Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What must I do to be Saved?

17 As He was leaving on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially good and morally perfect], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” Mark 10:17 AMP
30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30 NKJV
 What must I do to be saved? This is a question that is often asked by many when they first hear the good news of God's free gift of eternal life. The answer to this seemingly simple question has caused much division and strife in the Body of Christ. 
 The reason for the strife and division is simply because religious minded believers refuse to allow the Scriptures alone to answer this question. Whenever we seek to add to or embellish the Scriptures to fit our own narrative or personal agenda we will always have division and disunity. The Word of God is the supreme authority for doctrine and truth. Just let the Scriptures be the final authority and the areas of disputes will fade away. 

 Two answers to the same question

 The Word of God gives two different answers to this question. The Old Covenant answer is recorded in Mark 10. The New Covenant answer is recorded in Acts 16. It would behoove us to rightly divide the Word of God to get the Scriptural answer to this vital question.

 The rich young ruler asked this question of Jesus. Here is Jesus response;
19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother. 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:19-21 NLT
 This is a lengthy answer the Lord Jesus gives. Jesus very literally answers the man's question. What must I do to be saved? Do? Do this and keep that and maintain a perfect track record! That was basically Jesus' answer. 
 Paul the Apostle of Grace was asked the same question in the New Covenant. Here is his response;
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” Acts 16:31 NLT
 Paul and Silas gave a concise and to the point answer. What was the difference between Paul and Jesus? The difference was because Paul was speaking after the Cross, the Finished Work. Paul was preaching the gospel. 
 The controversy is because people aren't rightly dividing the Word between the Old and New Covenant. Jesus, when He answered the young man, wasn't preaching the gospel! He was merely showing the impossibility in man's ability to keep God's Law. He was revealing to all the necessity of a Savior. 
 Paul and Silas, on the other hand, were ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. Paul was revealing the plan of salvation purchased for all who will simply receive it. Paul's answer to the question is this. Simply believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus plus something equals nothing

 When religious minded believers are asked then what must we do to be saved, they point to Jesus' response to the rich young ruler. This is where this heresy of Lordship Salvation finds its roots. In order to be saved, they say, you must first make a lifetime commitment to do more and perform better. They insist the lost one must instantly commit to Christ's Lordship by ceasing from all sin and wrongdoing. In other words, the lost must clean up their act before Christ will save them.  Instead of simply receiving a free gift by faith, salvation becomes a works-based relationship.

 The problem is "performance driven" religion is putting a burden on the lost they can't possibly uphold. How can one who has yet to receive the free gift of Grace make any commitment to the Lord? This is the error of performance and works mentalities. They mistakenly define spiritual maturity, the level of obedience, and commitment as the roots of salvation, not the fruit of new life in Christ. 

 Truly, Jesus plus something always equals nothing. Jesus plus something equals nothing but condemnation. Jesus plus something equals nothing but hierarchy among men. Jesus plus something leaves a wake of broken hearts and worn out believers with their security and assurance in Christ weakened and debilitated. 

Jesus plus nothing equals everything

 Those who are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ always point to Paul when asked what must we do to be saved. Simply believe in Jesus. That is all one needs to do. The simple act of believing in Christ means we place our confident trust in Jesus alone. We no longer trust in our intellect, or goodness, or our charitable deeds or works. We no longer look at the flaws that seemingly disqualify us. We simply place all of our hope, trust and confidence in Jesus alone to save us.

 Jesus plus nothing is what will produce fruit that is lasting and is not burdensome. Should we as believers in Christ be fruit bearers? Absolutely, we have the very life and nature of God within. We are brand new creations, always loved, and accepted with our Father in Heaven. We have the gift of irrevocable righteousness. 

 It is Jesus plus nothing that completes us. Jesus is always the answer to the equation. When we begin to acknowledge all we have and who we are because of Jesus alone, then maturity and fruit will be flourishing in our lives. We don't need performance driven ministers putting burdens and pressure upon us to try and force growth and productivity. Jesus and His great Grace within produces lasting fruit effortlessly. 

 The Gospel is an invite to receive a free gift. It is an invite to leave the life of burdensome efforts and find rest. The gospel invites us to simply rest in all Jesus did. Resting in Him alone, apart from human effort is all that is needed to produce real fruit. Lay aside works and efforts and performance. Trust in Him. What must we do to be saved? Put all our hope and confident trust in Him alone. Now rest knowing you are perfectly and fiercely loved by Him. 


Scott Leonard said...

I love it!! I'm all about grace. Galatians and Hebrews are perfect for outing the modern legalists-the Roman Catholic Church. They are all about Jesus plus. So are a lot of others.
But....I have to say something to tease out a fine point of distinction.....
What if Jesus and the apostles said we must repent to be saved? (They did.) What if they said we must receive Christ for who He as Lord of all? (They did.)
BUT, what if they said God will hand you the faith that repents and trusts him for all He is? THEY DID!

Wanna talk about grace? John MacArthur is, I'm sure, on your radar for being one of THOSE "Lordship Salvation" guys. You're thinking that's legalistic, right? Well guess what.? He's a reformed theologian (as am I) and we believe, as Spurgeon put it, that it's "All of Grace." ALL OF IT. Jesus said NO One can come to him unless the Father draws (literally, 'drags') him to him. If you are born again, God plucked you out of your dead rebellion and gave you repentance and faith. (see 2Tim 2:25 and Acts 13:48 "When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." I'm not making this up! :-) So you can believe Christians have hearts that bow before his Lordship and still be all about grace (we don't call them the 'doctrines of grace' for nothing!) That's REAL grace, and it's the true Gospel!

John W Reed said...

I guess Paul did a disservice by not telling the Philippian jailer to repent. Repentance means change of mind. God bless. I'm not a Calvinist not do I ascribe to Lordship salvation. I'm a Radical Grace preacher. Blessings.

Scott Leonard said...

John, if you look at the context of a 16, you might be led to believe that the jailer already had a heart of repentance and it was obvious to Paul.

Additionally, remember that it is God who saves and God who grants the faith to be saved, and when he gives genuine saving faith rather than the counterfeit, he gives repentance with it. It is 100% grace, brother!

Scott Leonard said...

That is,"...Acts 16...." :-)

John W Reed said...

Again, not a Calvinist nor do I subscribe to the ideology of Lordship Salvation. Repentance is not turning from sin or saying I apologize or feeling some sorrow. Repentance is a change of mind. It is that simple. God bless.