of all they were justified. They passed out of condemnation when God forgave their sins once for all, reckoning them as righteous by the finished work of His Son when they believed. They begged for mercy from their sins which had swallowed them up, they looked to God’s ransom, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and found forgiveness there. God pronounced them “not only not guilty, but perfect in righteousness” and they passed out of condemnation forever. If the worst, most worldly behaved Christians were secure in the power of God, then it is no less true for us as well.

CONCLUSION

Does anything more need to be said? If salvation is by God issuing a pardon can mans works be involved? If the same God who spoke the universe into existence says “it is so” then how shall it be otherwise? Is this not what the Scripture says?
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!...Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him.”
What more can I add ? What more shall I say with pleadings and groaning to persuade you to take hold of that which is by rights yours? How else must I persuade you to lay down your empty notions of works and keeping your salvation and cast yourself wholly upon Christ?
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one! Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Next: Part VII– Our Confidence in Christ


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