Fruitful or Faithless? Part 5 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #17)

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:3-6: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

As in modern times, some in the Ephesian church were prepared to question the validity of a prayer for the salvation of all men. Thus Paul defended his instructions by pointing out that such a prayer is good, and pleases God our Savior. Literally, the Greek says that such a prayer is “acceptable before” (in the presence of) God. Many prayers are unacceptable to God, but not this one.

The reason this prayer is acceptable to God is that it is a prayer “according to His will.” God, who is by nature a Savior, wants all men to be saved. Paul repeated the words “everyone” and “all men.” The same Greek word “all” is used in each case, referring all three times to the same group. God desires that no one perish, that the entire human race come to know the truth through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the Truth. (Of course not all do come to salvation; Paul was not teaching universalism.)

We will continue looking at this passage in our next broadcast.

Today’s quote is from Jonathan Edwards. He said: “If there be ground for you to trust in your own righteousness, then, all that Christ did to purchase salvation, and all that God did to prepare the way for it is in vain.”

Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 5)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

This subtopic is titled, WHAT ARE BIBLICAL FRUITS?

Back to the biblical teaching on fruit. What is fruit? Actually the question ought to be phrased in the plural: What are fruits that a Christian can bear? The New Testament gives several answers to the question.

First, a developing Christian character is fruit. If the goal of the Christian life may be stated as Christlikeness, then surely every trait developed in us that reflects His character must be fruit that is very pleasing to Him. Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in nine terms in Galatians 5:22–23, and Peter urges the development of seven accompaniments to faith in order that we might be fruitful. Two of these terms are common to both lists: love and self-control. The others are joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, virtue, knowledge, endurance, piety, and brotherly love. To show these character traits is to bear fruit in one’s life.

Second, right character will result in right conduct, and as we live a life of good works we produce fruit. This goes hand in hand with increasing in the knowledge of God, for as we learn what pleases Him, our fruitful works become more and more conformed to that knowledge. When Paul expressed how torn he was between the two possibilities of either dying and being with Christ or living on in this life, he said that living on would mean fruitful labor or work. This phrase could mean that (1) his work itself was fruit, or (2) fruit would result from his work. In either case, his life and work were fruit. So may ours be.

Third, those who come to Christ through our witness are fruit. Paul longed to go to Rome to have some fruit from his ministry there, and he characterized the conversion of the household of Stephanas as the firstfruits of Achaia.

Fourth, we may also bear fruit with our lips by giving praise to God and thankfully confessing His name. In other words, our lips bear fruit when we offer thankful acknowledgment to the name of God. And this is something we should do continually.

Fifth, we bear fruit when we give money. Paul designated the collection of money for the poorer saints in Jerusalem as fruit. Also, when he thanked the Philippians for their financial support of his ministry, he said that their act of giving brought fruit to their account.

To sum up, fruit includes: (1) a Christlike character, (2) a life characterized by good works, (3) a faithful witness, (4) a pair of lips that praise God, and (5) a generous giving of one’s money.

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Fruitful or Faithless? Part 4 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #16)

The Bible says in John 11:25-26: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

This is the fifth of Jesus’ great “I am” revelations. The Resurrection and the Life of the new Age is present right now because Jesus is the Lord of life. Jesus’ words about life and death are seemingly paradoxical. A believer’s death issues in new life. In fact, the life of a believer is of such a quality that he will never die spiritually. He has eternal life, and the end of physical life is only a sleep for his body until the resurrection unto life. At death the spiritual part of a believer, his soul, goes to be with the Lord.

Today’s quote is from John Calvin. He said: “Since no man is excluded from calling upon God the gate of salvation is open to all. There is nothing else to hinder us from entering, but our own unbelief.”

Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 4)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

This is a continuation of the subtopic, THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY

Suppose I was genuinely willing to forsake all when I believed, but later I rejected that willingness or some part of it. How am I to view my salvation? Assuming that willingness was present when I believed, then according to the lordship view, I was truly saved. And if I believe in eternal security, then I cannot lose that salvation. So we are back to a relative amount or degree of disobedience in the Christian life that can be tolerated without doubting the original reception of salvation. A moment of defection, we have been told, is not an invalidation. Or “the true disciple will never turn away completely. Could he turn away almost completely and still be sure he was saved? or 90 percent? or 50 percent? Further, we are told that the motivation that causes us to defect even momentarily makes the difference between proving the reality or falsity of our faith. The motivation of fear, it is said, is permissible, but the motivation of treachery is not.

Frankly, all this relativity would leave me in confusion and uncertainty. Every defection, especially if it continued, would make me unsure of my salvation. Any serious sin or unwillingness would do the same. If I come to a fork in the road of my Christian experience and choose the wrong branch and continue on it, does that mean I was never on the Christian road to begin with? For how long can I be fruitless without having a lordship advocate conclude that I was never really saved?

Consider, too, the possible ramifications of this kind of relativity on mass evangelism, child evangelism, and collegiate evangelism. Should the mass evangelist instruct his counselors to send back to their seats those who are not willing to forsake all in order to be saved?

Should the children’s worker attempt to make his young audience face the questions of how they will choose among difficult life-changing options that they cannot even imagine and will not have to face for ten or fifteen years? If, later on, one of those children, now grown, makes a wrong choice, was he or she not saved all those years? Or if we acknowledge that a believer can make a wrong choice, can he make two, or two hundred, and still be saved?

Should the worker on the college campus insist that a collegian who wants to receive Christ hold off until he or she breaks off an immoral relationship? Could such a person be saved at the dorm meeting one evening and yet spend that same night in a continuing adulterous relationship? Or could he or she have two or three days to break off the relationship? Or two weeks or several months? In the meantime, is that person born again?

Fruitful or Faithless? Part 3 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #15)

The Bible says in John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

“Jesus’ unity with His Father is so complete that the honor of God is tied to Jesus. To reject or dishonor God the Son is to reject and dishonor God the Father. Since Jesus has the unity and divine prerogatives mentioned earlier in this chapter, to trust His message and His Father is to have in the present time eternal life. No judgment will come in the future (he will not be condemned because he has already passed from one realm — death — into another — life). Only once elsewhere (in 1 John 3:14) is the phrase “passed from death to life” used.”

Today’s quote is from Neil T. Anderson. He said: “The inner change, justification, is effected at the moment of salvation. The outer change in the believer’s daily walk, sanctification, continues throughout life. But the progressive work of sanctification is only fully effective when the radical, inner transformation of justification is realized and appropriated by faith.”

Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 3)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY

Those who hold to a lordship/discipleship/mastery salvation viewpoint do not (perhaps it would be more accurate to say “cannot”) send an unambiguous message about this matter. On the one hand, they say that the essence of saving faith is “unconditional surrender, a complete resignation of self and absolute submission.” True faith, we are told, “starts with humility and reaches fruition in obedience.” “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything… Saving faith is a commitment to leave sin and follow Jesus Christ at all costs. Jesus takes no one unwilling to come on those terms.” Denying self is essential to salvation: “Eternal life brings immediate death to self… Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion; it is the sine qua non of saving faith.”

But what if I do not follow Christ at all costs? What if later on in life I become unwilling to forsake something? Suppose I lack full obedience? What if I take something back that earlier in my experience I had given to Him? How do I quantify the amount of fruit necessary to be sure I truly “believe” in the lordship/mastery sense of the term? Or how do I quantify the amount of defection that can be tolerated without wondering if I have saving faith or if I in fact lost what I formerly had?

The lordship response, in spite of its stringent demands on the nature of what the view calls saving faith, must either say that (1) a disobedient Christian loses his salvation or (2) some leeway exists for disobedience within the Christian life. Since many lordship people hold to the security of the believer, they opt for the latter.

So we read a statement like this: “A moment of failure does not invalidate a disciple’s credentials.” My immediate reaction to such a statement is to want to ask if two moments would. Or a week of defection, or a month, or a year. Would two years? How serious a failure and for how long before we must conclude that such a person was in fact not saved? Lordship teaching recognizes that “no one will obey perfectly,” but the crucial question is simply how imperfectly can one obey and yet be sure that he “believed” in the lordship/mastery salvation sense? If “salvation requires total transformation” and I do not meet that requirement, then am I not saved? Or if my transformation is less than total at any stage of my Christian life, was I not saved in the first place?

We will continue our discussion of the theory of relativity in our next broadcast / podcast.

Fruitful or Faithless? Part 2 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #14)

[audio http://understandingsalvation.buzzsprout.com/26114/209523-fruitful-or-faithless-part-2-understanding-god-s-great-salvation-14.mp3]

The Bible says in Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

Peter’s message to the crowd gathered at Pentecost was forthright. First they were to repent. This verb means “change your outlook,” “have a change of heart, or reverse the direction of your life.” This obviously results in a change of conduct, but the emphasis is on the mind or outlook. The Jews had rejected Jesus; now they were to trust in Him. Repentance was repeatedly part of the apostles’ message in Acts.

A problem revolves around the command “be baptized” and its connection with the remainder of the verse. There are several views:

(1) One is that both repentance and baptism result in remission of sins. In this view, baptism is essential for salvation. The problem with this interpretation is that elsewhere in Scripture forgiveness of sins is based on faith alone. Furthermore, Peter, the same speaker, later promised forgiveness of sins on the basis of faith alone.

(2) A second interpretation translates Acts 2:38, “Be baptized… on the basis of the remission of your sins.” The preposition used here may mean “on account of or on the basis of.” It is used in this way in Matthew 3:11; Matthew 12:41; and Mark 1:4. Though it is possible for this construction to mean “on the basis of,” this is not its normal meaning; it usually describes purpose or direction.

(3) A third view takes the clause “and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ” as parenthetical. Several factors support this interpretation: (a) The verb makes a distinction between singular and plural verbs and nouns. The verb “repent” is plural and so is the pronoun “your” in the clause so that your sins may be forgiven. Therefore the verb “repent” must go with the purpose of forgiveness of sins. On the other hand the imperative “be baptized” is singular, setting it off from the rest of the sentence. (b) This concept fits with Peter’s proclamation in Acts 10:43 in which the same expression “sins may be forgiven” occurs. There it is granted on the basis of faith alone. (c) In Luke 24:47 and Acts 5:31 the same writer, Luke, indicates that repentance results in remission of sins.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise to those who turn to the Lord, including Jews and their descendants and those who are far off, that is, Gentiles. Acts 2:38-39 put together the human side of salvation (“repent”) and the divine side (“to elect”).

Today’s quote is from John Selden. He said: “I have taken much pains to know everything that is esteemed worth knowing amongst men; but with all my reading, nothing now remains to comfort me at the close of this life but this passage of St. Paul: ‘It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.’ To this I cleave, and herein do I find rest.”

Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 2)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

WHAT ABOUT DEATHBED CONVERSIONS?

Some may wonder, What about the person who is converted on his deathbed? Will such a person, assuming he or she is truly converted, bear fruit? If the person dies immediately after receiving Christ, how can he bear fruit? There simply is not time.

Are deathbed conversions an exception to the statement that all believers will bear some fruit? Perhaps not. For one thing, when anyone is converted at whatever stage of life, he experiences peace with God, and peace is a fruit of the Spirit. In some cases, that peace may be seen on the countenance of the dying person. But whether seen by others or not, is it not fruit?

For another thing, our Lord said that when someone is converted there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. Would that not be fruit that a converted-on-his-deathbed-and-immediately-dying person bears? Not necessarily fruit to be seen by other people (unless there be some moments just before death when family and friends might see or even hear of the change), but fruit seen and appreciated by angels in heaven. The account of a deathbed conversion may bear fruit in the lives of others soon after the person dies or much later. Reports of this happening at funeral services are not uncommon. So it can truly be said that every believer will bear fruit somewhere (in earth and/or heaven), sometime (regularly and/or irregularly during life), somehow (publicly and/or privately).

Fruit, then, furnishes evidence of saving faith. The evidence may be strong or weak, erratic or regular, visible or not. But a saving, living faith works.