Christianity 201

November 29, 2017

Credited With a Status We Didn’t Earn

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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This is our fifth visit with Juli Camarin at JCBlog.net. Click the title below to read at source or click this link and navigate your way back through the whole series (so far) on Romans. I loved the phrase in what follows: “Credited with a status of always having obeyed everything He said.”

Credited as Righteousness—Romans 4:4-5

“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5)

Anyone who works at job knows that the paycheck that comes at the end of the week isn’t a gift. It is the exchange given from the blood, sweat, and tears that come from being employed. We give our time, effort, skill, and passion to our employers, and in return they give us money.

This is a good system in the workforce, but a bad deal when it comes to an arrangement with God. As Paul notes later on in the letter, the only wage we’d earn on our own merit is death (Rom. 6:23).

However, the contrast to working and earning something from God is to trust in His grace. The beautiful result is that we, too, (Like Abraham in this example) will be credited with righteousness.

That’s right, credited with Jesus’ perfect and sinless record.

Here’s the good news—We don’t have to be good or have it all figured out! Trying to only excludes us. As Paul points out, God justifies the wicked and in reality, we all fall into that category.

It’s an either-or scenario. We can work at trying to be good, do the right things to earn something from God (death), or we come to Him just as we are (wicked) and be credited with a status of always having obeyed everything He said (justified).

It takes a lot of faith to trust God’s good intent toward us without offering anything in return. But the payoff is huge—We are credited with righteousness.

Where are you trying to earn God’s favor? Where could you take a step back and simply thank Him for it?


In an article based on the verse immediately prior — “What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3) — Juli noted:

When God started making promises to Abraham, he was a wanderer without a home, and without an heir. Then God visited him and started making outlandish declarations.

And what’s amazing is that these promises had absolutely no requirements on Abraham’s part. He was simply to sit back and enjoy these blessings…

…Today, where can you trust God? Is there a promise in scripture that God has made that you need to act on?


Our bonus music today is Abraham by Phil Keaggy from his second album, released in 1976.

 

July 9, 2017

Confusion: The Command to “Obey the Gospel”

by Russell Young

Paul wrote: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among those who have believed.” (2 Thess 1:9─10 NIV)

Only through obedience to the gospel will the believer find a place in the presence of the Lord. There is a divergence of understanding on what “obedience to the gospel” means however, because there are different understandings of the gospel.

The passages that speak of the need to obey the gospel –2 Thess 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17—refer to the issue of not keeping it. Peter infers that keeping the gospel implies righteousness and Paul implies that it is accomplished by those who believe.

“Gospel” means “good news.” The good news is that the opportunity for eternal life exists and that God has provided the way through Christ. Within the Jewish nation there had not been agreement on the hope of eternal life. The Sadducees had rejected such a hope and the Pharisees accepted that eternal life came through obedience to the Law. Christ revealed that the hope of eternal life was real and came through him. “Jesus answered, ’I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn14:6 NIV)

Those committed to Christ readily accept that he is the way and the truth, but there is disagreement concerning the nature of his “life” in relation to the gospel. It is commonly accepted that “the life” refers to the sinless life that Christ lived while on this earth. Such acceptance rests in the understanding that his sinless life or righteousness was imputed or applied to the believer; accordingly, obedience to the gospel means believing that Christ has died to pardon and cleanse the believer of his or her sins leaving them righteous. Belief does not mean to suggest merely a mental activity regardless of the intensity of belief.   James wrote: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (Jas 2:26 NIV) Faith or belief requires the application of that which a person believes; consequently, judgment will rest on the things done in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10) The deeds of the confessor prove whether his or her faith or belief is genuine or not.

The Lord did not say that believers were to obey his command (singular), but “to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:20 NIV) Paul taught that “they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:20 NIV) He told the Romans, “[Christ] condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3─4 NIV) And Paul admonished, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:7─8 NIV) (He did not teach that eternal life came at the cross.) Obedience to the gospel requires obedience to the Spirit who was given for the purpose of enabling righteous living.

Many quote the Lord, “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is to believe in the one he has sent,” (Jn 6:28─29 NIV) and limit “belief” to head knowledge. The Lord is the Spirit (2 Cor 3: 17, 18) and the righteous requirements of the law will be fulfilled as he lives his life through the obedient believer. The confessor must believe sufficiently to obey the one he or she called “Lord.”

The command to obey gospel in order to avoid being shut out from God’s presence refers not to accepting that the Lord suffered and died for the repentant, but to honoring his provision of the Holy Spirit and through obedience to the law of the Spirit (Rom 8:2) becoming a sacrifice acceptable to God. (Rom 15:16).



Russell Young is the Sunday contributor to Christianity 201 and author of Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay! You’re Okay!” Really? available in print and eBook through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.

9781512757514

To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link.

 

June 25, 2017

An Unholy Collection

by Russell Young

The Word speaks of a collection of people that is going to take place at “the end of the age.” The gathering will be done at the command of the Son and will be carried out by his angels. In explaining the parable of the weeds Jesus said, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom, everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” (Mt 13:41 NIV) The collection will be of those who have defied his commands and have either caused sin to take place or have practiced sin. Only the holy will remain.

The Lord’s words should cause those who teach and those who claim his name and who presume eternal salvation to fully consider his revelation. That is, the gathering will not be according to a pardon for sin, but will be based upon one’s doings following the pardon…their causing sin or doing evil. This proclamation is consistent with the many teachings concerning the need for obedience. (Mt 7:21, 28:20; Jn 14:23; 1 Jn 2: 3─4, 3:7,24, 5:3─4; Rev 22:14 KJV)

Many accept that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to them and that obedience is a non-issue. They accept that he washed away all sin that they will ever commit. It is correct that he took the believer’s sin leaving him or her righteous through the imputation of his righteousness; however, this act was to bring them back to God so that they might gain the Holy Spirit. (Gal 3:14; Eph 1:4; Col 1:21─22; Rom 5:10) The imputation of his righteousness did not provide pardon for sinful acts beyond the point when the point of redemption unless the believer repents and seeks forgiveness. (1 Jn 1:9) If it did, the Lord would have to continue to bear any sins committed and he would remain separated from his Father due to his unholy state just as he was at the time of his crucifixion.

Further, the Word reveals that those who will be gathered will have been placed in Christ’s kingdom by the “enemy.” That is, some will be counterfeit “believers,” who have claimed faith but who have chosen to live on their own terms and according to their own purposes. 2 Peter 17─21 references these people as does the writer of Hebrews. “And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were unable to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Heb 3:18─19 NIV) The purpose of the weeds, those who cause sin and those who do evil, is to disrupt and negatively impact those who had a legitimate place in his kingdom and were endeavouring to live in the light. Such an approach by the enemy of Christ indicates that he can and desires to destroy those who are in the kingdom. These enemies can be discerned both by their incitement to cause sin and by their practice of it.

Paul taught: “For as I have often told you before and say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” (Phil 3:18─19 NIV) They are seeking to satisfy the flesh rather than the Spirit. Even though Paul condemned the practices or doings of these people and identified their end as being destruction, many hold to the understanding that Christ expects nothing of them other that to believe-“belief” as determined by themselves; they dismiss commands to live righteously and to defeat the practice of sin because they accept that Christ has done that for them removing all concern or fear.

People will be weeded out because of their actions. Judgment will come for the things done in the body whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10) Those who have despised the life of Christ in them, rather than for them, will be among those who have been plucked from his righteous kingdom. Paul taught, “continue to work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12 NIV)

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Lk 13:34) Entering through the narrow door requires effort and those who do not put forth the necessary effort will be part of the angel’s “unholy collection.”

May 8, 2016

The Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness: The Beginning of Eternal Salvation

•••by Russell Young

Many rest their eternal hope in the understanding that Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to them; consequently, they accept that their personal righteousness is no longer a relevant issue. A common refrain is that ‘Christ has done it all,’ that the Lord’s imputed righteousness will bring about their eternal salvation. Such thinking is error and one day they may be left greatly disappointed.

“Imputed” is translated from the Greek logizomai. The KJV translates it as “imputed” 8 times of its 49 usages. Most often it is translated as counted, reckoned, or to think. That is, it refers to an attitude or behavior that God has identified as equating with satisfying the righteous requirements of the law. It is because of attitude that respects His Being with appropriate humility, that God is prepared to offer a second chance or a new opportunity. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17, NIV)

Romans 4:20-25 clarifies the attitude that God requires in order to have the righteousness of Christ imputed. Yet he [Abraham] did not waiver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being persuaded that God had power to do that which he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness. The Lord’s words ‘It was credited to him were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness-for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead for our sins and was raided to life for our justification.” (NIV)

The “power” that we must believe in in order to be credited with Christ’s righteousness is that God can raise us from the dead as He did His Son…that He has the power to accomplish His promises. Righteousness is credited to or imputed to the one who believes (is believing) that God has raised His Son from the dead for our justification; it is for a purpose…to give a second chance or a new opportunity.

Our “justification” comes through the Lord’s “resurrection,” not His death. Eternal justification was not accomplished through the Lord’s sacrifice, although cleansing of sins committed under the first covenant was accomplished, and with that one’s justification concerning them. (Hebrews 9:15) To the Galatians Paul wrote, But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. (Galatians 5:5, NIV) His resurrected life (Romans 5:10) “in” the believer must accomplish the believer’s eternal hope.Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NIV) James wrote, You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24, NIV) Faith, exercised through the practice of obedience (Hebrews 5:9), will bring about one’s eternal justification.

The imputation or credit of righteousness through acceptance that God has the power only provides the imputation of Christ’s righteousness for sins under the first covenant. Sins following that point must be repented of and confessed (1 John 1:9) if righteousness is to be maintained. Paul taught that the believer was not to offer his body in slavery to impurity any longer but was to offer it in slavery to righteousness “which leads to holiness,” (Romans 6:19, 22) giving him eternal life. If slavery to righteousness is needed for eternal life, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness must not have met the believer’s need.

The imputation of Christ’s righteousness only brings the believer back to God who empowers him with the Holy Spirit to live a godly life. (1 Peter 1:3) It is this “power” that can satisfy God’s righteous requirement concerning the law (Romans 8:4) and that will bring the dead back to life.

Many rest their hope in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to them, not realizing that they must live by the Spirit after the point of confession of sin. Eternal salvation is a two-part process. (Romans 5: 9-10) The sinner becomes a believer and is cleansed (justified) by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness following which he is given the Spirit to enable him to develop holiness in state through obedience as his faith is exercised.

March 27, 2016

The Crucifixion of Christ (Part One)

Part two will appear tomorrow on Easter Monday.

•••by Russell Young

The crucifixion of Christ is celebrated for the freedom that His life offering brings to mankind. Because of its significance, and the event is so well known, it truths have been over generalized and often misrepresented, or at least have not been well understood by many believers. The Lord’s crucifixion has left them a place to rest their confidence without true appreciation of that which He actually achieved.

The writer of Hebrews has presented the accomplishments of the cross. “For this reason [to cleanse our consciences (moral consciousness) from acts that lead to death] Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.1

The crucifixion of Christ provided a ransom. A ransom is a price to be paid to release one from bondage. In this case the ransom provided by the life of Christ released the believer from the consequences of the sins that he had committed while under the first, or Old, Covenant. The consequence of those sins is death. The Word of God speaks of the payment of his ransom as being His purchase of the believer resulting in his “redemption.”2

Paul wrote,Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…He redeemed us in order that the blessings given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.3 Accordingly, Christ redeemed the believer from the law for a very specific reason…that he might receive the promise of the Spirit. The purpose of the believer’s redemption is to release him from the bondage of the law and give him the Holy Spirit. One’s having been ransomed and redeemed does NOT equate to his eternal salvation but makes him a slave to Christ, his redeemer and his owner.

Paul has made it clear that more is required for eternal salvation than the “justification” provided through the sacrifice of Christ. To the Romans he stated, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more shall we be saved through his life.4 That is, more than justification through the blood of Christ is necessary in order to avoid the wrath of God. (Underlining added.)

The redemption provided by the blood of Christ paid the cost or penalty for the sins that existed at the time of one’s confession of faith. This payment was necessary in order to satisfy the terms of the Old Covenant so it could be brought to a conclusion. Christ brought the repentant confessor back to God. It made him friends with God. It renewed his relationship with God. As Paul has stated above, Christ did this so that we might receive the gift of Holy Spirit. However, one’s justification and redemption did not necessarily remove the wrath of God. It might still fall on the redeemed one; he needs to be saved from God’s wrath through the life of Christ (the Holy Spirit) living in him.

Consider the death of our Lord in another manner. What would have happened if Christ had died a natural death such is the outcome of all mortal beings. Had He died a natural death, He would have returned to the Father since He had not sinned and it is sin that separates man from the Father and His Kingdom.5 A natural death would not have advantaged mankind in any way. Because of His sinlessness, Jesus would have had victory over death but for Himself only.

If his natural death would have meant nothing even though He had lived a sinless life, mankind’s hope must rest in His crucifixion? How is this? The answer is found in 1 Peter: “He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.6 Christ took on our sins. He became burdened with the sins of each sinner and has left the redeemed one free of any sin…righteous and clean. This is known as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer…the great transaction, but he must still “live for righteousness.”

It is important to remember the words to the Hebrews. The Saviour’s ransom was for sin committed while under the first or Old Covenant. The writer has also stated that “he became the mediator of a new covenant. This mediation needs to be understood, however the process of His mediation was not fully accomplished by His death, His crucifixion.

Christ “bore our sins”, in fact, He bore the sins of the world. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”7 The crucifixion of Christ allowed Him to atone for all of the sins of the world.

Does this mean that all of the sins of the whole world have been atoned for, that sin no longer carries a consequence for anybody since it has been atoned for? No! His atonement is available but only becomes active through (by reason of) faith in his blood. The atoning sacrifice is only applied to those who have faith.8 Faith9 itself means persuasion and requires constancy of that persuasion for His atonement to apply. Faith is placed in something and in this case in the atoning sacrifice provided by the blood of Christ for sins that are past or are under the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant. The atoning sacrifice for sin applies as long as the constancy exists; that is why Christ said that “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.10 It cannot be said that the faith that existed at one’s confession of faith has cleansed him of all future sins because there is a need for constancy of faith and that constancy is only proven over time.


1 Hebrews 9:15, NIV

2 Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 5:9

3 Galatians 3:13…14, NIV

4 Romans 10: 9-10, NIV

5 Isaiah 59:2

6 1 Peter 2:24, NIV

7 1 John 2:2, NIV

8 Romans 3:25: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.” (NIV)

9 Faith is translated from the Greek pistis and means “persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly,constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:—assurance, belief,believe, faith, fidelity. “- Strong’s Greek Dictionary #3982

10 Matthew 10:22, NIV