"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
We come now in our series on the fruit of the Spirit to kindness, or as the King James Version translates the word, “gentleness” (Gal. 5:22). This is a quality of character that needs little defining. We generally understand kindness because we want others to be kind to us. The word itself means “serviceable, good, pleasant, gracious” (Vine). Kindness is a graciousness of heart that is ready to serve others.
As with the rest of the fruit of the Spirit, God has set the example of kindness for us to follow. He is even “kind to the unthankful and evil,” and he expects us to be, too (Lk. 6:35). It is much easier to be kind toward someone who appreciates our kindness and responds in kind. To become more like God and to bear the fruit of the Spirit we will have to devote our attention to being kind even toward those who treat us with contempt (see Lk. 6:27-36). Kindness may be easily understood, but it is not always easily practiced.
When one puts on a heart of kindness he adorns himself with a noble trait (Col. 3:12). Kindness is universally appreciated. Hospitality, for instance, is one of the natural outgrowths of kindness (Acts 28:2). The manner of one’s speech will often show the presence or reveal the absence of kindness in one’s heart (Prov. 31:26). A person’s kindness draws us to him in warm admiration (Prov. 19:22). Having received kindness prompts the righteous to resolve to show kindness (1 Chron. 19:1-2). Without question, kindness is an expression of love (1 Cor. 13:4).
If any group of people should be kind to each other it is Christians (Eph. 4:32). Our readiness to serve the needs of one another grows out of our knowledge of and gratitude for God’s kindness shown to us by forgiving our sins in Christ. Brotherly kindness has a unifying and strength-enhancing quality (2 Pet. 1:7; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32). Furthermore, kindness helps us be better husbands and wives (1 Pet. 3:7); it helps us be better neighbors (Lk. 10:33-34); it is an asset in every area of life. By kindness we show ourselves to be servants of God (2 Cor. 6:4-6). So, look for your opportunities to be kind. They won’t be hard to find.
Member of the Baptist Church, along with those of any number of other Protestant denominations, hold the conviction that “salvation by grace through faith alone forever.” Let’s examine this familiar statement from the word of God.
Salvation is certainly “by grace, through faith,” for the Scriptures say:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
The grace of God is available to sinners in Christ Jesus – without Jesus we cannot be saved (2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 2:11; Acts 4:12). We agree with the Baptists on this because the Baptists agree with the Bible.
We part company with the Baptist when he says that salvation is “through faith alone,” because with that statement he adds a word to Ephesians 2:8. It does not say “saved through faith alone.” We cannot add even one word to God’s word (Rev. 22:18). The doctrine is wrong for this reason, if none other (Gal. 1:6-9). But there are certainly additional reasons the doctrine of salvation “through faith alone” is wrong: (1) it denies the nature of saving faith, which actively trusts God in obedience (Jas. 2:14-26); (2) it denies that faith is a “work” that Jesus says we must do (Jn. 6:28-29); (3) it denies the need for other commanded actions by man, for instance, (a) confessing faith (Jn. 12:42), (b) repenting of sins (Acts 17:30-31) and (c) being baptized (Mk. 16:16). Each one of these are actions of faith. Without them, faith does not save.
When Scripture joins together “works” with “faith” to accomplish salvation it is not approving works of merit; “faith at work” does not earn salvation (Eph. 2:9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Gal. 5:6). No sinner will ever earn his salvation, for it is “by grace” (undeserved, unmerited favor from God). But, as “unprofitable servants” we must obey and do “what was our duty to do” (Lk. 17:10).
Faith that is “working” is nothing other than “obeying the truth,” and is what the apostle describes as “running well” and availing in Christ (Gal. 5:6-7). Like the Scriptures, when we speak here of “works” that influence salvation, we speak of obedience to Jesus (the action of a faithful servant) – not works of merit that “earn” salvation (Matt. 7:21).
We are not saved through “faith alone.” We are saved by the kind of faith described in James 2:14-26: a working (obedient) faith – not meritorious, but submissive, in nature.
1. Faith alone (without works) is profitless to save (2:14). God saves “through faith,” but this verse says faith that does not have works does not save. Therefore, “faith alone” cannot save. To be saved, our faith must “work” (we must obey the Lord).
2. Faith alone (without works) is dead (Jas. 2:17-20, 26). Faith without obedience is just as dead as a body without the spirit.
3. Faith alone (without works) cannot be seen (Jas. 2:18). Faith without obedience is saying you have faith while not living by faith. Faith cannot be seen when it is alone. Faith that is alone does not save.
4. Faith alone (without works) is the faith of demons (Jas. 2:19). What do you do more than demons when you say “I believe” and yet do not obey Jesus? Not one thing.
5. Faith alone (without works) is incomplete (Jas. 2:21-22). Abraham’s faith was not whole until “he offered Isaac his son on the altar.” Our faith is not whole until we do our duty and obey the Lord (Lk. 17:10).
6. Faith alone (without works) is not counted for righteousness (Jas. 2:22-23). God regarded Abraham’s obedient faith and counted it for righteousness. Nothing less will be accepted from us today.
7. Faith alone (without works) does not justify (Jas. 2:24). “Man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” The alien Rahab was justified (saved) by works, and the alien sinner is justified by works, too (Jas. 2:25-26); not by works of merit, but works of faith – actions of obedience (see Matt. 7:21).
The Baptist says, “Salvation is by grace through faith alone forever,” meaning once you are saved you are forever saved and cannot be lost. He thinks a Christian can sin, but the Christian’s sin will not cause him to be lost. He believes once in grace, always in grace and chides those who believe otherwise. But, we will believe and try to persuade our Baptist friends to accept what the Bible says: Christians have “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4); they can “fall away” when tempted (Lk. 8:13); and some will “depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1; cf. Heb. 3:12-13).
Obeying Jesus is not earning
salvation. Obedience is not salvation by works of merit; it is “faith
working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Faith without works is dead. Having been
saved by faith, one stands in grace by remaining faithful, otherwise, “you
also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). “Salvation through faith alone forever”
is not Bible doctrine.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Acts 13:4-12
1. NT speaks of personal faith &
a system of faith, Heb. 11:1, 6; 2 Tim. 4:7; Rom. 1:16-17.
I. WHAT IS “THE FAITH”? – Acts 13:5-12 (Word of God, the faith, all righteousness, straight ways of the Lord, teaching of the Lord)
Gospel – Gal. 1:11, 23; Preached, Mk. 16:15; Col. 1:23.
II. THE FAITH WAS ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED – Jude 3.
Faith Justifies, Gal. 2:16 (when the faith is believed & obeyed).
III. THE FAITH WAS DELIVERED TO PRODUCE PERSONAL FAITH – Rom. 1:16-17.
Faith Can & Must be Preached – Gal. 1:23; Acts 24:24 (the faith must be
heard – Gal. 3:2).
The Shroud of
The Shroud of Turin was in the news again this week. The linen shroud is the property of the Catholic Church and is locked away in the Turin Cathedral in Italy. Raymond N. Rogers, a scientist with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico published a paper this week in which he argues the shroud dates back, not to the 13-14th centuries (as was concluded by radioactive dating done in 1988), but much earlier. Based on his analysis, Rogers says the shroud could be 1,300 to 3,000 years old (“Scientist Says Turin Shroud Not a Medieval Fake,” 28Jan05, www.reuters.com).
Some believe the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. The Bible believer does not. The reason? The Bible disproves the claim that this shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus in one simple passage: “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7).
The Shroud of Turin is one piece of linen from head to foot; the body of Jesus was wrapped with one piece of cloth and the head with another piece. This was the common burial method of that day in Judea (see John 11:44, where the body of Lazarus was similarly wrapped). Whatever body this shroud wrapped, whenever the burial occurred and however the image came to be on it, it was not the body of Jesus. There is simply no direct evidence linking this shroud to the actual burial of Jesus, only speculation. Period. Even the Catholic Church does not claim the shroud (which is believed to have been brought to Europe from the Middle East during the Crusades in the mid-14th century) is authentic.
Religious relics, icons and images promote superstition, not faith (Acts 17:22-23). Faith is produced by God’s word (Rom. 10:17).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA