Should we stop at “Saved by Grace Alone” + “Saved by Faith Alone” + “Saved by Christ Alone”? (14)

Question #14.  This is a follow-up article to add more information about salvation.  Should we stop at “Saved by Grace Alone” + “Saved by Faith Alone” + “Saved by Christ Alone”?  In Question #13, we put PLUS to the other ten ITEMS. Do you agree that the cited scriptures to the ten items are acceptable?  We find these items in the Bible. We cannot make God a liar by clinging only to grace, faith, and Christ.

Answer:  We should agree that there are more than three persons or items involved in our salvation. Submitted items in Question #13 are biblical. In this series, we add some more with scripture passages: 

+11.  Saved by abiding in the teachings and living righteously and godly until the appearing of Christ. We find the scriptures in John 6:27; John 8:31; John 12:48-50; Romans 8:1; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 5:2; 2 John 8, 9; 1 John 2:3-4, 15; Titus 2:11-14; James 1:27; Rev. 2:10. 

+12.  Saved by preaching the gospel – 1 Cor. 1:21 “foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

+13.   Saved by repentance, Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38. 

+14.   Saved through water. . . 1 Peter 3:18-22, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.  There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” 

     Was the flood water important in separating Noah’s family from their evil society?  Yes. Did the water alone and by itself save them without God and the Ark? No. God and the Ark were involved.  Did the Ark alone save the family from death? Not the Ark alone, but God’s love is the primary item in their salvation. Was their building the boat considered alone earned merits that save them?  No. Salvation is from God. But if they did not obey the command to build the Ark, would they be saved from the flood? No. Did Noah earn his salvation from the flood? No, he did not earn his salvation.  It was still God’s providence that saved Noah, but Noah had to obey God’s instructions. In addition to building the ark, he had to build it according to specifications. Did Noah have the freedom to change the measurements of the ark and the specified materials used in the construction? No, he did not have the freedom.  The number of animals to bring into the ark was also specified. Did Noah have the freedom to lessen the number? No, he did not have the freedom. But obeying the exact measurement of the ark by itself did not save Noah. If Noah made the Ark longer or shorter, would God Almighty be pleased? No. Noah had to obey God’s specific instructions for God to be pleased. 

     Obedience to the conditions and instructions of Christ should not be considered as earning and meriting salvation.  We should watch out about our attitude. Rather, have faith and love for Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our sins.  Lovingly and humbly carry out the instructions given by our benefactor should be our attitude. In the Old Testament, we have this undying principle: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”(1 Samuel 15:22-23) 

Three Tenses of Salvation

     To this writer, a discussion of the three tenses of salvation should be made clear.  In a timeline, where do we place the moment of the forgiveness of sins in relation to the moment of faith and the moment of being born again or the moment of immersion in water?  

     There are Bible students who place the forgiveness of sins at the moment of belief in Christ or at the moment of faith.  Others put forgiveness of sins when the Holy Spirit starts to work on the life of an elected, predestined individual. Still, others place forgiveness of sins at the moment a disciple is immersed in water. This initial forgiveness of sins is called the Past Tense of Salvation.  The basis of salvation is on the merits and righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice.  But the righteousness of Christ is the Grace of God. It is potential and available to every individual.  However, there are prerequisites or conditions in order to appropriate the merits of this Grace and righteousness of Christ before it could be imputed on a disciple. Are the conditions and prerequisites commanded by Christ himself called works? Works of faith?  Works of obedience? Works of love? Are they required or not? Like repentance and baptism? Yes, they are required. Do these items earn salvation? No. But they are required by the gracious and merciful God. 

     The second stage of salvation is the duration after the initial forgiveness of sins and a disciple makes his journey as a Christian in the Kingdom of God. This period lasts up to the point of physical death. Sometimes the disciple stumbles and repents and prays for forgiveness of sins.  There could be several examples and dates of stumbling and repentance and reconciliation with our Savior Jesus Christ. This is called the Present Tense of Salvation. Repentance of sins and failures are needed before forgiveness. This process of repentance and praying for forgiveness is gleaned from Acts 8:24.  After physical death, there comes an initial judgment where a disciple has enjoyed the imputed righteousness of Christ. His soul is carried by angels unto the Hades, which is called the bosom of Abraham in Luke 16:19-31. Are there activities or works demanded by Christ during this period?  Are there good works demanded by Christ that will spell out victory or failure in salvation? Yes, there are according to Ephesians 2:10.

     The third stage of salvation is called the Future Tense of Salvation.  This points to the Last Judgment Day.  1 Peter 1:8-9, “whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, (even) the salvation of your souls.”  Because this writer believes there is the possibility of falling from grace, and the strong deceptive works of Satan, not all who start the Christian journey succeed in reaching the finish line. So a disciple has to focus on finishing the race and with the help of the Holy Spirit, he could successfully finish the race and receive the salvation of his soul. That is what we understand from 1 Peter 1:9 and Rev. 2:10. 

     So when we discuss baptism, we should determine if we relate it to the Past Tense of Salvation or the Present Tense of Salvation or to the  Future Tense of Salvation.

Salvation by… and its iterations (13)

Question #13 – I used to read or hear that “salvation is by grace only”, others say we are “saved by grace through faith only”, and still others declare  “saved by grace only + faith only”, and then later it has become “saved by grace only + saved by faith only + saved by Jesus only”. What is the truth?  Why is it growing in number of items?  

Answer:  People keep on adding the plus sign (+)  because when they read the Bible, there are more items and persons listed relative to our salvation.  So that we will not commit what we call in logic, the “Fallacy of Partial View” we should get as many items and persons that are listed in the Bible. Are we saved by “Grace Alone + Saved by Faith Alone + Saved by Christ Alone”? 

     Do not stop on the third item.  There are other persons and items we read from the Bible connected with our individual salvation.  What prohibits us to add more if we find them in the word of God, the Bible?  

+1.   Saved by God says Titus 1:3, 4; Titus 2:10, “God our Savior.”

+2.  “Justified by His blood, we shall be saved”, Roma 5:9, 10.

+3.  “Saved by the gospel if we hold fast to it”, 1 Cor. 15:2.

+4.  “We shall be saved by His life”, Roma 5:10.

+5.  “Saved by calling on the name of the Lord”, Joel 2:32; Acts 2:22; 9:14.

+6.  “Saved by the implanted word”, James 1:21; Acts 11:14.

+7.  “Saved by the teachings of Christ and the apostles”, 1 Tim. 4:16.

+8.  “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved”, Mark 16:16

+9.  “Repent and be baptized and receive the remission of sins”, Acts 2:38. 

+10.  “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made to salvation”, Romans 10:9, 10. 

     There are other items found in the Bible. We shall in the following series submit other items. Below, we give a description of the word GRACE.

     Grace (Xaris in Greek)   “. . . but the N.T. writers use Xaris pre-eminently of that kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and grants to sinners the pardon of their offenses, and bids them accept of eternal salvation through Christ x x x is used of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increased them in Christian faith, knowledge, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 666)

     God in His kindness and mercy provided the basis of salvation which is Christ becoming flesh who suffered and died for the sins of the whole world. Therefore, GRACE is wide and encompassing. In Christ, we have God’s love, Christ’s blood, Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s commands and instructions.  The remission of sins of the whole world is not automatically applied to every individual when Christ appeared. Grace is available but not automatically imputed on sinners. God bids individuals to know about God, and to know about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Knowledge of this death, burial and resurrection of Christ for mankind’s salvation should be known and appreciated by an individual. God bids us accept this arrangement of salvation by appropriating the merits of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Accept it by FAITH.  But biblical FAITH involves obedience says Luke 6:46-47, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like.” And Christ tells the story of the “Wise Builder Who Built upon the Rock Foundation.” The obedient disciple is expected to obey the instructions of the Savior. 

       Some Bible teachers and preachers define grace as free gift from God without any conditions and without any participation of individuals. That makes salvation attractive to many, but that is deception. It is not biblical.   This is our illustration: Recently, there was a FREE book offer on the internet. To receive the FREE book, one should submit his name and address. Is the submission of name and address considered earning the cost of the book?  No. But if one who is interested to have the free book does not submit his name, the free book will not arrive in his residence. So there is a condition to receive the free gift of a book. There are offers in bazaars and malls about FREE items like “BUY ONE AND TAKE ONE FREE” during a Sale Period.   Is the second item free or earned? It is still free but one should obey the condition of buying one item. Does a customer go to the bazaar or mall and argue with the manager that to consider the item to be FREE, that item should be delivered to his residence without any effort? If a company usually sells a car at three million pesos, but at the birthdate of the store franchise he advertises “Buy one and take one free” would you consider the second car free or earned?  The second car is free, but one should buy the first car. To the giver, it is considered free because the second car costs nothing to the buyer. Likewise, this is true with our salvation. God offers salvation as free. But there are conditions to be met by individuals like Mark 16:15-16: Preach the gospel which should be accepted by a listener, then believe by the listener, then is baptized and then expect salvation.

Thank God like King David! (8)

Question #8 –  How did King David express his appreciation about the grace and goodness of our Almighty God Yahweh, and how should we show our gratitude for the same grace and goodness today? 

Answer – I find many instances in the Book of Psalms where King David expressed great awe at the grant of grace and mercy upon himself and upon humanity. Let us start off with Psalm 8:4-6 which is echoed in Hebrews 2:6-8. Knowing how to value the grace and mercy of God in our lives today will greatly improve how we value our relationship with our Almighty God. Please join me in making a journey on the life of King David.

        Hebrews 2:5-6, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?  You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” 

        In the vastness of space, our home earth is likened to a single grain of sand at the beach. One single individual is a tiny speck in the billions of humans alive today.  But our Almighty God cares for every single person. And our Lord Jesus Christ says that one soul is more valuable compared to the whole material wealth of the earth taken and quantified together. 

        Unfortunately, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were deceived by the Devil and fell from the grace of God and were driven out from the Garden of Eden where they enjoyed the fellowship of the Creator God. Prior to the fall of mankind, angels under the leadership of one called Lucifer mounted a rebellion.  They left their assigned abode and were immediately judged. Please read Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-19; 2 Peter 2:4-6; Jude 6. Angels were condemned. In comparison, the very day that Adam and Eve committed sin, God already revealed a plan for redemption in Genesis 3:15 – the coming of the seed of woman, which refers to the coming of the Messiah. Apostle Paul says in Galatians 4:4 that Christ was born of a woman. The Second Person in the Triune Godhead, became flesh says John 1:14.  The fallen angels did not have a second chance to regain fellowship with the Almighty God. But fallen mankind has a special consideration – a plan of salvation, a reconciliation with God Almighty through Christ Jesus.  

        Titus 2:11-13, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

        God took the initiative to start the plan of salvation for mankind based on love and mercy. Deity directly participated in this rescue of fallen humanity. Christ who is deity took the nature of flesh like we are. Mankind, including you and me, starting with Adam and Eve became sinners.  Christ the Man, bore the penalty of sin at the cross in Calvary. He is the Lamb of God that was offered for our sins. He invites every single individual to appropriate the merits of His sacrifice at the cross by faith, a faith that humbly and lovingly obeys and submit to the will of Christ the Redeemer. Christ says in John 14:15, 23, 24, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. x x x If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

        Constant meditation upon the journey of Christ from heaven to earth and His ministry, his suffering many insults, having been rejected by the chosen nation of Israel, the penalty of sin, the pain he carried at the cross should make us humble.  With humility, we should kneel down before Christ Jesus and express our gratitude for paying the penalty of our sins. We should be willing to submit to His sovereignty, his rule over our lives and be willing to love Him and obey His commandments.