|Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018||
Many in the world believe that one is saved by faith alone, without any act of obedience. Most preachers teach that all one has to do to be saved by the blood of Christ is to accept Jesus as one’s personal Savior. It is said that “the doctrine of faith and faith alone is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” However, the Bible teaches, Jesus Christ is the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. To obey means, “to do what one is told or expected to do.” Speaking about Christ, the Bible says, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
Notice, He was a Son, the only begotten of the Father (John 1:18). One would have thought this might have exempted Him from obedience, but it did not. By His suffering, He was made perfect, and He became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. The salvation Christ accomplished for humanity by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8), is actually bestowed on none but on those who obey Christ, and not on those who merely believe in Christ and accept Him as their personal Savior (James 2:24). It is not sufficient that one has some doctrinal knowledge of Christ, or that one makes a profession of faith in Him, but to be saved, one must hear what He says and obey Him. Hasn’t Christ said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16)?
Did Christ say, “He who believes in Me and accepts Me as personal savior will be saved”? No, He didn’t say that. Neither Christ nor His apostles taught such a thing anywhere in the Bible. Those who teach, believe and accept the doctrine of salvation by faith only will find themselves on the day of Judgment in the company of those to whom Christ will say, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).
What is lawlessness? Disobeying the law of Christ is lawlessness. Christ has a law. His New Testament is His law that He gave through His apostles (John 14:25-26; 16:12-13; Matthew 18:18). “But why do you call Me Lord, Lord,” asked Jesus, “and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). To whom should one listen, to a preacher or to Christ, the Savior? Salvation, remission or forgiveness of sin, comes after, and not before, one is baptized into Christ, according to Acts 2:38 and Romans 6:3-4.
There are those who use Abraham as an example and believe that the apostle Paul in Romans 4:1-3 taught that justification is by faith alone, without works of any kind. Yet, James penned, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac, his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:21-23).
James was not contradicting Paul. In Romans 4, the apostle was simply stating the fact, quoting from Genesis 15:6, which says, Abraham “believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” James showed when Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness. It was when he offered Isaac his son on the altar. It is vitally important to observe that though Abraham was acknowledged as a believer and his faith was reckoned for righteousness, it was not until he had obeyed God that his faith was consummated or made perfect in the act of his obedience. God tested Abraham respecting the command involving his only son Isaac, whom God had asked him to offer his son as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:1-13). When Abraham obeyed God’s command, we read, God said to him: “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12).
The inference is, if God had already justified Abraham on the basis of his faith or “faith only,” as some teach, then there could have been no reason whatsoever for God testing his faith. The fact is, Abraham was not justified till he passed the test. Abraham not only believed God, but he also obeyed God’s command to be justified. This shows that it is absolutely wrong to suppose that any person could be saved merely upon alleged faith or trust only without meeting any test whatsoever.
The test is, as Christ said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Also, why should it be considered a strange thing that Abraham’s faith should have been “made perfect" by his works of obedience to God’s command, when the Bible clearly declares that even the Son of God Himself was “made perfect through obedience” (Hebrews 5:8-9; Philippians 2:8-9). God by His grace allowed Him to taste death on the cross for everyone (Hebrews 2:9), which our Lord gladly did (Matthew 26:39; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He is the propitiation for sins for the whole world (1 John 2:2; 4:10). Jesus Christ is the source of salvation to all, but this salvation is given only to those who obey Him.
Be Kind to One Another
The apostle Paul gave directives to “put off” the “old man,” that is one’s former way of life, and to “put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.” He continued to list certain sins that should not be descriptive of the life of a Christian (Ephesians 4:22-31). Paul concluded this section of his letter to the Ephesian brethren by giving them this positive exhortation: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
It is the word “kind” that I want to emphasize presently. It is an adjective that describes the heart and action of a devoted Christian. Paul stated that “love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). In 2 Peter 1:7, we are admonished in our Christian growth to add faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and “to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” In Galatians 5:22, we read that “kindness” is one part of the “fruit of the Spirit.” The apostle Paul, in Colossians 3:12, instructed Christians to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.”
Albert Barnes, in his Barnes Notes on the Bible, commented on the word “kind” as found in Ephesians 4:32.
There is no religion in a sour, misanthropic temper; none in rudeness, stiffness, and repulsiveness; none in violating the rules of good breeding. There is a hollow-hearted politeness, indeed, which the Christian is not to aim at or copy. His politeness is to be based on “kindness”; His courtesy is to be the result of love, good-will and a desire of the happiness of all others; and this will prompt to the kind of conduct that will render his conversation with others agreeable and profitable.
One of the most important reasons why we should be kind to one another is found in the word itself. Please remove the letter (d) from “kind,” and what do you have? You have “kin.” One definition of the word “kin” is, “a group of persons of common ancestry.” Jesus said, “But you, do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren” (Matthew 23:8). He said that we are not to elevate one brother above another; rather, we are all brothers and sisters on the same level. How, though, did we all become kinsfolk, spiritually speaking?
The answer is found in Galatians 3:26-29. “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Being kin to one another, we will also be “tenderhearted” and “forgiving” because we are brothers and sister in Jesus Christ. We are God’s family (Ephesians 3:14-15)!