Monthly Archives: July 2015
To Whom Much is Given,
Much is Required
After a person is saved (and perhaps baptized with the Spirit), many things are then required of that person. He is expected to walk in the Light, as God gives the Light. He is expected to grow in Grace and Knowledge of the Lord. He is expected to follow the Lord Jesus Christ—according to the Word of God!
If that person has been involved in error, wrong teaching, or in a Church that doesn’t really believe in God or the way of God according to the Word—he is expected to come out of that Church, to straighten his ways, and to allow God to work within his heart and life. Very little is required of the person who doesn’t know God. But much is required of that person after he comes into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fundamentally, this is what we are talking about. This is wherein the difficulty lies. For example there are multiplied thousands of Catholics who have been (in my opinion) truly Born-Again. They love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts. And, yet, there are multiplied thousands of them (including Priests and Nuns) who elect to remain in the Catholic Church. Is this proper? Are they Scripturally correct in doing so? What will happen to these people if they persist in maintaining this position?
I suppose the question should be raised: Does it really matter? Does it matter whether a person is Protestant or Catholic? Does it matter whether an individual belongs to one particular Church or another? Do these things count?
It Does Matter
Of course, many will say it doesn’t matter. Many Preachers avoid this issue—and proclaim to the world that the only thing of importance is whether the Person has come to the Lord Jesus Christ. Admittedly, the fact of an individual being saved is of tremendous importance, but the question must be raised, “What happens to that individual after he or she becomes saved?”
This period of time following the Salvation experience is so important that the bulk of the New Testament was provided to show Christians how to live, how to walk in the Light, how to conduct themselves, and how to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
If a Christian, even though genuinely saved (Born-Again) and baptized with the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2:4, elects to stay in an environment of error, then that Christian’s Spiritual Growth will (at least) be stunted, and perhaps much worse will result. That individual could even be destroyed, spiritually speaking, if he insists on walking contrary to the Light that God has laid down.
A tremendous obligation enters the hearts of those persons who have been saved by the Blood of Jesus Christ. They are no longer their own, but are bought with a price (I Cor. 6:20). That price was the indescribable agony suffered by Jesus as He hung on the Cross. We are, therefore, “to deny ourselves and take up our Crosses and follow the Lord Jesus” (Mk. 8:34). We are commanded to follow the Lord wherever He may lead. It may be at the cost of losing friends, relatives, Church, Mother, Dad, job security, or even our very lives. Read Matthew 10:34–38. The Lord was very specific on this in all His teachings and in all four Gospels.
So What Should the
So, we come to the bottom line as we address ourselves to those Christians who are truly saved but attend a religious organization in error. What should they do? Is it proper (in God’s eyes) for them to stay in that particular Church after they have been Born-Again? Will they become “better Church members”? What should they do? Should they get out of the “Church”, renounce its practices and policies, and find another Church to join and associate themselves with? What are the answers to these questions?
I hope they will realize that I speak out with equal fervor against anything I consider to be non-scriptural in any Denomination. And, yes, as those who have followed me for any length of time will realize, this includes Pentecostal Churches as well.
You see, the problem lies, all too often, in our tendency to “root for the home team.” If we’re Democrats, the Democratic Party can do no wrong. If we’re union members, the union can do no wrong. If we belong to the Moose or the Elk or the Rotary—the Moose, the Elk, and the Rotary can do no wrong. And if we’re Catholic, the Catholic Church can do no wrong. The Truth, naturally, is that anyone can be wrong, and if we don’t diligently search for the Truth, we can be wrong.
David said: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom. 4:7).
The force of the Hebrew term “to cover” is dual. It implies Atonement and Justification. Atonement does not mean merely “at-one-ment” or “at-one-with,” but rather expiation of guilt by a blood-sacrifice which covers it.
The argument of Verses 9 through 12 in Romans, Chapter 4, is that Abraham was declared by God to be a righteous man while he was yet uncircumcised, i.e., outside of the Covenant within which the Jews afterward stood in their unique relation to God.
Had the promise of heirship of the world been based on the principal of law, i.e., of merit, that would have set Abraham aside, for the inheritance was given him by Promise and, therefore, on the principal of Faith. Faith does not fulfill a promise made to it, but believes it; and that Faith was reckoned to Abraham for Righteousness. This principal consequently opened wide the door of Grace to all men.
The Effect of Law
Paul said: “Because the Law works wrath: for where no Law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15).
The effect of law is always “condemnation,” and, in fact, it can be no other.
So, this means that all Believers who seek to function by “law,” whether the Law of Moses, or a law devised by themselves or someone else, can only come to one conclusion, and that is “condemnation.” And let the Reader understand the following:
If the Believer doesn’t understand the Cross, then the Believer doesn’t understand Grace, and neither does he properly understand Faith; consequently, such a Believer will then resort to law, because there is no other place for the Believer to be. It’s either “Law” or “Grace.”
This means that virtually the entirety of the modern Church is functioning under law, which means they are under constant condemnation, because most of the modern Church has little or no knowledge of the Cross whatsoever.
And yet, the Church thinks that it does know and understand the Cross. But several questions should be asked:
Are you, the Reader, living a victorious, overcoming Christian life? The question could probably be better asked, “Is there repeated sin of some nature in your life?”
Is the Fruit of the Spirit being developed in your life? Perhaps the question could be asked in this fashion, “Are you becoming more and more Christlike, in your life, personality, and demeanor?”
Please allow me to delicately say that far too many Christians lie to themselves. And it’s just as much a sin to lie to ourselves as it is to someone else, perhaps even worse. In other words, we need to look at the questions just asked and answer them honestly.
The Action of Grace
Whereas the effect of law is condemnation, the action of grace is “justification.”
The doctrine of justification by works generates religious pride—that of Justification by Faith produces contrition and humility. In the matter of Justification, Faith and works are opposite and irreconcilable—as opposed as Grace and Debt. Since God declares ungodly men righteous, works cannot in any sense furnish a ground for Justification, and hence the first step toward Salvation on the part of a sinner is to humble himself and accept the Divine pronouncement that he is “ungodly.”
Then the second and concluding step is to repose Faith in Him Who justifies the ungodly. Nothing gives more Glory to God than simply believing Him. Justification is not a change in character but a declaration by God as to the Believer’s standing before Him. It is objective. Sanctification affects character and is subjective.
As we have stated, the expiatory Sacrifice of Christ is the one and only and eternal ground on which God can act in declaring ungodly men righteous. Galatians 3:21, and many similar Divine declarations, reveal the hopelessness of standing before God in a righteousness which He will accept upon any other principal than that of Faith in a crucified Sin-Bearer.
A Perfect Sacrifice
Christ’s Perfect Obedience to the Law of God formed His Own Righteousness and gave virtue to His Sacrifice—for a Sacrifice for sin must have neither spot nor blemish. But it was not the spotlessness of the Lamb which made the Atonement, but its out-poured Blood, i.e., its surrendered Life, for the blood is the life. The judgment pronounced upon sin being death, that claim could only be vindicated and discharged by the suffering of death. Christ suffered that penalty and, in consequence, saves the Believer from it.
If Christ’s obedience during His Life was man’s obedience, then man stands as He stood and, consequently, there was no reason why He should die. In that case there was no penalty, for if man fulfilled in Him all Righteousness, there was no occasion for judgment.
But the Scripture declares that Christ died for sinners, so that it is His Death that provides a spotless Righteousness for sinners who believe in Him; and it was His Obedience in life which gave efficacy to His suffering in death.
Regrettably, the vast majority of mankind accepts the human doctrine of salvation by merit; a very small minority believes the Divine Doctrine of Salvation by Grace. As the Lord Jesus Himself said, few tread that narrow way. It is abhorrent to human pride.
J. Swaggart Ministry