Okay, Martin Luther. I see your last sentence there. Salvation God’s grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone. Let’s see if you really believe that. Here’s the scenario, your word problem, I want your answer. By God’s grace, Benedict hears the Gospel of 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 in a church parking lot. (You cannot hear it in a church nowadays, get real). He believes in Jesus for a moment. He is immediately spiritually saved, baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, he is forgiven of all his sins past, present and future, he is born again, he is declared not guilty of all his sins, he is a child of God, he is spiritually alive, he irrevocably destined for Heaven, he is guaranteed to go to Heaven, he has eternal life, and he is forever indwelled by God the Holy Spirit.
Exactly one second after this, before he can even voice his belief, his little daughter is run over by an SUV in the church parking lot (people wanted to get out of there in a hurry!) Benedict immediately renounces his faith, curses God, asks why God would let such a thing happen. He does zero good works. He becomes a mass murderer, he blasphemes God, he burns down churches, he becomes a homosexual child molester rapist, he renounces his faith again right before he dies, he never repents of his sins and evil actions, and then he starts himself on fire, jumping off a building, committing suicide.
Crazy, evil, sinful, undesirable and wicked scenario, I know. But he does it all. He ends up conscious in the afterlife. Where is he, Heaven or Hell, and why?
Answer: He is in Heaven, because he has eternal life.
People search for knowledge and insight, and/or spiritual experience, or peace and holiness and righteousness, or assurance and clarity, as the greatest spiritual attainments.
People might seek for these things in many ways, in many different places.
But the best thing anyone can possibly receive is UNION WITH GOD through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God is love.
Union with the God who is love is the greatest thing that can happen to anyone.
Union with God is joy unspeakable.
Union with God gives us the peace our souls crave.
The best possible thing for any human being is to live united with God our loving Father, in Christ our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, who indwells our spirit.
We receive EVERYTHING GOOD by God’s grace, through Jesus, by His death on the cross for all of our sins, through His burial, and through His resurrection.
We receive knowledge of the Gospel through the Scripture.
We receive salvation through believing in the Gospel of Jesus: 1st Corinthians 15:1-4.
We receive perfect sanctification through believing in Jesus’ Gospel.
Jesus Himself IS our sanctification.
We receive experience of God through his Holy Spirit in our the intuition of our conscience of our spirit, through Jesus’ Gospel, because we have been crucified with Christ, we have been buried, and we have been raised to eternal life through His resurrection.
Though we still sin, God daily forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. God also tells us to confess our sins to one another. The forgiveness of God in the Lord’s Prayer is in the sense of daily practical fellowship, but we are forgiven for all our sins forever, past, present and future, in the moment of faith in Christ.
We are the holy children of God, through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, indwelled by the Spirit of our Father.
When a person first comes to faith, he believes in Jesus, who died for all sins of everyone on the cross, was buried, and rose again on the third day.
And Paul the apostle tells us that Jesus, the Christ, did more than simply die for our sins.
Look deeper into what Jesus actually did for us.
The Bible tells us also that we were in Him in His death and resurrection, washing away all our sins past, present, and future, with His holy shed blood, and giving us a new life of eternal glory. (Galatians 2:20)
We receive this free gift forever and irrevocably in a moment of faith.
When we believe in Christ, in that moment, we repent or change our minds about unbelief about our sinfulness, and we change our minds in thinking that Jesus was just a man.
Repentance from sins and/or commitment and perseverance in holy living are not requirements ~for~ salvation. But they are the possible, but not required for salvation, natural outgrowth and working out of salvation. A holy life is God’s will for His children, made holy in Christ.
When we believe in Jesus, we are immediately spiritually baptized by the Holy Spirit into the death and resurrection of Christ. (This is not water baptism, but spiritual baptism.)
We are saved and preserved forever in Christ.
We are saved by sheer divine grace, there is no merit or worthiness in us.
The Bible says all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
Jesus is the infinite and eternal and unimaginable divine pinnacle of all spiritual desires, who dwells in glorious white light forever and ever.
Jesus is forever worshiped and glorified by the angels in Heaven and by the saints in Christ.
In Christ are ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Through Jesus we receive forgiveness of sins.
Through Jesus we receive union with God.
Through Jesus we are destined for Heaven.
Through Jesus we commune with God the Father, through His Holy Spirit in our spirits, forever loved and at peace.
EVERYTHING SPIRITUALLY GOOD is given to us in Jesus who is God incarnate in human flesh, who died for all of the sins of everyone on the cross, who was buried, and who rose again on the third day.
All to the glory of God my Savior. John 6:47.
“The Four Perversions of Grace” linked below. It summarizes the following errors and how they interrelate:
1. Basic salvation by works (common forms include water baptism or public confession of Christ as prerequisites for salvation)
2. Arminianism – denial of eternal security (common forms include serious sin or apostasy result in loss of salvation)
3. Bi-lateral contract salvation (common forms include repenting of sins or committing ones life to Christ in order to be saved)
4. The Perseverance of the Saints (the belief that genuine saving faith will always produce visible and lasting results in a person’s life. Therefore, serious or habitual sin would prove that true conversion never happened – that the person was never saved)
– Found on the Internet
John 6:47. Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me HAS everlasting life.” Everlasting life is permanent, irrevocable, and–everlasting and eternal. It cannot be lost. It cannot be given back. The gifts of God are irrevocable.
Some people will be surprised to be in Heaven.
If a person believes in Jesus as his Savior from sin, even if he never does a single good work, he has everlasting life and will go to Heaven the minute he dies.
Allow me to pound this point in as loudly and clearly as I can: If, ***after believing in Jesus***, if a person burns down churches, becomes a mass-murderer of Christians, becomes a blasphemer, renounces the Name of Jesus, and commits suicide, he will -most assuredly- go to Heaven the moment he dies.
Why? Because ***he has already been given everlasting life***. Because salvation is NOT BASED ON HUMAN GOOD WORKS, and ALL of his sins were paid for by the blood of Christ, shed for him on the cross.
Again, for the hard of hearing: SALVATION IS ALL OF GOD’S GRACE, THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS. ALL SINS, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, ARE FORGIVEN–PAID FOR BY THE SHED BLOOD OF JESUS ON THE CROSS.
NO HUMAN GOOD WORKS JUSTIFY THE BELIEVER. THE BELIEVER IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN JESUS ***ALONE*** (Jesus said so in John 6:47). IT IS THE GOOD WORKS OF -JESUS- THAT SAVE THE BELIEVER.
THE BELIEVER IS ETERNALLY INDWELLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AND DECLARED NOT GUILTY BY GOD ALMIGHTY.
NOTHING CAN CONTRAVENE THE ETERNAL JUDGMENT OF ALMIGHTY GOD.
Pharisees hate God’s grace because there is no pride and no self-justification in it–turning from sins (reforming your life) cannot save you.
And–your good works cannot save you.
Of course, the sins mentioned above are horrible, terrifying, and awful, 100% against the will of God, but that is why I chose them as examples–to make a point about salvation and the extreme offensiveness of God’s grace to sinful human self-justifying desires.
Also, there may be other things involved: God may severely chastise a believer like the one above. God may kill a believer like this. That person may have zero assurance of salvation (why is he acting like this if he believes?). And he will lose rewards in Heaven. But he WILL go to Heaven. He must. God gave to him irrevocable eternal life. He was declared not guilty.
JESUS HAS FORGIVEN ALL OF MY SINS, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE, THROUGH HIS HOLY BLOOD SHED ON THE ROMAN CROSS OF CRUCIFIXION.
ALL OF JESUS’ RIGHTEOUSNESS IS MINE. I AM AS RIGHTEOUS AS JESUS, BECAUSE HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS IS MINE, THROUGH FAITH IN HIM.
What I am about to say is not an exaggeration, nor is it a poetic flourish. This is something to live by daily and to absolutely never forget. This is the most important lesson I have ever learned (and am still learning).
The greatest pain and suffering, by far, that I have ever experienced, has come from unforgiveness, resentment, hatred, and unresolved anger.
Jesus was not kidding when He said that if you do not forgive others their sins against you that God will not forgive ~your~ sins, and that He will send the ~torturers~ against you. (The torturers are not men in black masks holding swords in dungeons, but depressing, despairing, painful, terrifying emotions and destructive effects in your life.)
This does not mean that a believer in Jesus is not saved if he does not forgive, but that he will receive the same kind of judgment and punishment and torment from God in his soul that he is giving to others in his mind.
Here are part of the verses of the story Jesus told, in Matthew 18:28-35:
But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
Forgiving others ~completely~ is the key that unlocks the door out of the worst mental and emotional prison there is. Not forgiving others their sins against you, ~no matter how painful and severe or evil or unjust those sins and abuses were~, is the most destructive force, no exaggeration, in anyone’s life, that I have ever seen. I can think of ten people I’ve known, right off the top of my head, whose lives seem ruled by, and ruined by: resentment, anger, hate and unforgiveness.
The anger that comes from not forgiving others (especially not forgiving those who have severely abused you ~or people like them~) can cause depression, inner chaos and painful thoughts and emotions, random angers, wanting to get rid of friends who do you wrong, suicidal thoughts, despair of life, general negativity, overeating, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, emotional pain and emptiness, relationship problems, domestic abuse, violence, stress!, health problems, spiritual problems; terrifying, excruciating emotional pain, and probably many other things.
One of the worst things about unforgiveness is that the pain and problems keep coming back if you forget this lesson and start hating and wanting revenge again (what you and I foolishly and sinfully call, “justice”). My opinion is that ~most~ people in therapists’ and psychiatrists’ offices are there because they do not have the emotional freedom that forgiveness could provide
~in a moment~.
(And forgiveness is a continually daily repeated thing, for new offenses, and for old offenses newly remembered.) It is easy to forget this lesson, and to start hating again. Lives are literally destroyed by unforgiveness.
Lives are healed and prospered by forgiveness.
Forgiveness is ~love~.
First Note: You do not have to stay around or in relationships with destructive or unloving people.
Second Note: Our hatred and vengeance is sinful, whereas God’s hatred and vengeance is pure and good, because it is ~righteous~ (holy) judgment against sin.
God dealt with all sin by having His Son tortured and killed on the cross, once for all, for the just payment and forgiveness of ~all~ sins of ~all~ people. Believe in Him and be forgiven of your sins, saved forever, given a new life, filled with His Spirit, and destined for Heaven–irrevocably and permanently.
Pray for and give gifts to those who hurt you, whom you forgive, as Jesus commands you to do. Give good for evil, not evil for evil. Overcome evil with good. We all need Jesus’ help and love and power and wisdom and comfort to forgive. Ask the Holy Spirit for help and for the ability to forgive. Forgiving must be 100% toward everyone, for everything they have ever done to you, and everything everyone continues to do to you, for you to really live
If I needed to sum up what Christians and churches should be, these three things would be it.
Of course, there is Bible study, prayer, evangelism, worship and fellowship, and many other things, but based on the Bible, if I could pick three things that are really needed, these would be those.
Today’s churches focus on Lordship Salvation False Gospel, attendance–large crowds, theologically deficient ego-rock for songs, Family focus (what about all the single people like me?), Money and Entertainment and Politics.
My guess is Jesus is ready to spit many of them out of His mouth after getting a taste of what they are doing. (see the book of Revelation)