Tag Archives: saints

Until the Right Time

Grace 101

So humanity fell.  Sin entered the world through the choice of our first parents and infected every part of human life.  Adam and Eve suffered the loss of spiritual life and nothing was the same.  Nor could they return to what they had.  For the first time, they knew suffering and deprivation.  They experienced pain and even death.  And sin entered the lives of all their children.

But God still loved them.  That never changed.  His desire was for fellowship with them.  Yes, they were separated from Him but He stayed near.  He would guide them and care for them, but they would not have the communion with Him they had before.

We know that God had a plan.  At the right time, Christ would die for the people God loved and those who trusted in Him would find that communion Adam and Eve had lost.  In fact, they would find much more.  The very life of Jesus Christ would be theirs.  He would live in them and they would live in Him.  But the right time was a long way off.

What about all those people who lived between Adam and Jesus?  By the most conservative count, there were 4000 years between them.  That represents a lot of people.  Was there no hope for them?  This question has challenged us for a long time.  What about the Old Testament people?  How were they saved?  There were some good people, according to the stories.  What about them?

Let me reduce centuries of debate to a single statement:  Old Testament saints were saved by grace through faith.  Sound familiar?  That’s right.  They were saved the same way we are saved.  They trusted in the Lord as their Savior.  The only difference between us and them is that our salvation is already and theirs was coming.  They looked forward to what would be accomplished for them on the cross.  We look back to what was done for us.

God alone is the Savior!  There is no other.  We believe that Jesus is God.  Otherwise He could not be the Savior we need.  The unity between the Old Testament/Covenant and the New Testament/Covenant is Jesus.

I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. Isaiah 43:11

“Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; For there is no Savior besides Me. Hosea 13:4

But they did not know about the cross.  Not really.  They received hints and a call to trust the Lord.  They knew the burden of sin and their separation from God, but they did not know what He would do about those things.  They just had to trust Him.

I don’t think anyone really knows why Jesus came when He did.  The Scripture simply says it was “at the right time.”  It has been my experience that God’s sense of timing is very different from mine.  Most believers have found that to be true.  I remember hearing Chuck Smith say, “Every time I have given God a deadline, He missed it!”  Timing is something very special in the hands and mind of God.  He accomplishes things by precision timing that could only be described as miraculous.  So, we simply have to trust that Jesus came “at the right time.”

So what was supposed to happen during the 4000+ years between Adam and Jesus?  What were the people supposed to do?  Did God just leave them alone?  Not at all!  There was a plan to guide them and protect them until the Day.

Tomorrow . . .

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Filed under Grace 101, Relationship

What we are vs What we do

Do you see the opportunity for deception in the idea that we are what we do?  Let’s look at just a few of the lies that come out of this idea.

First, this suggests that the lost could save themselves by changing their actions.  Think about that.  Legalist preachers often call those who have never come to Christ to change their behavior.  That’s the way they will be accepted.  The gay man has to stop being gay and then he will be welcome to come to Jesus.  The couple living together without being married have to separate before they can come to Jesus.  I had a pastor tell me very bluntly one day that he believed people should get their lives straightened out before they came to Christ.  But the whole point is that we can’t do that.  If we fix one sin, we overlook another.  We would never be clean enough.

Here’s another one: even those who do come to Christ will never have assurance of salvation because they will never measure up to what they are supposed to be.  Any sin would be enough to disqualify them.  If telling a lie makes a person a liar and liars are excluded from Heaven, then we had better never tell a lie.  Anyone who does is in trouble.  But we are still learning that sin is unnecessary in our lives.  We still think according to the flesh most often and we still react the way we used to.  So the legalists have to create a whole system of confession and repentance and penance just to give us a little hope.

If I am what I do, then the work of Christ is unnecessary and unfruitful.  Nothing has changed in my life.  If I am still judged by my works, good or bad, then I am just as lost and just as much without hope as I was before.  What good is salvation that lasts a moment after confession and then is lost because of a wrong thought?

You see, because this is what is taught, much of the church today has no assurance, no hope, no joy.  They still see themselves as sinners.  They might proclaim that they are saved by grace, but they also feel unsaved by their works.  And they pass that feeling on to others.

I know that some people are uncomfortable with anyone saying that he or she is no longer a sinner because of Jesus.  There is a context to that statement.  It does not mean that we never do anything sinful.  It means that we are no longer sinners.  We are saints, according to the Scripture.  Why are we no longer sinners?  Because Jesus is our life and our righteousness.  Sinner is what we were.  Saint is what we are.

What we do (even if it is sin) is not what we are.

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Filed under grace, Legalism