Tag Archive | faith

Believe in Jesus for the very works’ sake – healing can cause faith, John 14:11

”Believe in me for the very work’s sake”, says Jesus

John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.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.

We are created to seek God and find him (Acts 17), but it also appears as though we can be even more influenced to do so by witnessing or experiencing the works of Jesus (or any Christian who uses this gift), such as healing and miracles. However, being healed will not automatically produce a change of mind and a decision to start following Jesus. The story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 shows this very clearly. For one of the lepers being healed also caused him to give glory to God and seek the advice of Jesus, but the others did not take this chance but went on with their current lives. In just about all other healing stories in the Bible the miracles caused a huge difference in people’s spiritual lives. Probably because those who seek to be healed by Jesus are also dispositioned to follow him because they believe he is divine, has all the power to heal the sick and will be the great Judge in the end of days.

Hebr. 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.

It works both ways; witnessing/experiencing the works of Jesus might produce faith (or greater faith), but great faith can also cause an openness to be healed – which in turn can produce even greater faith:

Acts 14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

Matt. 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Mark. 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Lazarus who was a friend and a believer in Jesus (so spiritually alive) went from physical death to physical life thanks to being healed by Jesus. Jesus encourages us to believe in order to see the glory of God, and here we can also see that many Jews started to believe in Jesus precisely because of the things they had seen him doing:

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?-–45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

Thomas had a hard time believing Jesus was Lord and God, but after a meeting with Jesus he started to believe. It was of course something positive that Thomas changed his mind and started to believe, but Jesus also explains there are people who believe without this type of miraculous meeting – and they are therefore very blessed. It is not the normal process that each individual must first have a physical encounter with Jesus before they can believe he is the IAM and our Savior. This is how it worked for Thomas, but the word of God makes it clear we can seek him and find him without these types of meetings:

John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Below we can clearly see Jesus upbraiding cities due to the lack of faith within them. Mighty works were done in them, and people still did not believe! Jesus makes a comparison with Tyre and Sidon, because if such mighty works would have been done in their cities, they would have repented long ago. True repentance leads to life. Miracles such as casting out demons, and healing the sick, can therefore be very important tools to reach the lost. Not just regarding the temporary physical blessings here on earth, but for people’s eternal future – which is way more important.

Matt. 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

+ Luke 10:13-37

People near Jesus realized that it is not likely that a devil would open the eyes of the blind. At least this is nothing that they had experienced before, and they started to believe that Jesus was truly divine. Also Jesus confirmed that the works that he performs in his Father’s name also bear witness of him. Due to the skeptics’ choice to doubt Jesus, they did not qualify to be his sheep. Because, who are the sheep of Jesus? They are the ones who choose to FOLLOW him according to John 10:27. Jesus explained that people had the chance here to believe in Jesus precisely due to the miraculous works he made – in combination with prophesies and the good fruit he displayed. Despite that the Jewish Torah should have made it clear for the Jews that Jesus is the one that the Scriptures talk about, and despite that John the Baptist spoke about Jesus as divine, the Jews still looked for reasons to not believe.

John 10:21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.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.41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.42 And many believed on him there.

It is a sad fact that people had the chance to be believers in Jesus but despite that he performed many miracles among them and influenced them to do so, they still did not believe:

John 12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

More examples of healing which can cause much faith

Below are some more examples of where Jesus miracles caused people to believe that he tillbedjan-7is the one he has always claimed to be – being one with his Father, the son of God, God in flesh, etc. On the one hand Jesus definitely expects people to believe in him due to combination of the many prophesies being fulfilled in him, due to the good fruit he displays and due to the many miracles he performs (casting out demons, healing the sick, etc) thanks to power from above. On the other hand Jesus dislikes when people approach him with total lack of faith and place the burden of proof on him – or else he has failed to win them over. Our attitude should not be ”I give you a chance right here and right now to show me signs so that I can believe. If not, you have failed to persuade me which means you lost and I won”. We are the ones who can gain by coming to Jesus in faith.

The fact that the Bible tells us about many people who started to believe when they witnessed the miracles performed by Jesus and his apostles, is of course evidence for that people were not predestined to be elect and non-elect from the foundation of the world.

John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

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.

John 7:31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?

John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

John 6:30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Acts 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.12 Then the deputy, WHEN he saw what was done, BELIEVED, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

Mark 15:32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

We are asked to continue on Jesus path. Casting out demons and healing the sick are still helpful tools to us. Below James is talking about the church settings, but we are also asked to go out in the world to evangalize to the lost and in such circumstances it is possible to perform the great works that Jesus has promised we would be able to do in his name.

Ja. 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Mark. 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

If such miracles and possibilities are supposed to have ceased after the time of the apostles, the word of God certainly forgot to mention it. Instead Christians all over the world have accepted the wonderful promises tied to believers and as a consequence people have been set free from demons and have become healed. A good preacher will encourage Christians to make use of the spiritual gifts which are for today. Praise you Lord!

Here you can read about speaking in tongues.

The holy Spirit is given after faith and repentance – not before

acts-10Repent, 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 2:38)

Some Calvinist friends are of the opinion that God is the one selecting whom to save and provides the holy Spirit to the chosen individuals – and in this fashion enables them to believe (while he shows no courtesy to the others who are chosen to be non-elect before they are even born). The Bible, however, teaches that God does not want anyone to perish and that the holy Spirit is given to a person after he/she has repented (after having come to Christ and confessed his/her sins). You can read my article about regeneration (being born again after having been cleansed from sins) here.

Based on the Bible we can deduce that the presence of the holy Spirit (the holy Ghost) operates in different ways between the old and the new testaments (this deserves an article of its own). Suffice is to say that one could of course be saved also during the time of the old testament, before the time of Jesus Christ who later died, was resurrected and provided the holy Ghost as our individual Helper. Before his time, there was a lot of focus on the prophets of God who could provide extra light on the Torah. Faith leading to righteousness has always been required for salvation ever since the time of Adam.

2 Pet. 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:.13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Cornelius – faith and righteousness before the indwelling of the holy Spirit

The apostle Peter describes the truth about salvation ”in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him”. The ability to do this was available both in the old and the new testament, even if the holy Spirit operates in a different way today compared to the old times. One difference is that people did not speak in tongues in the old times, and miracles and healing were primarily connected to the prophets and holy men of God.

The story about Cornelius (Acts 10) is enough for us to understand that a person can believe in God, do many good works – before having been baptized in the holy Spirit.

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.4 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.—22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.—33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.—44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.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.46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Here is more evidence that faith precedes the indwelling of the holy Ghost:

Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, WHICH THEY THAT BELIEVE ON HIM SHOULD RECEIVE: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

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.

Heb. 11 he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently SEEK him.

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. —30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee

2 Tim 2:20 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 purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

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.

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

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

Ezekiel 18:31 Make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die… 

Rev. 2:21 And I gave her SPACE TO REPENT of her fornication and she repented not. 22 Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation except they repent of their DEEDS

Notice below that the order of events is 1) enlightenment to every man who comes into John 1.jpgthe world, 2) reception and belief in Jesus Christ, 3) resulting in becoming the sons of God (thanks to being cleansed and pardoned):

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.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

Notice also that ”his own” did not receive him. If that would signify the chosen elect, it is strange why God did not enable them (predestine them) to believe in him. It rather seems like it is our own responsibility – to react on God’s calling. This is not the same as ”saving ourselves” without God. We do not have the authority to forgive ourselves for our own sins, and we cannot be born again without the grace of God and unless he provides the opportunity for us to have all of our sins erased.

He that COMETH to God must BELIEVE that he is – Hebr. 11:16

regeneration 3But 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. Hebrews 11:6

It is rather clear that God requires us to have faith in him and believe in him before we come to him (we would not come to him unless we believed in him). We must carry faith/belief with us when we come. Calvinists, however, believe in Total inability (as in T in TULIP), so they believe that all people are born with a natural inability to believe in God, and that God consequently must ”open their eyes” in order to make them believe. This results in God actually choosing whom to save and whom to damn (before we are even born), because God does not enable all to believe in him. Hebr. 11:6 does not suggest that God starts out making some of us believe. It is rather we who must make sure to believe and come to him. If we do, we have wonderful things in store for us! The Bible does not teach anything close to Calvinism. We are ALL given light when we come into this world and we are requested to believe and to follow him in order to not walk in darkness:

John. 1:4 In him was life; and the life was THE LIGHT OF MEN.—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.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM GAVE HE THE POWER TO BECOME THE SONS OF GODeven to them that BELIEVE on his name

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON ME should not abide in darkness.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light OF THE WORLD: he that FOLLOWETH ME shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 3:21 But he that DOETH truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

2 Cor. 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them WHICH BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Notice above that God chooses to blind the minds of them WHICH BELIEVE NOT. That is a similar story as in Rom. 1:18-32, where God in v. 28 is told to give people up to a reprobate mind because of their refusal to retain God in their knowledge.

Pay special attention to John 1:12 which says:

”But AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM GAVE HE THE POWER TO BECOME THE SONS OF GODeven to them that BELIEVE on his name”

The order of events is 1) believe/receive him, leading to 2) becoming the sons of God. Not the other way around.

People who COME must believe, and they might not always DO the things of God or remain with him

Jesus asks:

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and DO NOT the things which I say?

According to Calvinism I thought it was not even possible to NOT do the things which the Lord says? So why does Jesus imply that it is possible to act contrary to his requests? He continues:

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and DOETH them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.49 But he that heareth, and DOETH NOT, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

I thought all people everywhere always did the sayings of the Lord? Yet here we can see that some people COME to the Lord, HEAR his sayings and yet choose to NOT do the sayings of the Lord. It certainly does not seem like we always act as God would want us to act. The blame for ”not doing” is further on man and not on God. Notice that the parable is about men who builds something – their own houses – which means that their own choice of building construction will depend on

Ja. 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.–40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and BELIEVETH ON HIM, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.—51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if ANY MAN EAT of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Parable of the great banquet – where people are requested to COME and yet they do notvälja liv2

 Below we can see that the Master of the house asked his servant to go out and bid many to a great supper. The servant was asked to say to those who were bidden to ”COME, for all things are now ready”. The Master in this parable could be likened to God the Father, and as we can see in the parable people who were initially invited to come found excuses for not coming!

The servant was then asked to ”bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind”, which is something the servant had already done. It seems like these groups of people (rather unfortunate people here on earth due to their poverty and physical shortcomings) had an advantage here because they were singled out as specifically welcomed, but we are not told that every single one of them chose to come. Just that there was still room left also after these groups had been invited. (The case could also be that people who are poor and maimed have a higher tendency to seek God compared to people who have always lived in comfort and luxury.)

The Master became ANGRY when those who were initially bidden declined to come. The blame for not coming must be placed on them and not on the Master (God) because the Master truly wanted all invited to come – yet they did not. The Master said of those who declined to come: ”none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper”.

Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

After having told the parable, Jesus continues to explain that if we do come to him we must ”hate” our father and mother, which means that we should not act like the unwise people in the parable who offered up various excuses for not coming to the Supper, such as marriage, when they were compelled to come. Nothing should prevent us from coming to God if he calls us! Not even if it is about our father and mother. Naturally marriages,   parents, newly bought land, etc are important matters, but compared to God and his calling we must still prioritize correctly and place all other things in second place. A condition for being a disciple is to bear our cross and follow Jesus. He does not say that he will do this for us and instead of us so that we will not have to.

He goes on to explain that it is our job to count the cost before we choose to come! Do we have sufficient motivation to be his disciples? Will we be able to love God before anything/anyone else and carry our cross? If not, coming to Jesus will not save us if we are not prepared to forsake other things which might be in the way when we become his disciples. We must be eager to follow him and obey his commandments, which will truly show that we love him. It might seem like a difficult task, but we are not asked to cease living in this world or to avoid having families and possessions. We are just asked to be prepared to place God before anything else – and if we love him we obey him. The holy Spirit is our helper! Salt is good but even salt can lose its’ savor, which indicates that we are not unconditionally saved:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Parable of the wedding banquet – where people on the wedding invitation refuse to come

 There is one verse in the below parable which Calvinists often quote, and that is ”For many are called, but few are chosen”. This verse read in a vacuum might sound like God is the one choosing whom to save, but not only does the verse not say this, but the context shows that those who are called ”chosen” are those who accept to come to the King’s wedding feast for his son! This means that we can all end up in the great wedding feast if we choose to accept the invitation and also make sure to show up – dressed in proper clothes. It is our responsibility to go to the party that we have been invited to, and if we decline and/or do not show up it is our fault and certainly not God’s fault for not ”choosing” us. We can all be among the chosen, and God should not be blamed if we find ourselves on the outside.

Let us also remember that Israel was ”chosen”, but not all Israel will be saved. When we read about groups of people or individuals being ”chosen”, it does not necessarily mean ”chosen to believe”. In fact, there is not one such case in the Bible. This parable clearly shows that many people who had their names on the guest list for the wedding feast chose not to come, even though the King expected them to come and was angry when they gave excuses for not coming! God would want all people to be saved, but man has a free will and is responsible for his own decisions and actions. Good and bad people are invited to come, which means that also unrighteous people have a chance to enter the kingdom of God. The condition, however, is repentance in order to be forgiven and cleansed, and if we repent we will also get the proper wedding garments. 

Matt. 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and THEY WOULD NOT COME.4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

”God has dealt to every man a measure of faith” – concerns spiritual gifts – Rom. 12:3

acts 17 27We are created with the ability to seek and find God

To start with we know from the Bible that God has created us with the ability to SEEK him and FIND him, even though he is not far from any one of us. It’s for this purpose that he has formed us. There is much joy in heaven for each person who repents, because this means that a person has gone from death to life and God doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;30 Truly, these timso that they should seek the Lord,es of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this TO ALL by raising Him from the dead.” (NKJV)

John 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world

Ez. 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

If we preach that ”faith is a gift”, there is a risk that people will understand this to mean that God gives ”faith” (faith to believe in God) to some and not to others, since all people evidently don’t have faith in God. This logically results in that people who don’t believe in God are innocent victims, because God did not provide them with enough ”faith” to repent and believe in him. They would have good reasons to be disappointed with God who prevented them from believing. Therefore it’s best to not express ourselves in a way that can easily be misunderstood. (Nevertheless, calvinists do believe that God predestines some to be saved and others to not be saved so they wouldn’t have any reasons to suggest they are misunderstood.)

Many people get healed thanks to THEIR faith

Some christians erroneously believe that the ”gift” spoken about in Eph. 2:8-9 is ”faith”, but in reality the Greek shows that it’s ”salvation” that is the gift as can be seen here. It’s certainly true that we don’t have to pay for our salvation, or that we can merit salvation by anything we do (or believe), because we would be hopelessly lost without the gift offered to us even though we don’t deserve it in the least. Some christians suggest that Rom. 12:3 indicates that God hands out the gift of faith (the ability to believe in God) to SOME people, leaving the rest in darkness, but if that were the case God alone must be blamed for people’s ”choice” to not believe in him since they in reality wouldn’t have any choice in the matter. Rom. 12: 3 actually says that God has dealt to ”every man” the measure of faith:

Rom. 12:3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV)

Note that not all ”faith” spoken about in the Bible is in relation to belief in God but it could also be in relation to a person’s faith in one or more of the spiritual gifts, and that is the topic of Rom. 12. Not all christians have a strong faith in that they can be healed (sometimes they get healed anyway), or that they can prophesy, speak in tongues, etc. Fortunately our faith can grow in this area. Here are some examples of where people’s faith plays an important role when it comes to healing (KJV and NKJV):

Mark 5:24 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.

Acts 14:9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Luke 17:.17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, GREAT IS THY FAITH: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Mark. 5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE; go in peace, and be faith 3whole of thy plague.

Luke 18:41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE.43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Mark 6:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now HE COULD DO NO MIGHTY WORK THERE, EXCEPT THAT HE LAID HIS HANDS ON A FEW SICK PEOPLE AND HEALED THEM. 6 And He marveled because of their UNBELIEF. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. 

Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. —13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and AS THOU HAST BELIEVED, SO BE IT DONE UNTO THEE. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Matt. 17:14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.17 Then Jesus answered and said, O FAITHLESS AND PERVERSE GENERATION, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?20 And Jesus said unto them, BECAUSE OF YOUR UNEBELIEF: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Also 1 Corinthians 12-14 concerns the spiritual gifts. Paul says ”There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit”. He says that the Spirit is distributing these gifts to each one has he wills, but he also tells us to COVET EARNESTLY the best gifts. Too many christians are of the opinion that the spiritual gifts have ceased, but some of them still concede that ”Sure, if God one day hits me with some of these gifts out of the blue, then who am I to object”? Meaning, they wait for God to take action despite of their disinterest and objections to the spiritual gifts, and by being so reluctant they disobey Paul who tells us to EARNESTLY DESIRE the best gifts. Instead of earnestly desire these gifts, they might choose to discourage others from having this type of desire by telling them that the gifts have passed and are not for today. Flee from a pastor who warns you and discourages you from seeking the gifts. Satan is thrilled each time he can disarm a christian person and make him weaker.

If healing, prophesying and speaking in tongues have ceased, then so have faith, wisdom, knowledge and ”discerning of the spirits”, which can be found on the same list. ”Faith” is here listed separately, and it could for instance concern the hopes and expectations that we have when we take the time to pray. If we believe that praying is a more or less a waste of time and that God either doesn’t hear our prayers or that everything is predetermined, then it’s a risk that become weak when we pray (if we pray at all). It could also concern our faith in relation to prophesies and dreams – that God is able to express himself through such means (this could be combined with discerning the spirits) – and that we are able to find ourselves in ”divine appointments” with other individuals in our daily lives which we should make use of. Another example could be when we are trusting in God for providing financial aid in a difficult situation, and there are numerous testimonies from christians who give account of miracles that they have experienced when they are being provided money precisely when needed in a very urgent situation which they have prayed about. If we have a strong faith in that God is able to lead us in our daily life, we have accomplished much and our faith can grow even further. We will understand the power of prayers and that we can be useful tools for others, just like other people can be used by God to enlighten and encourage us.

1 Cor. 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

1 Cor. 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But EARNESTLY DESIRE the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

faith 4The context of Romans 12 – having faith in spiritual gifts

Romans 12 shows us how Paul beseeches the christians in Rome, and all of us, to live holy lives in order to be acceptable to God, and to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Rom. 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Right after v. 3, where Paul mentioned ”as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”, he explains further what he means by that:

FOR as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

As we can see, Paul has spiritual gifts in mind when he speaks about ”faith” in v. 3 (the previous verse). He says in v. 4  ”let us prophesy in proportion to our faith”, because the truth is that not everyone has the gift of prophesying – often because they don’t even believe in the spiritual gifts . Paul says ”Let us use them”, indicating that some of us are not using our gifts even though they are provided to us, and one reason might be lack of boldness. Which gifts we possess are dependent on our willingness to seek the gifts (as we are told) and which gifts the Spirit provides us (God’s grace). Apart from using faith in relation to prophesy, Paul also mentions ministering, teaching exhorting, giving, leading and being merciful. These are all areas where a strong faith is very useful, and the more we see what God can do, the more our faith can grow and we become more bold – fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Not all of us are for instance teachers, but we can all do something for the Kingdom of God, depending on our personalities, talents, gifts and faith. We are all different members of the same body.

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 

We will be judged by a righteous God – and he knows what we know…osas 10

A person can be healed through faith in his name (either from the one who heals, or the one getting healed, or both). The following verse is both about believing in Jesus, and believing in the power that extends from him  – so that we are able to expect a person getting healed.

Acts 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

If we have a strong faith, we can better endure persecutions and tribulations, and we can better learn the power of a prayer. There is a risk that we might habitually pray but still lack faith in that God will respond. It’s like going in to a store and by the counter ask for a certain product, and when the salesperson says ”Sure, one moment please” and leaves the counter in order to get what you ask for, you stand there with doubts if this person is actually going to return with your product. ”Maybe the product is out of stock, or maybe the salesperson forgot about me or went for lunch?” So you just leave the store without getting the product that you asked for, even though you had the chance and should have endured. We can learn to grow in faith.

2 Thes. 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

If God would hand out various amounts of ”faith” to us , as an ability to even believe in him, it wouldn’t make sense for Jesus to request us to believe in him if he is aware of that some of us lack the faith to do it.

 John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.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.

Matt. 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

It’s not biblically sound to answer Jesus ”because you didn’t provide us with enough faith”. What must we do to be saved?

Acts 16:30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I DO to be saved?”31 So they said, “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul and Silas didn’t answer ”There is nothing you can do to get saved, apart from hoping that God has given you enough faith to believe in him. Just wait and see”.

We will be judged based on our faith, what we know and learn, if we seek God’s wisdom, our fruit and our conscience:

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?—17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Rom. 2: 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Luke 10:13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

The IMPUTED righteousness of CHRIST – is not Biblical

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it [believing God] was IMPUTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: and he was called the Friend of God. James. 2:23 

hypocriteThe word ”imputed” comes from the Greek word ”logizomai” (Strong’s 3049) which could be translated as ”reckon, count, charge with; reason, decide, conclude; think or suppose”. Notice that it doesn’t mean ”transfer”, but rather ”reckoned” or ”counted as”.

The word is found 41 times in the New Testament, and 4 of those times the word is translated as ”impute” in the KJV.  Rom 4:6-11 and  22-24 have the same Greek word (logizomai) as in James 2:23, and it doesn’t mean ”transfer” there either. These verses use the same word even if they are translated differently:

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it [believing God] was counted unto him for righteousness. Rom. 4:3

Even as Abraham believed God, and it [believing God] was accounted to him for righteousness. Gal. 3:6

And therefore it [faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. Rom. 4:22

CountedRom 2:26, Rom 4:3, Rom 4:5, Rom 9:8, Reckoned = Luk 22:37, Rom 4:4, Rom 4:9-10 and Rom 6:11, Rom 8:18, Accounted = Rom 8:36, Gal 3:6

We are asked to be righteous just like Jesus is righteous  

This doesn’t mean that the only means to get saved is to have lived a life free of sins just like Jesus did, but neither is the promise”If you only believe in Jesus, he will confirm you as righteous even if you’re not”. First we must be cleansed in the blood of Jesus – upon repentance – and then the idea is to be led by the Spirit and not by the flesh, which no one else will do for us. We are not able to go piggybacking on Jesus.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.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.

God’s wrath is still upon us if we sin, and if we are under God’s wrath we are not saved.

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.” (NASB)

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Jesus righteousness cannot be transferred/injected into us and we are not righteous unless we LIVE righteously

Our righteousness does not depend on being injected another person’s righteousness, but our righteousness depends on how we live our lives.  

Jesus lived a perfect life (always being obedient to God the Father) and died on the cross for us, and in THAT WAY he is our righteousness. Had Jesus not lived an obedient life for us, he could not have been our righteousness, because the atonement wouldn’t have been perfect. He is NOT our righteousness because he has transferred his righteousness into us (and neither did he literally take our sins on himself as in some kind of an exchange) to make us righteous in position despite that we still live in sin. It’s important to understand that Jesus did NOT obey our moral obligations for us and instead of us!  The Bible talks about imputed righteousness but NEVER the imputed righteousness ”of Christ.  We can read about the righteousness of GOD throughout the Bible (and that Jesus is righteous), but the idea that God looks upon us and sees the righteousness of Christ in us (or the blood of Jesus) instead of our sin, will result in a license to sin. When God looked at the churches in Revelation, he DID notice their sins and asked them to repent.

We are not justified by the works of the law but by God’s grace, so to say that we need perfect obedience to the Torah to be credited to our account in order to be justified is justification by works instead of justification by grace/mercy. God cannot declare the guilty to be innocent – like in a forensic justification – as that would be a lie, but God can PARDON the guilty and he does so if the guilty person repents from his sins.

Abraham is given as an example when it comes to being righteous/justified through faith, because he was counted as righteous BEFORE the law of Moses started to apply. Not all who have Abraham as a forefather are the children of Abraham and saved, but only those who are spiritually circumcised (in their hearts) and BELIEVE the way he did – and he showed his faith with some amazing deeds (work). Those who WALK as he did and obey God as he did (which is something we DO) are circumcised in heart and the true children of Abraham. We do not deserve salvation by anything we do (or believe) but faith without deeds is dead.  We can read ”blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”, which shows that all people apparently don’t have sin – namely those whom the Lord do not impute sin. Who are they? They are the ones who have confessed their sins, repented and who walk with Jesus. So when we read ”God imputeth righteousness without works”, it means the works of the law (the Torah and the 613 laws in it), and naturally God wouldn’t impute righteousness to Abraham if he only sat under a tree and ”believed” without showing his faith by OBEDIENCE. Not obedience to the law of Moses (which didn’t exist at the time) but obedience to GOD.

When it comes to Rom. 4:6, it doesn’t say that a person is especially appreciated and blessed if he doesn’t have any works to show up at all and that he only has ”faith alone”. If that were true, it would mean that the less works we have, the more blessed we are and the better it is. No, Paul’s point is to get the jews to understand that they are not saved due to being born Jews and/or for obeying the Torah (613 laws), but a person is blessed/saved if he repents from his sins, believes in Jesus and through this procedure becomes cleansed from his sins. Those are blessed whose trespasses are FORGIVEN, because then God will not impute sin to them. Does this wonderful promise only apply to the Jews? No, Paul wants them to understand that also the uncircumcised (the gentiles) have his promise which is by faith and not by law. Notice how many times we can read about ”circumcision”, so this is what is in focus (the ceremonial law) because the Jews were so concerned about it.

Rom. 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.—20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

James doesn’t contradict what Paul is saying. James says that Abraham was justified BY WORKS, and not faith alone. Are we perhaps teaching salvation by works if we choose to quote James?

James 2:18 Yea, 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.19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?23 And 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.24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

Paul is not disappointed with the Galatians for their suggestion that it’s still necessary to obey the ten commandments faith alone 3

In the letter to the Galatians, the reason for Paul’s objection to Galatians’s attitude is NOT because they wanted to return to silly old laws such as the ten commandments – just like ”Do not kill, steal, lie or commit adultery”. Why would he be disappointed or upset about that? Those commandments have been in use ever since the days of Adam, and they never cease to apply. No, Paul was disappointed with their teaching that circumcision – which is a ceremonial law in the Torah – was still necessary for salvation. The ceremonial laws are not necessary for salvation, but the law of love certainly is (and the ten commandments provide details of how the law of love works). Paul makes a different between the works of the law (Torah), and the obedience of the holy Spirit.  The Torah was our  schoolmaster to keep us in order  until the arrival of Jesus – after Jesus death the holy Spirit took over as our guide – and we’re supposed to have the law of love in our hearts. We will never be ”free” from the requirement to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, and as long we are slaves to sin (obey sin) we are definitely not free.

Acts. 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Gal. 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.— 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.—22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Paul makes it clear that sinning = spiritual death (also for christians).

Gal. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.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,21 Envyings, 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.

The significance of having our faith ”imputed” as righteousness, is that God forgives us our transgressions and treats us as though we have never sinned. This means that our sins disappears (without taking a detour in the body of Jesus) and God doesn’t have to LIE to declare us not guilty.  We are 100% cleansed when we are forgiven and free from our sins, but it doesn’t say ”once cleansed always cleansed”. If we become dirty once again, we’re back at square one.

2 Cor. 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.filthy pig

2 Pet. 2: 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Abraham showed his faith by obedience and was therefore righteous

(An excerpt from Jesse Morell’s upcoming book, ”The Vicarious Atonement of Christ.”

abrahamThere was a problem in Israel of thinking that righteousness consisted in external works of the law, which notion Paul needed to confront. There were Israelites who thought that they were righteous before God as long as they obeyed the Torah, even while sinning in their hearts. Jesus said our righteousness needed to exceed that of the Pharisees who obeyed the outward requirements of the Torah but were sinful inwardly. In context Jesus expounded upon the sins of the heart and not mere outward action, in regards to our righteousness exceeding that of the Pharisees.

Paul argued for a circumcision of the heart by faith in order to be righteous. Paul argued that Abraham was righteous and justified before the Torah was given through Moses, so that the external works of the law that the Torah demanded cannot possibly be what true righteousness consisted of. It could not be the means through which we are made righteous or justified in character. Paul argued that by faith in God Abraham was righteous and consequently justified, and so that is how Gentile believers are made righteous and are justified too.

In his heart Abraham trusted God so that in his life Abraham obeyed God. Faith of the heart was the seed to real obedience of life, so God imputed (reckoned or considered) Abraham’s faith as righteousness, as that was what it really was. A heart of faith is a righteous heart. Faith, which results in obedience, is what real righteousness is. Righteousness is not merely being circumcised or keeping the dietary requirements of the Torah. It is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man, not what goes into it. It is not by obeying the external requirements of the Torah and having outward works, even with selfish motives to be praised by men, which makes a man righteous before God.Real righteousness is not a work of the law at all, but is faith in God.

However, there is a problem in the church today just like there was in Israel. That is a problem of thinking that righteousness consists in works of the law or obedience to the Torah. Like the Pharisees who thought that they were righteous on a technicality, by observing the outward requirements of the Torah while still sinning in their hearts, the Theologians of today are teaching that you can be righteous before God on the same technicality as well. They teach that Christ obeyed the Torah or the law for us on our behalf as our substitute, so that His works of the law are imputed to us. In light of Christ’s works of the Torah being imputed to our account, they say, we are made righteous in the eyes of God and are consequently justified even though we are still sinful in heart and character. This is identical to the problem Paul had to confront when he argued that we are not righteous or justified by the works of the law but by a faith in Christ that purifies the heart. Paul was confronting this Pharisaical notion of being technically righteous before God by outward obedience to the Torah while still sinning inwardly in your heart.

The Pharisees and reformed theologians are both wrong in assuming that righteousness does not consist in works of the law, either performed by the individual or performed by a substitute on their behalf and imputed to them. There is no righteousness by works while still sinning in heart. It is a faith in Christ, a trusting of the heart that results in obedience of life, that is real righteousness in the eyes of God. When a man is sinning in his heart, he is not trusting God in his heart. But when a man is trusting God in his heart, he will not be sinning in his heart or life, and so God will impute or consider his faith as righteousness. It is by faith that our heart is purified so it is by faith that we are made righteousness.

Saved as by fire as per 1 Cor. 3:15? Yes, but NOT if we sin!

eldIf any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Cor 3:15)

This verse does not say that we can be saved in our sins, and notice that sins are not even mentioned in the context. This is a warning to christians (not sinners) who might not always build their lives on a proper foundation, and sometimes also lack the proper motivation for doing good works.

There are christians who are satisfied by with having a ”fire insurance” – an insurance that gives them the right to at least be exempted from hell, as long as they believe in Jesus Christ. They are content with this type of  insurance because this means they can still get away with sinning once in a while, and the only thing they would ever risk amounts to reduced rewards in heaven. They might think it’s worth it because heaven is always heaven, and with this type of insurance they can both have their sins and their salvation too. You might exclaim that ”true christians wouldn’t reason in that way!”, but isn’t it true that also christians can choose to sin? And isn’t it likely that they might give in for sins more readily if they are being told they won’t end up in hell for it? The tragic thing is that we do NOT have an unconditional fire insurance. We risk to be cut off the vine and thrown in the fire if we lack fruit (John. 15), and we will not reap eternal life in heaven if we break the commandments and sin. If we love Jesus, we obey him (John. 14:15).

The context in 1 Cor. 3:15 shows that it concerns believing christians and their building material and building methods. Sin is nowhere mentioned, and it’s not even needed to be mentioned since we already know from the rest of the Bible that sins separate us from God unless we repent. Nothing unholy shall enter heaven, and sins evidently make us unholy.  We can read that the foundation that we build upon must be JESUS CHRIST (and not ourselves, a philosophy, a pastor, a church, a dear friend, money, high status, tradition or someone/something else).  It’s the motives in our hearts that will be judged by God. He can see what ground we are building on, and the reasoning in our hearts.  Our motive should be to spread the gospel about Jesus Christ in order to see people saved.

Paul is addressing ”brethren”, but he is warning these brethren. He also lists a few sins that would make us carnal, and if we are carnal we are not saved:

1 C0r. 3:For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Rom. 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Speaking about christians, Paul says that they shall receive ”his own reward” according to their LABOR. This indicates these christians at least do some work, which means they produce some good fruit. That is a good thing because we know that lukewarm christians are not saved. We will reap the reward of eternal life if we show our faith with good works, and we will also be rewarded individually depending on our works.

1 Cor. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Rom. 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 of obedience unto righteousness?

Paul warns christians that they must take heed on the way they build their lives, and every man’s work shall one day be made manifest. Do we work in order to get a popular position in the society, or because we want to go with the flow? What are our true reasons?

1 Cor.3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

Paul says ”IF any man’s work abide”, meaning it’s not certain it will. It’s still ”work”, but will it abide? It depends on the motives. If it abides, the man shall receive both eternal life and individual gratification, but if the work does not abide but burned he will be saved but as by fire. If the man would be sinning on the other hand, he would not even be saved as through fire, but he wouldn’t even be able to enter the kingdom at all. This story is about christians who WORK, in combination with their motives for doing so. Paul ends with a warning to christians that if they defile the temple of God, which they all are, they will be DESTROYED.

1 Cor. 3:14 IF any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15 IF any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Read also the next chapter which is also about the intent of the heart.

1 Cor. 4:Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Three chapters later Paul lists sins that will prevent us from entering the kingdom of God, and christians are not exempted:

1 Kor. 6:Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

We can unfortunately be the cause for that a brother stumbles/falls/is offended, by the way we are living our lives:

1 Kor. 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (”stumble” NKJV)