Wednesday, November 30 2022

Bible Reading for: November 24

Acts 15-16

A Christian knows they are saved if when they commit a sin it hurts. When you stumble in sin I hope it hurts a lot for by that pain I know you are saved.

Yesterday, when we read in the book of James, we heard James say that faith without works is dead. We also know from the Bible that works cannot save you or give you life. To this day, there is virulent disagreement about works and faith within the body of Christ. There are some who believe that one can lose their salvation if they don’t do enough good works. There are others who believe that you cannot lose your salvation even if you commit unspeakable sin. In my opinion, both of these extreme perspectives are a little off the mark. Before I get into that, however, let’s look at today’s reading and what Peter had to say on the subject.

Here in Acts, we read of a debate among the first believers as to whether or not Gentiles needed to be circumcised and follow the Laws of Moses to be saved. After much deliberation Peter got up to speak and I love what he had to say.

Acts 15:7-11 ESV
“And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

As I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog, the Law is a yoke, an implement of slavery, which no man is able to bear in his own strength and ability. Obedience to the Law of Moses can’t save you because you can’t obey it. You are saved through the grace of God. You cannot earn salvation, if you could it would be by your own effort and not by grace. You can’t have salvation by effort and grace, it must be one or the other, and as we’ve seen, it can’t be by effort.

This clearly means that you cannot earn your salvation by works nor keep it by works, if you could, God’s grace would not be sufficient. But what about losing your salvation? Can you lose it?

John 10:27-30 ESV
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Does that sound like you can lose your salvation? Do you think you are powerful enough to pull yourself away from the hand of God once you have been placed firmly within it? I have a qualifier in that sentence. Did you catch it? These verses in John 10 make it clear that once we belong to Jesus we cannot be lost again. The qualifier is belonging to Jesus. There are many who think they have submitted their lives to Christ who have not. They may go to church, give to charity, read the Bible and pray and yet still not truly be a Christian. You are a Christian if you have turned your back on sin and made Jesus Christ the priority in your life. This means that what He wants is more important than what you want.

When you accepted Christ, were you heartbroken for the sinful life you had led? Did you realize your need for a Savior? Did you ask for forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus? Did you truly turn over all authority over your life to Christ? Have you confessed Him with your mouth? Have you been born again? If you have honestly answered yes to all of these questions, then rest assured in your salvation. If you cannot honestly answer yes to these questions, then be very afraid.

So, the man who has submitted his life to Christ will do works because his heart compels him to do so, not out of a desire to earn or keep salvation, but out of a desire to obey his Savior in great thankfulness and humility. If you say that sin is not sin, and commit sin with no conviction of wrong from the Holy Spirit, then you have never been saved; you only went through the motions without ever truly submitting your heart, and authority over your life, to Christ. You cannot lose what you did not have.

Now let me be clear, a person continues to stumble in sin even after they have submitted their lives to Christ. James made this clear in his book yesterday.

James 3:7 ESV
“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

I need Jesus Christ because I am not a perfect man. I stumble, but when I do it hurts. It doesn’t only hurt in that there are natural consequences for what I’ve done. It also hurts my spirit, my soul, because God’s Holy Spirit is grieved within me. The man who hurts spiritually after having stumbled doesn’t worry me. God will continue to work on that man until he comes to perfection in Christ Jesus. The man I worry about is the one who is not bothered by his sinful acts – that man does not have Christ, and will live eternity in spiritual death.

This may sound odd brothers, but it is my prayer that when you stumble it hurts a lot. I hope it hurts so much that you don’t want to stumble again. I pray that for you because it is by that pain that I know you are saved.

Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,
Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Bible Order: Acts 28 – Romans 2
Old Testament Only: Ezekiel 13–15
New Testament Only: Hebrews 13

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