Etikettarkiv | deeds

How do we KNOW that we are the children of God?

child of GodAccording to the Bible, we can actually ”know” when we are the children of God  

Believing, obeying and loving God, have lots to do with it.

1 John. 2: 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, IF we keep his commandments.He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in DEED and in truth.19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.—24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.—18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Mark. 12: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely  this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 

The word ”know” above, and in the verses below, comes from the Greek word ginóskó (Strong’s 1097), and it means to know, especially through personal experience. It’s for example used in Luke 1:34 when it comes to the virgin Mary and the issue of ”knowing” someone really close and intimately – which she said she had not done, resulting in her amazement that she would soon be getting a son. It can also mean to just be aware of something. Naturally Jesus had knowledge of sin (he knew the meaning of it), but he never engaged  in sin, and therefore he knew no sin.

2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus knew all men, because he knew what was in man’s heart. You can’t fool God.

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

It’s possible  to know God enough to realize his power and to know who he is, but in order to  really know God – as in having a close relationship with him – something more is needed. In order to be his children we also need to  glorify him, be thankful for what he has done, walk in his light, know him as he truly is, worship him, retain him in our knowledge, etc.

Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,—25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.—28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

There is a difference between knowing about someone, and knowing someone intimately. We have all been given the light, and we are all able to get know God. The world did not know God intimately, but if we love God and believe in him (and show it by our actions) then we are known by him. If we are not acknowledged by God, we are in big trouble.

John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

1 Cor. 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1 Cor 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 Cor. 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

John 16:3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.—6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.—21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

It’s something positive for us to call on God, to prophesy, to cast out devils and do miracles, but if we mix this with not doing the Father’s will (i. e. being disobedient), then we are not known by God. We are not among his children, because his children are those who ”doeth the will of my Father”.

Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23 And then will I profess unto them, I never KNEW you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

A person can’t be known by God unless he keeps his commandments, according to what we have learned, and yet it’s possible for such a known person to return to a spiritual place where he is in bondage (like the ceremonial laws).

Gal. 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

Jesus knows his sheep, and the sheep know him, so salvation is based on synergism. Jesus sheep can be identified through their hearing of his voice and through their following of him, which is something they do by free will.

John 10: 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.—27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:—38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

2 Tim. 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.—20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

”He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father”

Joh. 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.—20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

We can know the tree by its fruit, and it’s up to us how we choose to make our tree. The children of God are those who do good – show good fruit.

Matt. 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Luke 6:43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

Peter truly believed Jesus was the son of God. He was sure of it (he knew it).

John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

”If you CONTINUE in my word, then are ye my disciples.” ” If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.—34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.—39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.—42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.— 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.—55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 

We are all expected to know God’s ways.

Hebr 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

To know God is also to accept that Jesus is come in the flesh. If Jesus came in the flesh, he did not always in the flesh, and that is also what the Bible says. Jesus has always been together with his Father in the trinity from eternity past. Yet again, we can see that we love God if we show it by our actions.

1 John 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:—6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.—11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.—20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

And finally, here is 1 John. 2-3 again, with a broader context. alla6

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.— 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.—17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. —24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. —28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.—6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.—14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Another form of ”know” is the Greek word eidó (Strong’s 1492) with the meaning to know or remember:

Matt. 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Annonser

Make yourself a new heart, for why will ye die? (Ez. 18:31)

love3God can clean us up and give us a new heart, but in order for him to do this we must choose to repent, come to him and place him as No 1 in our lives. WE are actually asked to cleanse, purify and circumcise our own hearts (which we can if we cast away our sins). 

Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?

Amos 4:6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

Ezekiel 24:13 In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.

Deutoronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Matt. 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

To be regenerated is to be cleansed. We are not clean before we come to Jesus and repent for our sins, and we can’t get the Holy Spirit unless we are born again and have purged hearts. We must choose to come to Jesus to be born again and leave our old man behind. John the Baptist preached about repentance for the remission of sins, and Jesus picked up after him and did the same – by preaching about repentance and faith in him as the promised Messiah and son of God. Jesus work was to call sinners to repentance so that they could get life and he taught his disciples – and all of us – to continue preaching this gospel throughout the whole world. The path that you should walk is 1) come to Jesus and believe in him and his work on the cross 2) confess your sins and repent 3) you’re now cleansed, purged, regenerated and born again 4) you’re given the Holy Spirit as a Helper. A person can never be considered clean as long as his sins are not washed away, and the Bible doesn’t teach ”once cleansed, always cleansed”. We must endure to the end to be saved.

Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 And ye are witnesses of these things.49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Matt. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Thanks to Jesse Morell for the below concerning regeneration after faithheart3

Regeneration requires consent and cooperation. A man’s free will must be synergistically involved in his regeneration. God cannot change a man’s character without the cooperation of the man himself. That is why God said, “I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged” (Eze. 24:13). This is because unless a man is willing to have his moral character changed, it will and cannot be changed. It is impossible for Omnipotence to change a man’s moral character without the consent of his will because this would involve an intrinsic contradiction. Therefore, God and man both have an active role in regeneration. This is why the Bible says that God gives us a new heart (Eze. 11:19; 36:26), while also saying that men should make for themselves a new heart (Eze. 18:31). When a sinner’s will is changed from being disobedient to obedient, both God and the sinner have an active role in bringing about that change. God’s role is His gracious influence upon our will. Man’s role is the yielding of and obedience of his will.

Jesus said, “Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:26). For Jesus to tell men to clean themselves on the inside (change their intention), takes for granted that it is their choice and that they can do this. Jesus was actually filled “with anger, being grieved, for the hardness of their hearts” (Mk. 3:5). This indicates that the state of man’s heart is man’s own fault, that the state of his heart is something which he causes and which he has control over.

The Bible even commands men to make unto themselves a new heart. God said, “make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die…” (Ezekiel 18:31). “Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved” (Jeremiah 4:14). “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).

What does it mean to change your heart? To change your heart is to change your intention. It is to change the motives for all your actions. It means that you are no longer living for yourself or have a selfish motive but are now living for God and the well-being of His universe, thus having benevolent motives.

Men are even commanded to circumcise their own hearts (Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4). Since they are commanded to do so, this means that it is their own responsibility and choice. To circumcise your heart means to repent or put off your sins (Col. 2:11). Therefore, to circumcise your heart means to repent of your sins but to have an uncircumcised heart is to have an impenitent heart.

When Stephen was open air preaching, he said to the crowd “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). Stephen was rebuking them for disobeying a specific commandment, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked” (Deut. 10:16).

Why would Stephen rebuke them for being uncircumcised in their heart unless they were capable of circumcising their hearts? Why rebuke them for breaking a commandment unless they were capable of obeying the commandment? Why rebuke them for having uncircumcised hearts unless having such hearts was their own free choice? Why would he rebuke them for resisting the Holy Spirit unless they were capable of yielding to the Holy Spirit? Unless they were capable of doing these things, why rebuke them for not doing these things?

Stephen seemed to take for granted or assume the ability of his audience. He blamed them for their impenitent which must mean that their impenitent was their own free choice. You cannot rebuke a man for something which is not his choice. A man cannot be blamed for that which is beyond his control or for what he cannot help.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)

woe

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

Something in this world that is considered evil must surely be SIN, and sins are committed by individuals. SINS are related to darkness, and darkness is the opposite of light. If we try to teach others that sinners are still considered righteous in the eyes of God – as long as they are born again believers – because he can only see the blood of Jesus and not their sins, then the woe above is actually addressed to us. Then we are in fact saying that sin is not evil enough to make us lose our salvation over it and that we are still labeled righteous (because ”Jesus paid for our sins and we are already forgiven” or ”once saved always saved” – or some other unbiblical terms).

The best example of someone calling evil ”good” is when Satan managed to fool Eve into believing that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be a GOOD and wise thing to do even though GOD had declared that it was BAD to eat of this tree and against his commandment.  Satan suggested that Eve could be as GOD if she ate of this tree and Eve decided to give it a try thanks to the assurance from Satan that she would NOT DIE if she DISOBEYED GOD! So what God declared wrong – and therefore EVIL – Satan declared GOOD. God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating of this tree and this means that acting to the contrary of his command would be a SIN. God assured Adam and Eve that they would DIE if they ate from it and Satan said the exact opposite. Isn’t it rather common today that pastors and evangelists repeat Satan’s lie and teach others that sins will NOT separate us from God (as long as we are christians)? Satan’s lie can be presented in many forms so be on your guard!

Genesis 2:17 [God says] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.

Genesis 3:4 [Satan says] —YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

It was of course not the fruit in itself that was bad. The reason why eating of this fruit was bad was because God forbade it, likely because this rule would actually force Adam and Eve to make a stance on whether or not trust and obey God each time they passed this tree – just like a simple test which wasn’t difficult to obey at all. This means that the sin they ended up being guilty of was that they DISOBEYED GOD and by doing so REBELLED against him. So it was DISOBEDIENCE that was the SIN, and God said that SIN leads to DEATH. In Adam and Eve’s case it was both a physical death (no longer access to the tree of life) as well as a spiritual death, and we will all die spiritually if we sin. Teaching the opposite (for instance trying to exempt christians from this rule) is to repeat Satan’s lie.

Perhaps you have been in a church where the pastor in a similar way assures you that you shall NOT DIE if you SIN because you are eternally and unconditionally secure in your salvation once you’ve become a child of God (+ if you sin ”habitually” it shows that you’re ”not saved to begin with”). Have you ever heard someone declaring to you that ”sinning will only make a true christian lose his RELATIONSHIP with God but will never risk his soul” and ”God will not see a true christian’s sins but only the blood of Jesus”? Then this pastor is deceived and at risk for being a person who calls evil ”good”. Malachi 2:17 tells us that we can dissatisfy our Lord by suggesting that a person who sins is still GOOD in the sight of God and that God still delights in him and that he will not judge him for his sins. The opposite is true:

Malachi 2:17 Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

It’s actually rather common for pastors to declare that a christian is fine and off the hook (from the risk of being judged and punished) as long as he is a born again christian. There is of course FORGIVENESS to get for a person with a truly repentant heart – because our Lord is mighty and always ready to take us back into his arms – but it’s dangerous for the soul to be told that sins will not separate us from God. Instead we should encourage each other to not give into temptations, and to not stray from the road to Heaven by sinning. Temptations can be hard enough as they are and we don’t need anyone patting us on our backs, assuring us that everything is well with our soul despite our sins:

James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way SHALL SAVE A SOUL FROM DEATH, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

I’m aware of that pastors could have been fooled about this (major) issue just like Eve was, and just because a pastor is wrong about this he could still be right in many other areas and even lead many people to God (praise God for that), BUT the fact remains that this pastor needs to be taught about the true ways of God so that he can repent from his false teachings and be an even more useful tool to spread the gospel. Many of us (like myself) have incorrectly believed all kinds of false teachings and even taught them to others, but we have also chosen to stay corrected by scripture and amended our ways. Unfortunately, there are pastors who are not willing to listen and learn but they prefer to close their ears and continue to deceive people into believing that we can have our sins and our salvation too, because this is what people out there would like to hear.

Example of a person who teaches that evil is good

If someone claims that what Satan did to Eve (fooling her to sin by assuring her that she would not die) was actually something GOOD and even predestined by God, then this person is definitely a person who calls evil ”good”. To claim that an activity that God calls wrong and evil for something ”good” is simply dangerous. John Calvin taught that Adam and Eve were predestined BY GOD to fall and that means that in order to be consistent with his own teaching he must call EVIL for ”GOOD” since God’s own actions couldn’t be evil. I’m sorry if you dislike that I bring him up, but we are told to expose false teachers now when souls are at stake.

“God NOT ONLY foresaw the FALL of the first man, and in him the RUIN of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure ARRANGED it” .(John Calvin (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, XXIII)

“The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly DECREED” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

“We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also THE COUNSELS AND WILLS OF MEN are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which HE has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as HE COMMANDS, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

“But since he foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed that they take place, they vainly raise a quarrel over foreknowledge, then it is clear that all things take place rather by his determination and bidding.“ (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

King David says:

Psalm 38:18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.20 They also that render evil for GOOD are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. 

Who will be greatest in heaven?

Those who say that it’s impossible to obey the ten commandments and that we have no option but to sin once in a while until we die? Those who say that a person can only be righteous if God declares him righteous in the midst of his unrighteousness? Those who claim that too much obedience to Jesus is legalism, pharisaism and salvation by deeds and something to flee from? Those who teach that we are saved by faith ALONE? Those who teach that we should not expose false doctrines but compromise with the scriptures in order to not cause division? No, those who DO (obey) the commandments and who also teach others to do the same will be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Those who do the opposite – teach men that it’s hard or impossible to obey God’s commandments – will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Note that Jesus doesn’t teach here that sinners will at least GET IN to God’s kingdom despite their sins. He continues to say that our righteousness must EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and the pharisees in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. So why does it appear as though we can enter the kingdom of heaven in v. 19 (albeit being called LEAST) despite acting in the wrong way? There might be evangelists who are deceived and who teach the wrong doctrines once in a while without being aware of it, and they might NOT live as they teach. A deceived pastor might for instance teach that we are born with a sinful nature and ”once saved always saved” without being a filthy sinner himself, and he might do a lot of good deeds for the kingdom of God through evangelism and hard work. The question is how interested he will be to change his doctrines once being shown from the Bible that he is in error? Will he be open for correction or will he close his ears and continue to spread errors? God can see our hearts and our intentions. Just pray that God will show you the truth and that you live your life so that you won’t risk to be called LEAST in the kingdom of God, or even worse; that you won’t enter the kingdom at all due to sin.

I can add that it’s just as bad (or worse) to know the right doctrines and still be very lazy when it comes to sharing the gospel to others and rather sit at home and complain about the failures of other christians.

Evil people and unbelievers can do GOOD and BELIEVE

Also atheists can do much good, and many of them feel terrible when they realize they have behaved inappropriately and hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe we can even relate to ourselves and to the time before we were born again. We didn’t live in constant sins, and we did lots of good to others whether we knew them or not. Each time we refrained from hurting others, or from lying and stealing, we surely did something good. We all have a conscience, and it’s our own decision whether to listen to our conscience or not. There are even atheists who have given up their lives and died for others. Their good deeds and their decisions to live morally upright of course won’t save them in the end, but there should be no arguments about whether non believers and/or bad people can do good because they CAN. Each time they decide to not sin, it’s a GOOD thing before the Lord, and each time they decide to give comforting words to a stranger in distress, it’s GOOD. It’s just that it’s not good enough for salvation because in order to be saved they need to repent and believe in Jesus and his offer or else they are not cleansed. Here are a few examples of that unbelievers can seek and find the Lord, and that even EVIL people can make good moral decisions.

Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being EVIL, know how to give GOOD gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 

Acts 28:And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.And the BARBAROUS PEOPLE shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

1 Cor. 14:24 But if an UNBELIEVER or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “GOD IS REALLY AMONG YOU!”

James 4:17 Therefore to him that KNOWETH to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Rom. 2:14For when THE GENTILES, which have not the law, DO BY NATURE the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Whichshew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another)

Luke 15:17 (The prodigal son) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive AGAIN; and was lost, and is found.

Job 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? Job 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Acts. 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A DEVOUT man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway—And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a  DEVOUT soldier of them that waited on him continually;—19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.—28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or UNCLEAN.—45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the GENTILES also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

God created man in such a way that they should SEEK Him and FIND Him. That was the idea and it shows how merciful our Lord is to all of us. We all have a chance to be saved and God is not far away from any of us. When we choose to come to Him we must have the right approach and we must BELIEVE that He is, and that He will listen and reward those who diligently seek Him.  If we renew our minds and change our hearts, then we will learn what the perfect will of God is:

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.

Jeremiah 4:14 Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved

Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

God expects us to repent from our sins and change our own hearts for His sake and in order to get LIFE. We can read that He has NO PLEASURE in the death of him that dies, and He sincerely wants us all to turn to Him to get eternal life. His desire is that we eventually enter his Kingdom but He will not force us. If we won’t let go of our sins, and if we refuse to change our hearts, then we are separated from God and unable to enter. If also unrepentant sinners could enter Heaven, it’s wouldn’t really be a Heaven. It’s important to realize that we are not saved because Jesus was righteous FOR us or INSTEAD of us. It’s true that we as christians are cleansed in His righteous blood, but we must continue to keep ourselves clean! If we show good fruit we can actually talk about OUR righteousness and not JESUS righteousness. Jesus will not produce good fruit for us. That’s our job. Nothing we propose to do can ever merit salvation, but on judgment day it will still be those who DO GOOD who will be saved if the foundation that we build on is JESUS. We are not saved unconditionally:

Ezekiel 18:—Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

2 Cor. 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of YOUR righteousness 

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35But in every nation he that feareth him, and WORKETH RIGHTEOUSNESS, is accepted with him.

Rom. 2:6Who will render to every man according to HIS DEEDS: 7To them who by patient continuance in WELL DOING seek for glory and honour and immortality, ETERNAL LIFE

There are three factors provided for us that enables us to realize there is a Creator who has opinions about the way we lead our lives – even if we would be born in the jungle:

1) Creation itself proves that there is a Creator and we can SEE it with our own eyes (and/or hear and feel if we are born blind)

Rom. 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

2) God has placed a knowledge in our hearts so that we can UNDERSTAND that the beauty of the world is from our Creator

Eccl. 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

(Eccl. 3:11 The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in their heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end. Young’s Literal)

3) We have been given a conscience

Rom. 2:14For when THE GENTILES, which have not the law, DO BY NATURE the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Whichshew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another)

This means there are no excuses for us to reject God

There is only ONE Book of Life, and names can be REMOVED from it

bible 4There is ONE book of life, and that is the book of the lamb

Book” is a translation from the Greek word βίβλῳ (bibliō, Strong’s 976).

Only those who overcome the sins of this world will be clothed in white raiment, and they will not risk getting their names blotted out of  the book of life. It’s in the end of the ages where the Christians will get their new white clothes, and at that point they will no longer risk to get their names removed from the book of life – because they enter the kingdom of God and remain there for ever.

Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Some people suggest that there are two books of life, and that the first book is a book into which everyone’s name is supposedly entered by default – the universal book of life. They suggest that the second book – ”The Lamb’s Book of Life”- is the book where only the true believers’ names are written and whose names will never be blotted out. The two-book proponents seem to reason that if a particular scripture passage speaks of names being added to the Book of Life, then this must be the Lamb’s Book of Life, but if a passage speaks of names being removed from the Book of Life, then surely it must be referring to the Universal Book of Life. Applying such selective reasoning is dishonest.

If people end up in the Universal Book of Life by default at birth (or at conception?), at which point will they be removed from this Universal Book of Life if they refuse to believe in Jesus Christ throughout their entire lives? Will they be removed as soon as they are adults (and remain unbelievers), and when exactly does this happen? And what if another person starts to believe in Jesus Christ when he is 50 years old. Does this mean he was in the Universal Book of Life the entire time before he turned 50, when he was also added in the Lamb’s Book of life? I suppose the two-book opponents couldn’t believe that a person can be removed from the Universal Book of Life at 15 (if he at this point refuses to accept Jesus as Savior) and then added again when he becomes a christian at age 50?

There is no Biblical evidence for two Books of life

The Bible does talk about books in plural that we will be judged by, but Daniel is referring to the books which record the deeds of every human being who has ever lived. Rev. 20:12 states that the dead are judged on the basis of the things written in the books which include their deeds, so these are not books of names but books of DEEDS, and these books of deeds are distinct from another book (singular) which in the same passage is called the Book of Life. If there are indeed two Books of Life, then it might have been helpful to know which one was being opened here – the book of the true believers, or the universal book of life? In reality, no such distinction needs to be made because there is only one book of life.  

Daniel 7:10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: AND ANOTHER BOOK was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the BOOK OF LIFE was cast into the lake of fire. 

Also Moses seems to believe there is only one book of life, because he refers to it as ”thy book which thou hast written”, and God lets Moses know that each person is responsible for his own entry in that book. God refuses to accept Moses’ ”blotting out” as a substitutionary offering for the sin of the people.

Exodus 32:30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin — and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book

If people are automatically included in the universal book of life, it wouldn’t be a big deal if also Clement and Paul’s other coworkers had their names there too along with every one else – so why even mention it?

Philippians 4:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. 

Below is the only place, apart from Rev. 21:27, where the term The Book of Life of the Lamb” appears. It’s rather natural that the book of life belongs to the lamb, so the extra detail ”of the lamb” (Jesus Christ) must not be taken as a sign of that it’s a completely different book than the already mentioned ”the book of life”.  Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and he will be judging all people according to their deeds. Compare the below passage with Rev. 17:8.

Revelation 13:And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Maybe Rev. 17:8 is the passage that is most commonly used as an attempt to support  a universal book of life, since we can read ”the book of life from the foundation of the world”, but it’s the BOOK that is from the foundation of the world and not necessarily the names in it (before man even started to spread on earth). Word for word from the Greek it’s ”the names in the book of life from foundation of world”. Furthermore, it seems like ”the book of life of the lamb” in Rev. 13:8 is the same book as the one below in Rev. 17:8, even if the term there is only ”the book of life”, because both places talk about people who are not included in this book, and who are amazed (wonder, marvel) over this beast and even worship it. We can read about  ”the foundation of the world” in both accounts, and even a clarification in Rev. 13:8, that it’s the lamb that is slaughtered from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 17:The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

If you don’t have your name in the book of life, you will ultimately be thrown in the lake of fire and that is true both when it comes to the book of life as well as the lamb’s book of life. Again, we are likely talking about the same book.

Revelation 20:1515 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.  

If a person could never lose his salvation, then he could absolutely afford to both add and delete things from the Book of Life and still get away with it, but clearly that would be a false assurance. A person can be disallowed from getting his promised PART of the Book of Life and OUT OF THE HOLY CITY, despite that he had an opportunity to receive such blessings to start with.

Revelation 22:18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 

Why would God need two books with names, and why would a universal book of life be referred to as the book of life and confuse honest Bible readers? It doesn’t make sense for God to automatically include people in a universal book of life despite knowing that he would he removing some of these names at a later occasion. It makes a lot more sense to have an opportunity to be included in the book of life (through repentance, faith and obedience) and also to risk deletion if we choose to live in sin.

Prophets or blood did not exist from the foundation of the world, even though we can read about them below in relation to their blood shed from the foundation of the world. Most people have no problem accepting this to be true without maintaining that prophets have been around since the very day of creation:

Luke 11:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, may be required of this generation

What about Psalm 69:28?

Ps. 69:28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. 

This verse cannot be compared with the verses of the book of life in Revelations, partly because it is a translation from Hebrew, and partly because we have to take into account that the book of Psalms often contains truths expressed in poetry, songs, parables, hyperboles etc. Still, this psalm confirms the picture of losing previous rights. In psalm 69 we can see David urgently praying for his safety to God, with many ”Let them …” and ”Let me …”, and he is speaking about his present situation and the distant future. David is concerned about his enemies who are working against everything that is good. He might have the picture of the civil lists of registers of the Jews in mind, and his feeling that his unrighteous enemies should not have the same rights as the righteous (Ez. 13:9, Jer. 22:30). At one point Jewish individuals and families were written in, but they could also be removed which normally occurred when they died. This system was evidently not about eternal souls but concerned the rights among the Jews living on earth. Do read more about the the house of Israel in the Bible.

The tree of life

We can also read about the ”tree of life” of course, and that’s the tree that we found in Eden and which we will also find in God’s new Jerusalem.

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.—14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

James 2 says that we are justified by WORKS and not by faith alone

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:24)

In order to avoid the implications of what this verse is saying – that we are not justified by faith alone – people suggest that we are justified by our works before PEOPLE, whereas we are justified by our faith (alone) before GOD. But does understanding hold up to scrutiny? Let’s see what James 2 is saying about Abraham:

James 2:21Was not Abraham our father justified by WORKS, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is justified, and NOT by faith only25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD ALSO.

Here is the incident where Abraham offered up his son Isaac:

Genesis 22:And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.And Abraham said unto his young men, ABIDE YE HERE WITH THE ASS; and I AND THE LAD WILL GO YONDER and worship, and come again to you.And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.—11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy“, he said. “Do not do anything to him. NOW I KNOW that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”—18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; BECAUSE thou hast obeyed my voice.19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

If James 2:21-24 is supposed to show that christians are justified by works before people, then James couldn’t have chosen a worse example since there were NO people around to see Abraham nearly sacrificing his son which James described as ”Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” Abraham was alone when he offered up his son, and not even his servants were around to see it (which is also confirmed by the secular history as per The Book of Jasher). We can read that God says ”Now I know” when he beheld Abraham offering his son. Clearly Abraham’s famous work which labelled him ”righteous” (the most famous example) was before GOD and not before people. We can get this established also here:

Romans 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just BEFORE GOD, but the doers of the law shall be justified  

The passage earlier in James 2 says this:

James 2:14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 

The context is about WORKS (and not about the constitution of God or angels). James compares faith without works with the faith that demons have, and even though he confirms that demons also have faith they don’t have the right fruit to go with it. Faith without works is dead, and works without faith is dead as well. We can’t merit salvation with our works, but works is still a condition for salvation and therefore needed. If we don’t show good fruit, Jesus promises we will be cut off the vine so it’s something very essential for our salvation. We know that sinning doesn’t mean reduced rewards in heaven, but our SOULS are at stake:

Rom 6:21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in DEATH!

Romans 6:16: Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin UNTO DEATH, or obedience unto righteousness.

1 Pet 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your SOUL.

Romans 8: 6For to be carnally minded is DEATH; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. —13For if ye live after the flesh, YE SHALL DIE: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, YE SHALL LIVE. 

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son WILL NOT SEE LIFE, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Mark 9:47.And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into HELL

Matt. 7:21 Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven.

1 Peter 4:18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and sinner?

1 Cor. 9.“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived…”

Matt. 16:24 Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up theircross and follow me.

Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn’t promise us that we can serve two masters and still be saved

The oft mentioned verses in Eph. 2:8-9 doesn’t speak against the above. We are either saved by the law OR by grace through faith (one or the other), and we know it could not be the former since that option requires 100% obedience at all times which we have not achieved. Thankfully God offers the gift of salvation by faith, but this doesn’t mean that obeying the MORAL law (the ten commandments) is from now on just ”optional” to obey, albeit ”good” if we manage to obey them. No, we are supposed to have these laws in our hearts and we are not under the law IF we live by the spirit. The ten commandments are just as important to obey today as they have always been (ever since the time of Adam) since iniquities continue to separate us from God. We are free from ceremonial laws but certainly not from the ten commandments. Being cleansed in the blood of Jesus doesn’t mean that we are still saved if we continue to get filthy in the future. See also how Paul on one hand says we are NOT under the law, but on the other hand lists numerous examples of sins which separate us from God.

Gal.5:18 BUT IF YE BE LED OF THE SPIRIT, YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

Rom.3:30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, We ESTABLISH THE LAW.

Justified by the works of the law?

God cannot lie so he cannot justify the wicked (Ex. 23:7; Deut. 25:1; Prov. 17:15; Nah. 1:3). While the law condemns the guilty, God has the authority to forgive and pardon the sinner. Justification by grace is when those who are guilty and deserve punishment are pardoned and forgiven. Justification by works of the law is merited and deserved, while justification by grace is unmerited and undeserved. Jesus used the word justification synonymous with forgiveness (Lk. 18:10-14). God will not set aside the penalty of a sinner who still plans on sinning. God says that it is an ”abomination” to ”justifieth the wicked”. (Prov. 17:15). God said ”I will not justify the wicked” (Ex. 23:7). God is ”angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11).  We  must give up our wickedness if we want to escape the anger of God and the punishment of hell.  ”Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7). Those who are described as being ”justified” in the Scriptures are also described as being ”sanctified” and ”washed” (1 Cor. 6:11). Those who will inherit the kingdom of God are ”them which are sanctified”. (Acts 20:32)  When a sinner repents he actually becomes a holy saint. Without this repentance or moral transformation, there is no forgiveness or eternal life.

Jesus righteousness is not imputed into us

Are we cleansed in the blood of Christ upon repentance (resulting in our purification), or do we cover up our filth with an injection of the righteous blood of Jesus? If we need to get Jesus righteous blood into our veins, then we are saved by WORKS – namely the works that Jesus did for us when he obeyed the law perfectly. Those who repent and believe are justified by God’s grace through the atonement. Our new clean status will last as long as we keep ourselves clean, because God will not pretend that we are righteous when we in reality mix holy living with unholy living.

We do not earn our salvation by anything we do or believe since we have sinned.Justification by works of the law is when you are pronounced innocent because your record is perfect in the sight of the law. Justification by grace is when you are pronounced forgiven even though you have been guilty of sin in your life. Christ died for us but He did not obey for us.  We are imputed righteous through Christ, but we do not receive the imputed righteousness of Christ. Biblical imputed righteousness is when you are forgiven and treated as if you had always been righteous even though you haven’t been.

Paul quoted Psalms 31:1-2 when he said.

”Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, blessed are they whoses iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:5-8).

To be imputed righteous is when your sins are forgiven and covered, and after that moment we need to continue living in obedient faith. There is no way that God would declare us righteous and forgiven while we continue to practice unrighteousness. Abraham OBEYED God and THEREFORE his faith was credited (imputed) to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS. God did not have to pretend that he was righteous because his heart was upright and obedient in faith. It was his FAITH that was imputed as righteousness (Rom. 4:5), and it doesn’t state that it was Christ’s righteousness that was being imputed.

The difference between the Sheep and the Goats in the parable, is what they DID and DIDN’T DO

Jesus says in John 5:29 that at the resurrection those who have done good will get LIFE and those who have done evil will get damnation. James, Paul, John and Peter say the same thing.

John. 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

James. 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

1 Pet 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the SOUL;

What we DO makes the difference whether we will be able to enter God’s kingdom or not (even if we of course must believe that Jesus is God who has come in the flesh and that he has died as a sin offering and cleansed us from our sins with his blood). The Bible is filled with commands that we must DO things to be saved (not lose salt, go through the narrow gate, endure to the end, carry our cross daily, etc) and this might be surprising for us in Scandinavia, because we have been influenced by Martin Luther to a great deal. He was a person who didn’t take much delight in the book of James (according to his own words) where he could read things such as:

James. 2:20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our fathered by faith alone” even though the Bible says we’re not saved by faith alone. 

We tend to believe that if we must DO anything at all to be saved, then it is ”works salvation” and the biggest theological error under the sun (and a sin). Naturally we can’t save ourselves, because we are all in need of cleansing in the blood of Jesus, and we can’t earn our salvation by anything we do or believe, but there are still conditions for our salvation and that is to believe, repent and obey God. This is something that we must DO. Matthew 25 contains three parables that all have the point that what we DO affect our final destination – heaven or hell. This might be referred to as heresy in the Church today, but the Bible disagrees. Read the parable between the sheep and the goats. Both the sheep and the goats believed in the one they communicated with – Jesus – and also demons accept that Jesus is the son of God and even confess this out loud! This won’t save them, which is James’ point. (Not that demons are angels and can’t be saved, because the subject in James 2 is ”Deeds”.) Faith without deeds is dead. 

The final judgment 

Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, andye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, andye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 

The difference between the sheep and the goats is therefore what they DO. The sheep end up on the right side, and they are the ones that have done something good (righteousness), and the goats end up on the left side, and they are the ones that have neglected to do something good. They have NOT shown compassion and mercy. Lack of fruit can hinder us from entering the kingdom of God. We can read this in John 15 where the branches are cut off and thrown in the fire due to lack of fruit. We are not  saved by merely believing in a ”package”. We could compare with the angels in the beginning of the creation. I don’t believe they had a problem to ”believe in God”, or to accept him as their Creator. Still, we can read that 1/3 of them fell when they followed Lucifer on his wicked ways. It was once again what they DID which affected the continuation of the story – in the future they will be thrown in the lake of fire which was prepared for them from the beginning of the world, due to their deeds.

The other parables in Matthew 25 are the well known parables of the ten virgins and the one about the talents. All the ten virgins ”believed” in the bride groom and waited for his arrival. What they DID and DIDN’T DO made all the difference for what happened next. They all had lamps, but half of the girls had chosen to not bring any extra oil even though this might be needed. We can see that it probably concerned spare oil since the foolish girls said the lamps are ”gone out”. This means the lamps had previously given light, but they did not endure to the end due to lack of oil. We are told by Jesus that we must endure to the end to be saved! The wise girls had chosen to bring some spare oil with them which was a good choice. Our choices make the difference! Also the parable with the Talents shows that our choices and our actions affect the outcome of things, and also here we can see that it concerns eternal life (with various rewards) or eternal damnation.

I know that I write a lot about repentance and righteousness in my blog, and that is because these topics are neither that common, nor popular, despite that they are very important subjects because they concern our SOULS. The devil’s only goal is to make us SIN so that we won’t be able to enter God’s kingdom. He tempts us and tries to provide us with excuses to sin. I believe the devil wants to reassure us that we can be saved by faith alone with no deeds, and that sin will not separate us from God. Wouldn’t it be horrible if he managed to deceive us into thinking ”What a relief that God loves me just the way I am, and that he views me as righteous despite that I live unrighteously at times, and that it’s enough to BELIEVE in him to be saved” IF this is not true? Just imagine if we on Judgment Day would have to say…”Oops!”

1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?