Is my Faith Genuine?

I felt to blog my current understanding of Salvation – the Christian journey – and what it means to be “saved”.

If you have read any of my other posts, you will see that I have grappled with making sense of God’s gift of Salvation and redemption, when considering the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word, with verses like:

Without Holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14)

– Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mat 7:21-23)

…against the current prevalent teaching in large parts of the church that “Jesus did it all for me on the cross, and there is nothing I need to do except believe that I am made right with God”.

Well, Jesus did do it all on the cross and when I put my Faith in Him at that time (confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that He died and rose again – Rom 9:10), then I was Justified or “made right” with God.  The penalty was paid for all my sins by Jesus who freely gave His own life for me.

However, I was not transformed in the blink of an eye into the new creation that the Word talks about, because this is a process called Sanctification.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17).  But did you note the condition: “if anyone is in Christ”?

And…Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. (1 John 3:6 NET)

I have come to strongly believe, based on the Word of God, that Sanctification is needed before we can “be in Christ”, and that sanctification is not an optional part of Salvation, but rather, is a key part of it.

So I asked God to show me in the Word, proof of my hypothesis that Sanctification is a key requirement of salvation.  Then He showed me this verse from James:

Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NET)

James talks about genuine faith being evident in an external way. (But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works – James 2:18).

So it would seem that the Word of God says that it’s not by faith alone that we are saved (this is the start), but it’s by (genuine) faith, in conjunction with grace (which the Strongs Concordance defines as “a divine influence on the heart, with its outworking in the life”), where the grace enables us to overcome the temptations and sin.  And then, after being tested and passing this test, we inherit the crown of life. (James 1:12).

So the teaching that says: “Jesus died on the cross, took all my punishment and sin and shame and now God sees me as righteous. There is nothing I need to do except believe because it has all been done for me”, is a dangerous and false one that actually encourages sin.  (Even if inadvertently or subtly, because it denies the opportunity for believers to examine the “brutal facts” of where their life is at in their walk with God).

So according to the scriptures, FAITH is one element of salvation, but if it’s missing the SANCTIFICATION element, our faith may not be genuine and our salvation and inheritance of eternal life (according to James 1:12) will not be there either.

You see, sanctification requires that we acknowledge the “brutal facts” of where we are at, but at the same time maintain an absolute faith that Jesus will complete the work He started in us and save us (remember: there are 3 tenses of salvation: we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved https://lifebythespirit.org/2009/11/23/when-are-we-actually-saved/).

So we know we have been justified by faith, but genuine faith will lead to sanctification by relationship with Holy Spirit, and produce good fruit and eternal life.  Genuine faith will production actions that are consistent with our proclaimed “faith”.  Remember that He is faithful to complete the work He started in you (Phil 1:6).

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).

Also see: https://lifebythespirit.org/2013/01/21/are-we-still-under-the-law-of-god/ and https://lifebythespirit.org/2012/05/07/the-secret-of-salvation/.

Thy Kingdom come!

The other day God revealed to me that the Kingdom of God is within us!  Even though I had read this in scripture before, I didn’t really get it.  The revelation that I had was this: God’s Kingdom is His reign and rule in our lives, and we can have it now!  Just like the Pharasies who were waiting for a physical kingdom to come in their day, so too was I thinking that the Kingdom of God = Heaven.  Wrong.  Heaven is a place, and the Kingdom of God is His reign and rule.  I mean, the Kingdom of God will be operating in Heaven, but “thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven”.

Read in Luke 17:20-21:  Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The thing that really blew me away with all of this is that it now makes total sense how come the Word can say things like 1 Cor 6:9-10:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

I used to think that this meant that those who practise such things were going to hell – and they might if they don’t repent and turn to Jesus, but of course they won’t inherit the Kingdom of God whilst practising these things – because this isn’t God’s rule and reign in your life!  Quite the opposite in fact!

Point to pray about: does this explain the apparent paradox between salvation (being saved, going to Heaven) and entering the Kingdom of God?  Are they two different things?  I don’t know yet.  Something to pray into.

When are we actually saved?

So I’ve prayed the sinners prayer (Holy Spirit has enabled this), been baptised, accepted Jesus as Lord as Saviour, and now I am trying to walk it out.  But I have a problem.  There is sin in my life that the bible says if it is there, I will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

1 Cor 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

So does this mean that I am not saved?  How do I get washed and sanctified (by the Spirit of our God).

Here is what I believe God has shown me on this:

1) When we start our Christian walk, contrary to main stream teaching, we may not actually be saved at that moment.

2) However, we KNOW that we ARE saved, because we have FAITH that “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).

3) God then uses OUR faith in Him (to complete His work in us), to grant us GRACE (and repentance), which is the POWER to be free from sin, and to grow into His likeness and be SANCTIFIED to serve Him acceptably. Heb 12:28 “Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably.”

Also remember that God sits outside of time, and can see the beginning from the end
instantly – so He knows who is true and who is not, upfront.

Phil 2:12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”

Further, notice that salvation is a “hope”: 1 Thes 5:6 “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at
night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day,
let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope
of salvation as a helmet.”

In other words, salvation requires FAITH, and it is the FAITH that God will complete the work in us He started!  We can’t just “claim” the helmet of salvation – to wear it, it requires that we have HOPE.

This explains the apparent paradox of sin in a Christian’s life, yet being able to be completely confident of salvation!  i.e. the thing that I could never understand was “how can I be saved when I have this bad fruit in my life”?  I will be saved because I have FAITH that Jesus will complete His work in me, giving me GRACE to overcome, thereby sanctifying me and transforming me in to His likeness!

From a source online: “Justification is instantaneous; sanctification is a long growth. Justification is the act of God whereby He takes a man who is dead in trespasses and sins and says, ‘I create within you the new life of Christ and now I look upon you and see you just as perfect as I see the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Justification is the act of God whereby he declares an ungodly man to be perfect while he is still ungodly. It is as extraordinary a thing as if you were able to say that the caterpillar is really a beautiful butterfly. ‘Oh,’ you say, ‘but it isn’t! It still looks like a caterpillar.’ Well, that is exactly what God does with us. He comes to us in our “caterpillar status” and declares us to be “butterflies.” In reality, that is what happens in nature, too; that caterpillar does become a butterfly. For God has given us this remarkable picture of metamorphosis-that which goes into the cocoon as a worm comes out as a butterfly, for it lives part of its life in one state and part in another. We call this process metamorphosis. It is very interesting to note the Greek word used in Rom.12:2 : ‘Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed (metamorphosed) by the renewing of your mind.'” [1]
2000+ Bible Illustrations, Ibid

3 Tenses of Salvation: 

Past
“…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5

“even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Eph. 2:5-8

Present
“…and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain”. 1 Cor. 15:2

Future
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God”. Romans 5:9

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:17-18

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1 Cor. 15:1-5

 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Cor. 2:14-16