God saves us so that we cannot mess it up
They say if you have three Baptist’s together deciding something, that you will have 4
opinions. But the beauty of the Gospel is that it isn’t dependent upon subjectivism, rather it is objective, and historic and substantiated. It was a historical action done for you by a real person 2000 years ago and so we have nothing to do in establishing its fact. If you make the Gospel out to be dependent upon our doing something, then did we do it well enough? When another person’s opinions differ from ours on the topic, then whose way of doing it is right (wars were fought over this)? And, if it is dependent upon me or my faithfulness then is it possible to mess it up or lose it? Because salvation is God’s work on our behalf with supernatural resurrection power, the answer is NO to all of the above. He saves all of us in the same way – God in Christ is offering it to you as a gift to simply receive by faith. Ephesians is clear; “it is a gift of God, not by works, lest you should boast.” Titus is clear; “it is not by works of righteousness which you have done, but by his mercy.” Galatians is clear; “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Romans is clear; “the just shall live by faith” and “all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So if the Gospel is so straight forward, then why are there so many divisions? Men are making salvation about us and our responsibility rather than about God’s work on our behalf. Thus we argue over whose way of getting saved is right. Consequently we have divisions in the church.
Divisions in the Church
1 Cor 1: 10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who Are You Lord?
I AM the God of Unity but that unity is focused on the person and work of Jesus which is the Gospel. As you all focus on me and what I did for you, the more you will see your commonality with one another within the church. Conversely when you get your eyes off of me and what I did for you, the more you will be drawn away from each other as you get carried away by all kinds of doctrines and circumstances – Satan will see to that, as a house divided cannot stand. (See Rom 14,15.)
I AM the God of power not procedures, formulas and rituals. You are free from all Law for righteousness. My Divine life in you comes from my Spirit working through you and not your various methods of attaining spirituality by human effort. When you replace my spirit’s control with your reliance on procedures, you succumb to religion. “Not by depending on your puny physical abilities, or by reliance on your own wisdom but by the resurrection power of my Spirit says the Lord Almighty”- (Steve’s paraphrase). Like my servant Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”1 Cor 2:4, 5
“We agree to disagree agreeably”
This statement can be true as long as it does not pertain to the true Gospel which Paul taught. We are not all going to see eye to eye on every subject of scriptural interpretation and practice (see Rom chapters 14, 15). This is why it is imperative that we focus on the true Gospel and like Paul says “I would know nothing of you except Christ and him crucified.” Everyone has a different part to play in the Church and everyone has a different prompting of the Holy Spirit pertaining to the living out of their salvation. That is OK as long as our understanding of the Gospel is based on what He did for us not what we do for him. According to this passage, God desires unity in heart and mind of his children. Even though we are all of the same fallible cookie dough, his Gospel will be worked out in us differently from culture to culture and not necessarily with a cookie cutter mentality. If you don’t know Paul’s Gospel of Grace by faith, you are in danger of being carried off by a different Gospel other than the one Paul preached and consequently receiving damnation – read Galatians ch 1. If you are reliant upon it as Paul presented it, then you have a valuable contribution to make to the understanding of his grace working in you for the benefit of other believers around the globe.
Some insist on “Baptismal regeneration” meaning that unless you are baptized, you are not saved. If that is a true, then Paul’s statement in this passage says that he is glad that he has not “baptize many of them” thus he is glad that he has not “saved many of them”. Baptism has been around much longer than Christianity. In the early church, Baptism was part and parcel of your testimony of salvation; so much so, that the terms were almost interchangeable. However, your salvation is not based on your baptism. It is just the public declaration that you identify with a certain message. John the Baptist baptized the Jews for the repentance of sins. Jesus was baptized to validate John’s message, not to repent of any sin of his own. If you add anything to the Gospel of grace by faith, you are saying that Christ (God incarnate) is not capable of doing it himself so that he needs your help. Did the thief on the cross do or promise anything to get himself remembered to the father? Did Jesus tell him to get baptized? Obey the law? Go to synagogue? No. The thief knew that he was a sinner, he knew who Jesus really was, and he asked God to remember him. The same process is for us today. We are to realize that we are sinners, know who Jesus really is and what he has done for us, and simply trust in Christ’s finished work of salvation on our behalf. Only then do we get baptized to testify to others that we died with him, were buried with him, were raised to life again with him and are now seated positionally next to the Father “in him”. Those are the positional truths of the Gospel which we don’t have to do anything but receive by faith to be true of us so that we cannot mess it up.
More to come,