Matthew 7:21 NJKV - "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
Now, I fully expect to be controversial here! I've heard very well meaning Christians make it sound that people who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be their Savior won't get to heaven just because they believed! These "teachers" believe a person has to be a dedicated disciple of Christ in order to guarantee their salvation. And they use passages like our Daily Verse to back up their threats and fears they foster on struggling believers. These teachers have been responsible for far too many believers doubting their salvation and trying hard to do what is necessary to prove they are really saved. Did you just read what I just wrote? Let me say it clearer: THEY DOUBT THEIR SALVATION AND TRY AS HARD AS THEY CAN TO DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO PROVE THEY ARE REALLY SAVED! Did you get that?!
Now, read John 6:29, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'" Also, read 1 John 3:23, "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment." What does Jesus say is God's "work" and His "commandment?" BELIEVE on Christ!! And that belief has two important elements:
First, "sola fide" or in English, "By Faith alone." And better still in Evangelical Christian language: "Faith plus NOTHING!!" When a person believes on Christ as John 3:16 so clearly states, they "will not perish but have everlasting life." What part of that verse adds doing anything more than believe? Where in that verse do you read "Lordship Salvation?" Where in that verse do you read, "Discipleship Salvation?" You don't because those statements "AIN'T THERE!"
Second, I perfectly understand what James taught about faith and works. He was clear that Biblical faith changes a person's life. That is in harmony with 2 Corinthians 5:17, that anyone "...in Christ is a new creation..." Old living does pass away and new living begins. And that means that true justifying faith shows itself in works. Just like Paul taught in Ephesians 2:8-10, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." That means your works show your faith, especially from man's point of view.
Someone said that Paul spoke of "justification by faith" because he spoke of a person's faith before God. God can see the heart and the genuineness of that person's faith. On the other hand, James spoke of "justification by works" James 2:24. He was speaking of a man's faith before other men. People can't see your heart, 1 Samuel 16:7, so they have to see your faith demonstrated by your works.
What's the difference then about those who teach, "you have to really show in your life that your faith is genuine by a changed life and a determined desire to 'persevere to the end'" and those who teach, "you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved"? I'll answer that in tomorrow's Daily Verse.
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.