The Anti-Gospel: Works Without Faith.
Now, How Did That Old Saying Go?
Warning, an Old Enemy is Afoot
In the early years of Christianity, the fledgling Church was beset by many false teachers and teachings looking to take personal advantage of the new "religious" upstart. This included the agnostics (human experience only vs the spiritual) and the Judaizers (Gentiles could not be true Christians unless they followed certain precepts of the Mosaic law). The agnostics have been a pain in our side for nearly 2,000 years but the Judaizers after a long "quiet" existence since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. are back with a vengeance.
The books of Romans and Galatians addressed this issue of the Judiazers very intensely (more than 110 times the word law nomos3551is used - more than the total for the rest of the New Testament). It is a very crippling doctrine as it impugns the doctrines of grace and faith. When the temple was destroyed, it took the wind out of their sails; for as long as Herod's temple remained, they had a basis for their argument. Why now? I believe Satan knows that the times are at hand and he will use every weapon in his arsenal of deception. Currently, Israel is seeing conflicting movements among the Jewish people: a resurging nationalism worldwide and the growing voice of the Messianic Jews. As in America, we have a great portion of this country that demonstrates openly our nationalistic pride yet we have a widening gap between the religious freedom for Christians and the State's the moral dictates.
Since I am an adherent of the absolute sovereignty of God, He is in control and these aberrations of doctrine will accomplish one of two things: 1) separate the wheat from the chaff and 2) strengthen the true believer including the babe in Christ who might be susceptible to untoward doctrine.
Note: why don't the Judaizers also demand untrimmed beards, sacrificing of animals, the ordinances of "unclean" bodily discharges, trespass offerings, tattoos, body piercing, etc.? Maybe they are restricted by workplace dress and attendance rules, city ordinances of animal slaughter and the like. they actually pick and chose what they want to bark about because the rest is not convenient.
Everybody Loves Kermit
How to Soft Sell Your False Doctrine
Yes, using Kermit the Frog of Sesame Street and motion picture fame will grab your attention almost immediately. A current media site is using Kermit as a seeker of Christianity but has "serious" questions that cross his path, such as: why he cannot find anywhere in the Bible where we are told it is okay to eat pork, though I don't think Miss Piggy would mind or he cannot find Sunday worship mentioned. Both, according to the Judaizers are blatant examples of people who are not true believers. I will only address these two issues for the moment.
As to pork or anything else unclean. Acts 10 concerning Peter's vision of the "common" and "unclean" animals that God commanded Peter to both kill and eat and his refusal to do so led to God rebuking Peter by saying, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." God had to repeat this three times, for Peter was a truly sold out orthodox Jew first. It wasn't until he met with Cornelius and his family that he finally got heaven's message. It is not what we eat that makes us in good standing with Jesus but His saving grace alone.
Concerning the sabbath and our Lord of the Sabbath who said, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:". Jesus taught continually against the Pharisee's view of the sabbath, giving them examples of the freedom men enjoyed to do good works even within the Mosaic law. What the legalistic don't seem to realize is that not all can celebrate a pure Jewish sabbath due to their vocations. The priests and Levites are very busy on the sabbath and those who man the borders of their land are ever vigilant, in spite of it being the sabbath. I love a quote by John Albert Bengel (circa 1864) which addresses the position of the believer quite well: "A stated day is useful and necessary to those engrossed in worldly concerns. They who keep a continual sabbath enjoy greater freedom." We are a people with incredible freedom; why would anyone listen to someone who wants them to live a life shackled to the Law. It is truly salvation as the results of works not of grace and faith.
Colossians 2:16 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon or of the sabbath days:"
Remember, that most of the believers for the last 2,000 years are due to the witness of countless pork eating and Sunday worshipping born-again heathens: just like you and I.
A Cartload of Good Works - Fruit
What Will We Take to the Grave?
Why Works Must Follow, Not Lead
I do not want to preach to the choir, but maybe not all who read this are members of the choir. All the religions of the world are based upon works first, and sadly many who masquerade as a Christian religion/denomination are just as guilty. There are some great and good works being done by non-believers: hospitals and clinics in the name of religion, food and clothing banks, counseling and educational services, financial assistance, adoption and foster child agencies and look at the public support and volunteering during times of disaster. People really want to be known as a "good" person with a motive of feeling good about themselves and an ulterior motive of being good enough come judgment day. Sadly, it is a losing proposition. A grave marker to remember one by and their "good" works though only in the beholder's memories.
As Hebrews 11:6 states, "it is impossible to please God without faith", does this mean that all those who believe that their works establish their faith are displeasing to Him while doing good works? When the day arrives that they finally acquire the necessary faith, then and only then will their works be pleasing to God. Paul in Philippians 3 counted all of his good works prior to his encounter with our Lord as dung, worthless. Faith must be the initial ingredient; but how does one acquire faith without good works?
Ephesians 2:8 teaches us that the faith that saves is a gift from God. Freely given according to His grace and His eternal purposes and so that NOT one person could ever boast as to their worthiness to receive such an unbelievable gift. Such as:
- Rahab of Jericho in Joshua 2 received a gift of faith to receive the spies and defy the king's messengers. Her good work was the result of her receiving the gift of faith. Hebrews 11:31
- Seven thousand received the gift of faith and would not bow their knees before Baal and God claimed them as His own. 1 Kings 19:18
- By faith, King David defeated Goliath and was known as a man after God's own heart.
My testimony: as a young Marine, I had heard the message of salvation many times and thought it all to be hooey. Personal tragedy forced me to seek out someone I trusted, in whom I might confide. The evening of September 19, 1968, the proverbial Light came on when God showered me with a healthy dose of faith and the Word finally made sense to me after all those years of pure ignorance. It was then and only then, when I decided I wanted to do that which is pleasing to God. I truly understand that nothing, absolutely nothing in my life prior to salvation is of any value whatsoever.
Volumes have been written upon the doctrine of election by grace of which I do believe, but I just want to be simple and practical.
- We are so easily duped by another's apparent works, but we as believers must be known by our works, for faith always results in good works.
- As a Christian I want to be remembered first by God then by family, friends and my church assembly.
- The greatest work that we can do this side of heaven is to be known for our love for one another, including our love for our neighbors, the hurting and the lost of this world.
Remember, the lost need the Word in all its power, which at times may seem harsh, as opposed to the new kinder gentler gospel that is seemingly destroying the true witness of the church today.