Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It Is By Grace

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

All Christians readily affirm that the above statement is true. One is not saved on the basis of righteous deeds, but on the saving grace of God, by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ. Yet, many times, we nullify the Gospel by giving good works more credit than they deserve. Now, please don't misunderstand me; God created us for and is well-pleased by our good works (Eph 2:10). And I'm certainly not advocating an Antinomian (i.e. free grace allows for free sinning) position. The Bible soundly defeats this heresy in numerous places (e.g. Romans 6:1-2, 1 John 1:6). Yet, the beauty (not to mention power) of the Gospel is in the simplicity of faith, not the ego-boosting practice of dead works.

Have you ever intentionally or unintentionally classed yourself with an unbeliever (or even a believer) based on something that you either approve or disapprove of? For instance, have you ever said in your heart, "Thank God I'm not like them, I don't (smoke cigarettes/drink alcohol/have premarital sex/curse like a sailor)"? I know I have. Maybe not exactly in those words or even regarding those issues, but I most certainly have. I suppose it is human nature to want to seem better than other people. Nevertheless, there is no doubt in my mind that all humans are equal in at least one respect: we're all equally bent people (see Psalm 53:3).

Jesus spoke of this in a parable:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner.' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:10-14).

I think the following passage (1 Cor. 1:26-31) best summarizes God's purpose in salvation:

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

Friday, January 20, 2006


I don't have much time to wax philosophical, but I have enough to make at least a reasonably cogent post. Updates will be more frequent in the coming days/weeks/months due to the surplus of time that I now possess. :-D

In the past, I used to think that I could appreciate a dastardly fellow, though his deeds were utterly repugnant, as long as he were honest. You know, "He's quite a character, but at least he puts it all out there." To a certain extent, I can see the benefit of such behavior. At least people know whom to avoid. However, I contend that honesty (in this context) isn't really virtuous at all. To tear asunder the standard of good behavior is not worthy of laud. Rather, it is absolutely contemptible. Yet, this culture praises such cads and vilifies him who keeps his larceny under wraps. I am not arguing that hypocrisy is justifiable; a man who agrees that the law is righteous but hides his sin is, indeed, worthy of censure. Even so, the degree of his sin is lesser than him who is altogether unsensitized to his transgessions. Furthermore, he rails against all law and morality, challenging the very foundations of reasonable thought. As someone wise once said, "Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue."

This reasoning is supported by Scripture:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-20).

In the context of this passage, it is implied that these sort of people are as far removed from the truth as one can be. Paul wrote, "Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones" (Rom. 1:26).

To those who trust in Jesus Christ: I adjure you to stand firm by approving only of things which are truly worthy of praise. The value system of the world is bent; it does not submit itself to the law of God, for it is not even capable of doing so.

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Phil. 4:8).