(in process…much good material here, but more to come)
QUOTES TO PONDER:
- “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7*
- “Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” 1 John 5:1-4
- “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ….Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Eph. 5:1,2, 25-27
- “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” Revelation 22:12 (see also Ecclesiastes 12:14, Romans 2:6).
- “1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. 4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead.8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. 1 Peter 4:1-5,8-11*
In the Bible you will see 3 sets of verses regarding salvation, faith, grace, works, law and rewards. God states in numerous verses (some listed below) principles regarding:
A) JUSTIFICATION: Salvation is completely free based on faith in Jesus’ unrivaled sacrifice of love on the cross through grace and
B) SANCTIFICATION: Genuine grace and belief in God who has created us, died for our sins and offers us eternal life, inspires and motivates us to more perfectly obey God’s truths, grace, mercy and laws in our daily lives because
1) We want to honor our Creator and His love for us, never dishonor Him. Since all sin is slavery (Romans 6:16) and harms people in various ways, it always dishonors His desire for us and all humanity to be free.
2) We do not cause any harm to our relationship with God or any being He has created and we know that all sin causes harm.
3) We want to experience the highest level of freedom, happiness, success and more for ourselves, our families, churches, community, nation and world. God says this comes by following His laws.
4) We want to experience the highest level of freedom, happiness, success and more for ourselves, our families, churches, community, nation and world. God says this comes by following His laws.
5) We want to be able to testify to others about the benefits of living life God’s way.
6) Hebrews 10:26-31 says that those who consistently rebel against God’s truths/laws*** cancel grace and will be condemned in hell.
7) We want to attract others to accepting eternal life for themselves.
C) REWARDS: Every good work is rewarded in heaven and/or on earth.
These concepts appear contradictory to western minds since how can something be free if you have to do something as part of it. And if it’s free, why are you rewarded for it? It is really hard for some minds to wrap themselves around this.
The wonderful science of salvation combines concepts that at first seem to be very contradictory, but history and science shows that all 3 of these concepts and every Bible verse supporting them below are very important to bring about the best life and the least harm for every person and the most people on the planet. This is always the goal of God’s love, truth and laws.
It’s important to test everything that is said (as 1 Thess. 5:21,15 instructs), including things in our own culture that we often take for granted. So let’s look at the issue of contradiction a little. One of the problems is that most people have grown up thinking of Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction as absolute. But this just isn’t true. Graham Priest is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at City University of New York and says,
“The principle of noncontradiction says that you can never accept a contradiction. [It] has been high orthodoxy…since Aristotle… mounted a spirited defense of it in his “Metaphysics”… …You might think that since Aristotle’s defense established the principle in Western philosophy, his arguments must have been pretty good. Were they? No. The main argument is so tortured that experts can’t even agree on how it is meant to work, let alone that it works… virtually everything else that Aristotle ever defended has been overthrown — or at least seriously challenged. The principle of noncontradiction is, it would seem, the last bastion! ..But the fact that it is rational to accept some contradictions does not mean that it is rational to accept any contradiction…We have, then, quite good general grounds for rejecting a contradiction we come across. But of course, those general grounds may be trumped on the occasions where we do have good reason to believe that the contradiction is true — as with the Liar Paradox.”
Paradoxical Truth by Graham Priest. opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/paradoxical-truth/?_r=0. November 28, 2010.
One of Satan’s more sophisticated deceptions throughout history has been to get people to choose only part of the truth and mix it with errors and ignore crucial truths and verses so they only think about those that are comfortable He has been doing this since Eden. For the Greeks, it was foolishness to think that a God would die on a cross. The Jews made a similar tragic error and cherry picked only the verses about the Messiah that showed Him conquering enemies and ignored the ones that showed him suffering and dying for sins. This resulted in the tragic destruction of their nation. Jesus explained the full truth, going through all the verses about the role of the Messiah in Luke 24:25-7 and keeping all in balance showing that both types of verses were true (just at different times). In any truth, it is important that we look at all verses, or at least all the major ones on a doctrine in order not to make the same disastrous mistakes the Jews and Greeks did.
Here are the three categories of verses (and I’ve included a link so you can be a good Berean and read them for yourself).
A) JUSTIFICATION: We can be justified and gain eternal life by faith through grace based on Jesus’ sacrifice alone: Genesis 15:6, Isaiah 64:6, Habakkuk 2:4/Romans 1:17, John 3:16, Rom. 3:28; 4:5; Eph. 2:8,9; 1 John 1:8-9, 1 John 2:12 and many more.
“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Genesis 15:6 (NLT)
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)
“But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” Habakkuk 2:4
“This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.” Romans 1:17
“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” Galatians 2:21
“For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.” Galatians 5:4
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
B) SANCTIFICATION: Once we become believers, we are instructed to live holy lives, to do all we can to imitate Jesus, do good to every person and all people and follow His principles of grace, mercy and laws of love and freedom.
Genesis 6:9， Deut. 4:1-8, 1 Samuel 7:4, 2 Samuel 8:15 2 Kings 20:2, Nehemiah 5:14-19, Job 6:24,28-30, Job 27:1-6, Joshua 14:14, Psalms 119:44-45,Matthew 3:8,9/Luke 3:8, Matt. 5:18-19, 7:21, Matthew 5:48, John 13:35, John 14:15,21, John 14:15,21, Acts 26:20, Romans 2:13, Romans 13:8-10, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Cor. 11:1, 2 Corinthians 6:6, Galatians 2:21, 1 Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:31, Eph. 5:1,2, 25-27, Phil. 2:15, Colossians 1:22, Colossians 1:28-29,James 1:25, James 2:8-12, James 2:24, 1 Thess. 5:15, 21, 1 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 2:2, 1 John 3:2-9, 1 John 3:14, 3 John 1:11, Jude 3,4, Rev. 12:17;14:12
EXAMPLES: “If you love me, obey my commandments…. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.” John 14:15,21
“…Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” 1 John 5:1-4
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”[a] These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8-10
The Bible repeatedly instructed to imitate Jesus and those who love and obey him in good works.
“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ….Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Eph. 5:1,2, 25-27
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
God states that this is a proof that we are really true believers and have had a heart change.
“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.” Matthew 3:8,9 (also Luke 3:8)
“I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.” Acts 26:20
“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 1 Peter 2:1
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Ephesians 4:31
C) JUDGEMENT: Numerous verses state that we will be rewarded or judged for every work that we have done:
1 Samuel 26:23, 2 Samuel 22:21, Job 20:29, Psalm 18:20,24, Psalm 58:11, Psalm 91:16 , Proverbs 11:23,31, Matt. 6:1, 16:27; Mark 10:30-1, Matt. 10:40-42, Matt. 16:27; Jn. 5:28,29; Romans 2:6-7, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Timothy 4:14, 1 Peter 1:17, Revelation 20:11-15; Rev. 22:12.
“Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.” Ezekiel 18:20
“The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal.” 1 Samuel 26:23
“He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.” Romans 2:6-8
If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God,[a] you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:41-42 (NLT)
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.” 2 John 1:8
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. Revelation 22:12 (see also Ecclesiastes 12:14, Romans 2:6).
Can you reconcile all those verses in a harmonious way? You have to in order to have a true doctrine.
(EXTRAS TO ORGANIZE)
True grace helps us realize that all godliness is for the purpose of benefiting humanity. Often it’s all humanity, but sometimes it’s communities, churches, believers or unbelievers. Once we understand God’s incredible grace for us in paying the penalty of sin and that He is the Creator of all humanity and that all sin is slavery and harmful to some or many of His creatures, we will hate and despise all sin and lawbreaking and ask for God’s help in overcoming it. We will understand that all laws are based on the 2 great commandments of love to God and love to man. We will recognize that every time we disobey any law, we are doing things that harm other human beings and that it can have generational effects. There is always forgiveness when we have been duped and deceived into committing sin if we genuinely wish to turn away from evil. God also understands extreme cases, such as abuse or times of persecution where extreme measures may be necessary. But if we try to make all decisions for the good of each person and all people and confess when we have failed, we are God’s children and He forgives our sins and winks at our ignorance.
In the opening paragraph of his famous work “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection,” John Wesley wrote: There is scarce any expression in holy writ, which has given more offence than this. The word perfect is what many cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them;and whosoever preaches perfection, (as the phrase is,) that is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican.1
EXTRAS TO ADD SOON (respond to this):
“There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone” (Ellen White, Faith and Works, p. 19)…
Where there is no grace, there will be no true obedience. There may be an outward compliance to the law, but that isn’t obedience. Legalism isn’t obedience. It’s rebellion wearing a mask of obedience…
Ellen White sees no danger in preaching, without reserve or qualification, that there is absolutely no value in obedience for salvation, and this is why she is completely comfortable in placing the weight of our preaching emphasis on the good news of what God has done for us in Christ. She explained the idea like this: “The theme that attracts the heart of the sinner is Christ and Him crucified. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus stands revealed to the world in unparalleled love. Present Him thus to the hungering multitudes and the light of His love will win men from darkness to light, from transgression to obedience and true holiness” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892)….
When it comes to salvation, there is no such thing as God’s part and my part. All there is, is God’s part. The total reality of my salvation is His accomplishment. I have no part at all in achieving my salvation. God did it all in Christ. That’s the good news, and anything less isn’t good news at all, but merely good advice, which leaves me with a sense of self-serving obligation to obey, but without any internal power to actually obey….
Comprehending the powerful dynamic of the gospel, Ellen White insisted that when you “see the matchless charms of Jesus,” an amazing thing will happen in your heart: “You will fall in love with the Man of Calvary” (Ellen White, Life Sketches, p. 293).
THE TRUE GOSPEL RELIEVES THE CONSCIENCE OF ITS GUILT AND SIMULTANEOUSLY AWAKENS THE WILL TO HEARTFELT OBEDIENCE.
“Fall in love”? Is that the language she used? Yes it is! Because she understood the gospel as articulated by Paul. She understood that righteousness only comes by faith, and faith is only energized by vital contact with God’s love in Christ…You can know you are under the influence of the true gospel of Christ when you believe with complete liberty that there is no merit whatsoever in obedience … and yet you want to obey … because you are in love with God … because He first loved you.