Friday, April 1, 2016

Taking Our Eyes Off Jesus Makes Us Sin-Conscious Or Vice-versa?

Can We Question Our Salvation By Our Performance?

Question : Since you believe we are not to judge our salvation by our conduct, how can we avoid self-deception? I know that you are against certain types of self-examination lest you become "sin conscious" and take your eyes off the finished work of the cross, but what do you make of verses that state that we know we have passed from death to life only if we live a certain way (like 1 John 3:14)? If I understand you correctly, you would question the salvation of someone who demonstrated no change of life and continued to walk in unrepentant sin. But doesn't this mean that, on some level, you are looking at your "performance" to verify your salvation?

Answer : Greetings in Jesus wonderful name! We are not saved by how we behave, but rather we are saved by how we have believed Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection which is the good news that saves us when we personalize it
(1 Cor 15:3-4, 1-2). Our change in behavior does not save us, but when we are saved, a change in behavior automatically takes place from that point of time as we begin to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to renew our mind with the Word of God, and renounce our old bad behavior and embrace the new life of God that empowers us to live Christ-like and even surprise ourselves with the good and godly behavior that we exhibit (Eph 4:22, 23, 24).

Once we are saved, we become attached to the vine of Jesus as a branch is attached. From that point of time, we do not try to change or strive to excellence, but the very life and breath of God that flows through Jesus is the food that we feed on through His Word and therefore as we grow and are pruned by God our Father, we begin to grow fruit of godly character in our lives which will glorify our Father God who has saved us through Jesus
(John 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8). In other words, we are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works (Eph 2:10). When Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."(John 15:5), He couldn't have been talking about our salvation because salvation is not a fruit bearing event but rather a one time event of believing and getting sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of rapture (Eph 1:13-14). Salvation is purely a personal gift of God to us that is given freely (John 3:16; Rom 10:9-10, 13; 6:23), but fruit are something that happens to us when we choose to cultivate God's character through us by staying attached to Jesus continually which will bring glory to God our Father in heaven (Gal 5:16, 22-23). Fruit has an effect on others where as salvation is purely personal. In other words, fruit is not something that happens to the branch, it's something that happens through the branch. And the branch does not make fruit grow by its own effort. It's the vine that does the work.

To avoid self-deception clearly Paul the apostle says,
"5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." (2 Cor 13:5-6, 7-8). We can examine ourselves only in the light of God's word of truth and the conviction of the Spirit of God after we are saved, that is, when we are in faith we can choose to see a change in our desire and the way we see sin as sin and nothing other than that, or in other words we will not give excuse for our sin and justify our own righteousness, but will accept our sin to confess it to Jesus when we sin and will depend only on His righteousness (Rom 7:18-19, 20; 1 John 1:9-10; 2 Cor 5:21, 17). We will also know and acknowledge our susceptibility to sin because of our sin nature that is within us and will never claim a sinless perfection until we die physically (1 John 1:8). Even though we know the truth of our own weakness of our sin nature within (Rom 7:17), yet we will reach out to Jesus to live a victorious life of faith that overcomes to make us be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (1 John 5:4-5; Rom 7:24-25; Matt 5:48), thus bringing glory to the Father God through our character that keeps on becoming more and more like Jesus day by day which is the will of God for us all (2 Cor 3:18; 4:16; Rom 8:29). Test of humility to acknowledge our mistakes as sinners in need of God's mercy and grace, and seek God for a transformation in character that is being perfected by Jesus is the true test of salvation (Heb 4:15-16; Jam 4:5-6, 7-8, 9-10). That is why a unbeliever in his right mind cannot acknowledge Jesus as his Lord and Savior (1 Cor 12:2-3; Matt 16:16-17).

I against certain types of self-examination means, I do not want people to never ever believe that they are saved or need to be saved by their works of any kind, as apostle Paul is very clear that none of our works can ever save us even in a million years except our faith through God's grace which is the gift of God so that none of us can ever boast about our salvation except in God who has given it to us freely out of His riches in Christ Jesus
(Eph 2:8-9). If we focus on our own greatness in pride or scrutinize our self too much to gain perfection by our own strength, then we automatically become sin-conscious rather than being righteousness conscious because of not focusing on Christ and His righteousness by faith which is a gift just like salvation is a free gift (Heb 12:2; Rom 4:13, 16; 5:15-16, 17; 2 Cor 5:21). But we also know that God wants all men to examine themselves before they take the holy communion, which again shows that there is a place in God where when we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, he will convict us of our sin, then point us to Christ's righteousness and will give us the confidence that Satan and his demons are defeated, and so has no power to impulsively make us sin and have dominion over us (1 Cor 11:28, 31-32; John 16:8, 9-11; Rom 6:14).

When the Bible says that we know we have passed from death to life only if we live a certain way
(1 John 3:14), it does mean that it insists all the religious fanatics who believe they are saved when they have joined the Church or they were saved when they have decided to be good and better through their new year resolutions, to recheck themselves to acknowledge that they are sinners and that they can be saved only through believing Jesus as their Lord and Savior (John 6:40). The only condition that God mentions to get saved is belief, it is a warning that the apostle John has given to religious fanatics to see whether they are able to unconditionally love their brethren, which is easy when they are saved and will be effortless because that is who they will be on the inside of their heart and character (Jam 3:11-12; Matt 7:16, 17-18, 20). Even if a believer fails in loving his brother, he will again repent and walk in the truth, bad fruit cannot continue to come indefinitely through them as they are the children of God. So according to John the apostle, we are not saved by how we behave, rather we will behave well if we saved. We will humble ourselves and repent of our wrong doing and bad attitudes against our brethren or even enemies, if we are really saved by God, the behavior will line up to one's belief at a certain point of time by the grace of God.

Yes I would question the salvation of someone who demonstrated no change of life and continued to walk in unrepentant sin continuously, because apostle Paul Himself said that we should judge those people and not keep company or close communion with them so that we might not be ruined and be pulled back from whole heartedly following Christ
(1 Cor 5:9, 13; 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14), this is done not to insult them but to make them know that we are expecting them to humble themselves and repent of their sinful habit so that they will again be able to glorify God for what He has invested in them through salvation freely or if they have lived hypocritically and religiously deceiving themselves as being saved, expect them to make a turn around and trust Christ as their Lord and Savior not just with a lip service which is of no value but right from their heart which will truly save them for eternity ahead (2 Cor 2:5-8; 7:8, 9-10, 11; 12:21).

So I can assure you that just because I would question a unrepentant sinning Brother or even a religious sinner, doesn't mean that, on some level, I am looking at their "performance", but rather it is a loving rebuke as a fellow Brother to turn them from their sinful ways and make them live for the joy of salvation which is my goal, and my strong belief is that the very purpose for the existence of the Church of Jesus Christ is to turn people to Christ and make them enjoy their Lord and God
(Heb 3:12, 13-14; 4:9-10, 11; Psa 51:12-13, 15, 17; Exo 20:2).

The bottom line is, we cannot question the salvation of others by their performance or even ourselves by our performance, because salvation is something that God does to us one time, but the fruit of salvation is something that happens through us overtime after we are saved. And it is a process of pruning that God does through which He Himself brings the fruit, our feelings might change now and then, but we must stay Christ conscious in His righteousness to overcome and stay victorious over sin by faith. In other words, we are not saved by our performance, but if we are saved, our performance will change gradually over a period of time as we trust God to do the good work until the end which he has started through our salvation
(Eph 2:10; Php 1:6; 2:12-13). You work out your salvation outside through your performance what He works in within you through your belief (Php 2:12-13; 1 Thess 2:13), so that which God works by His grace he rewards you by His benevolence and goodness. So taking our eyes off Jesus' perfectly completed work of the Cross will make us sin-conscious, again returning to focus on the finished work of the Cross will make us righteousness-conscious and live in victory over sin (Gen 3:20-22). Being sin-conscious will make us move away from Christ, instead of moving towards Christ (Gen 3:8, 9-19). So only we brethren are to exhort one another as long as we are alive in a time space God's program called 'Today', the more we come near to the day of rapture, the more we need to encourage each other to stay away from sin and be Christ conscious which will bring righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit which is the evidence of living in the kingdom of God presently in the earthen realm (Heb 3:13-24; Rom 14:17). As God will soon crush Satan and his demons under our feet shortly, until then let us continue to overcome sin, sickness and death by the grace and empowerment of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen (Rom 16:20).

Much Blessings....


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