Monday, September 1, 2014

It's About Relationship

The image is used under Creative Commons license,
from, picture by Johnny Automatic
Luke 10:20 (KJV)  Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

"Jesus Christ is saying here, 'Don't rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.'".

That's the verse and beginning devotional statement for August 30th, by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.  That sentence is so true.  Yet, there's more.

There was a recent online discussion, once again about Paul Washer and his teachings about salvation.  I wrote about that, awhile back.  More recently, we discussed repentance and salvation.  And it all gets really interesting.

Acts 26:20 (KJV)  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

That verse, among others, is used as an excuse by some to suggest that we need to do more than just accept the gift of salvation.  How about this passage in the Gospel of John:

John 14:21-24 (KJV)  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

Add to that verses like Matthew 12:33 and Luke 6:44-46 and there seems to be reason to think, on this Labor Day holiday, that we need to labor to gain and maintain our relationship with God.  Paul responds to that thinking this way:

Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Jesus says this:

John 15:5 (KJV)  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

He doesn't say "Work for your own salvation, then without Me you can do nothing.".  In fact, we all know Isaiah 64:6, which reads "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.". That's pretty clear that our own works are useless.  But that verse is always preached alone, in contrast to something from the New Testament.  But look at the next several verses.

Isaiah 64:7-8 (KJV)  And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

How many times we've spoken or sung about being clay in the Potter's hand, without ever considering it was tied to such a denial of our righteousness.  We are created needing God and we continue that way.

Romans 5:15, 17 (KJV)  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. ... For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 

The reality is that we were and are unworthy of salvation.  Nothing we did or can do is sufficient for salvation.  Gaining it or keeping it.  So, what about Acts 26:20?  If we can do nothing without God's intervention, then repentance can't be the means of salvation.  Instead, it has to be the evidence that we have been saved by accepting it as a gift of Grace, from God.

When Jesus says we need to keep His commandments, that sounds like we need to fulfill the Ten Commandments, possibly the 600+ additions the Pharisees tacked on, and maybe all the laws of the various nations have enacted since.  In reality, it comes down to this:

Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

And, no, we can't do that of ourselves, but God can do it in us.  Just like everything else He does for us.  If we have doubts on this Labor Day holiday, Just remember this:

John 14:25-27 (KJV)  These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

What's God doing for and in you, today?

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