PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXXIX
Jesus’ servants shall find hurdles and obstacles in the way to save the lost. Sin, for man has become part of his/her life and they feel content to be called sinners. Man has concluded that he is what he is by nature a sinner that he/she cannot change, and they love the idea that if they leave it to Jesus, He will take care of everything. Friend, that is a theory man has invented. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). And as you have been told over and over, that if you or I do not forgive those who sin against us, we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). The sin against God is also the sin against each other. David’s sin with Bathsheba was against God (Psalm 41:4). The men who brought a woman to Jesus to be stoned, should have been stoned themselves on the spot. The woman could not have sinned against herself without inducement from the men (John 8:1-11). Jesus was not tolerant with the teachers who were too hasty in applying the law for their benefit. How many have become judges just to hide their own iniquities? Does our fruit or product convince sinners that we are indeed followers of Jesus? It is man that sins and it is man who must remit and recline and even repay for his sin.
JESUS CHARGED THE DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS TO THE TEACHERS AND LEADERS
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matthew 23:27-28).
Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation come, but woe to the man by whom the temptations comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:7-14).
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:37-42).
CAN WE MANIFEST WITHOUT WORKS THAT WE ARE SAVED THROUGH FAITH BY GRACE?
Ephesians 2:1-10, supposes to propound that man can be saved by grace without works. The text itself requires faith for grace to succeed, and man has to be regenerated to do good works. Then there is a problem of authorship and the recipients themselves. It is a superb imitation of Paul and even goes a step beyond, but the Church, itself, gave Paul much trouble and the Holy Spirit censured it severely. Ephesus was Apollos’ mission and Paul’s Pentecost, until the idol makers revolted and endangered Paul and Silas’ lives. On his way back to Jerusalem, Paul avoided entering Ephesus (Acts 19-20). When the Holy Spirit commissioned John to write to the Ephesians, They had buried themselves in work for the wrong reason and neglected the main reason for their redemptive mission. In spite of their material and physical success, they were losing ground for their lack of love. All the members had left was to hang on to grace!
‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’” (Revelation 2:2-7).
Ephesians represents the opinion of one man and it restricts the possibilities of God (Mark 10:26-27). Now, what about the people Jesus recognized for loving others without being followers of Jesus, like the sheep in Matthew 25:34-40, or the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, or the man casting out demons in Mark 9:38-4, and what about the merciless servant in Matthew 18:23-35? Then, Jesus uttered these words:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:7).
The foundation of grace is love that makes the impossible possible: like forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration and endless possibilities God in Christ grants. Can grace be any larger than the love of God the Father? Who can practice grace without love?
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God (John 3:16-21).
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed Jesus. And as he sat at table in the house (of Matthew Levi), behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. God and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:9-13).
LET US ASK THE THREE PILLARS OF THE FIRST CHURCH
The three pillars, according to Paul, were James, Peter, and John (Galatians 2:9). These pillars, and including the Gentile pillar Paul, appear not to be aware of any grace that requires no human efforts. How can a soul or spirit qualify for heaven without a body? It is a puzzle how a human can believe, repent, and function at the command of the Holy Spirit without a vehicle to transport it. Now, to James faith without works or deeds that honor God and serve man is dead. To Peter, only deeds measure human worthiness, and to John, love that does not serve the needy is a lie.
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has no works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for their body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2:14-17).
Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (I Peter 1:13-17).
By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth (John 3:16-18).
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the price? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do no box as one beating in the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
For I (Paul) am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (II Timothy 4:6-8).
Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escaped the judgment of God? Or do you presume upon the riches of His (God’s) kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hand and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For He will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, for the Jew first and also for the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good. The Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality (Romans 2:3-11).
For that reason, all of us must: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).