Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Believer Won't Always Show Fruit of Salvation

Galatians 3:2-3, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, frustrated and astonished (Galatians 1:6-9) that they had been deceived by another gospel of partial faith in Christ plus works. Paul only wanted to know one thing in Galatians 3:2—How did you get saved? Paul wanted to know how they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit (which every believer has - Romans 8:9). Paul asked them—Did you get saved by doing works?, or did you get saved by believing the Gospel when you heard it preached? Works or grace? It's as simple as that. What most false teachers will tell you is that salvation is by grace, but you still have to have works to prove you're really saved! That is of the Devil folks. You are saved on the basis of God's grace alone, and nothing else is required to obtain, maintain or prove you're saved!!!

The following is a very helpful article defending salvation by grace, authored by Pastor Matt Costella. The article is titled: “THE REALITY OF A BELIEVER'S WAYWARD WALK.” This quote is from from 'Foundation' magazine, Issue 3, 2019:
The teaching that a true believer will always show visible fruit in his or her life or that no such thing as a carnal Christian (or lukewarm Christian) exists is completely contrary to Scripture, and yet this teaching seems to be increasingly prominent among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Many believers today have a desire to judge the reality of their own salvation or that of others on the basis of their outward walk and witness—or lack thereof. Yet the idea that a believer needs to examine his actions (or others’) to determine whether or not one is truly saved is unscriptural. The implication of this kind of theology is that salvation is only genuine through saving faith plus certain subsequent works or behavior—visible actions that can be quantified and observed by others. Those who embrace this teaching either ignore or reject the reality of positional/progressive/perfective sanctification. 
The Word of God is unequivocal with regard to justification: A sinner is justified solely through the grace (unmerited favor) of God as one recognizes his sinfulness and inability to save himself and trusts in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for his eternal salvation. This is not “easy believism”—this is saving faith. In other words, an individual repents (i.e. changes his mind concerning his lost state and ability to save himself) and places his faith (trust) in the person and cross-work of Jesus Christ alone to save him. While justification is a one-time event,  Christian growth (progressive sanctification) is a life-long process that is unique to every individual. We see this reality throughout the Scriptures. ... 
In the New Testament, one can find the same sad reality in the church—those who are truly part of the body of Christ through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ but who often go their own way and live for “self” rather than for their Savior. First Corinthians 2:14-3:3 describes three categories of people: 
While the natural man is totally incapable of walking with God, the justified believer who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior can choose to walk according to the Spirit (the spiritual believer) or according to the flesh (the carnal believer). Should a Christian choose to walk according to the desires of the flesh, then he will fail to bear the fruit of the Spirit and will, instead, bear the fruit of the flesh. This individual is described as one who is “grieving” (Eph. 4:30) or “quenching” (1 Thess. 5:19) the indwelling Holy Spirit—something only a true Christian could do. Yes, it is wholly possible for a believer to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit through his errant beliefs or behavior.
The Natural Man—an individual who does not have the Spirit of God within. In other words, this person is “unsaved” or “unregenerate.” He cannot understand the Word of God due to his lack of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and no “good works” are truly “good” as they are motivated by altruism rather than God’s glory and, in reality, are nothing more than “filthy rags” that he tries to pass off as “righteousness” (Isa. 64:6). 
The Spiritual Man—a believer who possesses the Holy Spirit and is yielding to the Spirit rather than to the flesh. This individual is “abiding in Christ” and is truly walking as a disciple (follower) of Christ. As he is enjoying fellowship with the Lord, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in his life for God’s glory.
The Carnal Man—a believer who possesses the indwelling Holy Spirit but is choosing to live according to the desires and dictates of the flesh rather than the Spirit. Failing to abide in Christ, this individual is more concerned with “self” (in an ungodly, worldly sense or even in a pious, self-righteous sense—either way, his focus is inward rather than God-ward).
Just because the Bible teaches that it is possible for a believer to live in carnality does not mean this behavior is acceptable to God. What is Paul’s answer to this? “Should we continue in sin that grace may abound. God forbid!” The answer to the quandary of the wayward believer is not to deny the reality of a carnal Christian or deny the reality of eternal security. The answer is to “know … reckon … yield” (Rom. 6)—to know who we now are in Christ, to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, and to yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are to seek to grow and mature in the Christian life and move forward rather than continually questioning the assurance of our salvation due to a focus that is stuck on self rather than on Jesus Christ and His perfect work. 
God’s Word is unequivocal concerning the serious consequences of a wayward walk (a carnal lifestyle). The carnal Christian will experience a lack of fellowship with the Savior, the chastening hand of God, and an incalculable loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The apostle Paul says that at the Judgment Seat a believer can even claim to have done a variety of good works, but if they were accomplished apart from the Spirit’s enabling (through self-effort) or for the wrong reasons, then such works will be burned up. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss” (1 Cor. 3:15a). Nevertheless, the carnal-but-justified saint is still saved: “But he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15b). He adds in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Interestingly, the primary Scripture texts detailing the Judgment Seat of Christ were written to the carnal Corinthian saints. 
It is vitally important for all believers to continually examine themselves to see whether they are abiding in Christ or, conversely, walking according to the flesh. Again, the apostle Paul instructs the Corinthian saints, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5). He adds, “And this also we wish, even your perfection” (2 Cor. 13:9). Paul did not question the salvation of these carnal Christians; rather, he encouraged them to personally and honestly determine whether or not their walk was consistent with their profession of faith. Had these Corinthians tried to verify their salvation according to their works or behavior, likely not one of them could have claimed to be saved. Rather, those who had trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation were to move on to “perfection,” or spiritual maturity. Because “Jesus Christ is in [them]” (2 Cor. 13:5), they needed to abide in Him and allow the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in their lives. 
It is unbiblical to assert that a believer should look at his or her life in order to determine whether or not one is truly saved. The one and only “test” that determines whether one has been justified before God is this: Have I trusted in Jesus Christ alone, who died for my sin and rose again, to be my Savior? The focus is not upon what we do for God but on what He did for us.  
The bottom line is this: The child of God may or may not be walking in proper fellowship with God. Keep in mind—the whole purpose of the New Testament epistles is to lay down correct doctrine that is intended to lead to correct behavior. The problem is that all believers continue to struggle with the flesh, and we will have this battle until we receive our glorified bodies. Even the apostle Paul wrestled with the flesh and concluded that victory comes only through the indwelling Holy Spirit as the believer yields himself to the Spirit’s control (Rom. 7:15-8:1). 
So often, believers want to judge their salvation (or another’s) based upon what they can—or cannot—visibly see. Let us focus on declaring the one, pure gospel and refrain from being the “judge and jury” as to another individual’s relationship with the Lord. Let us be careful not to devise a “works” theology of salvation—a false gospel that makes behavior, works, or “lordship” the litmus test for salvation—in an effort to address the problem of carnal Christians. Rather, let us boldly continue to proclaim the glorious gospel of grace. Likewise, let us stress the importance of spiritual growth and the biblical consequences of carnal living as we, with all longsuffering, endeavor to help and disciple wayward believers who are struggling with the desires of the flesh. And finally, “let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)” (Heb. 10:23)—praise God, He is faithful, even when we are not! 
SOURCE: Pastor Matt Costella, “THE REALITY OF A BELIEVER'S WAYWARD WALK”;  'Foundation' magazine, Issue 3, 2019.
I encourage you to read the full article. The only type of life which God offers is 'Eternal Life,' and it is completely FREE! Romans 4:6 says salvation is “without works.” Lordship Salvation requires works. Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University, requires works to be saved. Read for yourself! Bob Jones University requires you to turn away from your sins to be saved! Pastor Costella is so right—“It is unbiblical to assert that a believer should look at his or her life in order to determine whether or not one is truly saved. The one and only “test” that determines whether one has been justified before God is this: Have I trusted in Jesus Christ alone, who died for my sin and rose again, to be my Savior? The focus is not upon what we do for God but on what He did for us.”
“A man doesn't get better to get saved; he gets saved to get better.” —Pastor Curtis Hutson (1934-1995), “Salvation Crystal Clear.”

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