Soteriology 056James 2:14-26 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 16, 2017 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Andy Woods Soteriology 56,
April 16, 2017
Father, we’re grateful for today, particularly this Sunday as we celebrate fact that you’re not a dead Savior but a living Savior, You’re alive not just through the resurrection but You’re alive right now at the Father’s right hand, and You’ve lived to make intercession for us and we’re grateful for the fact, Father, that we serve not just a risen Savior, not just a crucified Savior, not just a buried Savior but the living Savior, so we glorify You today in that and I pray that that would come across in our time together this morning. Be with our Sunday School class and the worship service that follows. We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said Amen.
Good morning everybody. Happy Resurrection Day. Do you guys like the word Resurrection Day better than Easter? I do too. I can’t find the word “Easter” in the Bible. All right, If I can get you to open your Bibles, let’s go to Matthew 16:24-25. We are continuing to wind down, believe it or not, our Soteriology class. Here’s out outline we’ve been using as we’ve been going through soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. We’re taking a test just to kind of dust the cobwebs off and help you remember some of the things we’ve studied.
You should have three things in front of you. Number 1, the test, do you guys all have that? Number 2, the PowerPoint for today; do you guys have that too? And Number 3 the give God a hand evangelistic model; do you have that? Question 45, it’s true or false, repent, believe and confess are poor word choices for salvation. I think the answer to that is true. Now the one that’s accurate is believe. Repent can be accurate if you define it correctly as a synonym for believe. A synonym, of course, different word, same meaning. And repent means change of mind, so when you stop trusting in yourself or your religion, or whatever, for your salvation and you trust exclusively in Christ you’ve changed your mind and that happens at the point of faith. We don’t believe in “repent and believe,” or “believe and repent” because when you repent you believe and when you believe you repent, they happen simultaneously at the point of justification.
And the problem is when you use the word “repent” today with people they won’t interpret it correctly. They think it means don’t smoke or chew or go with girls who do or something like that. And you’re going to end up preaching, if you don’t have time to unpack the meaning you’re going to end up preaching a works oriented gospel. So what we encourage you to do is to do exactly what John does when he wrote to the unsaved. John uses the word “believe” about a hundred times. You know John’s Gospel is the only gospel written to the unsaved; John uses the word “believe” a hundred times. How many times does he use the word “repent”? Zero! So if the word “repent” to the unbeliever is so important as everybody makes it out to be why does John never use the word?
Now if you want to use the word “repent” because sometimes when the gospel is presented to the unbelievers, like in Acts 2 the word “repent” is used, if you want to use the word “repent” make sure you have time to explain to people what it means. But if you don’t have the time to explain it my advice to you is just to drop the word entirely because people will misunderstand it and focus on the word “believe.”
And we also don’t believe that confess is a requirement for justification, and we’ve gone through the passages that make it look… people use Romans 10 and others but the bottom line is you can believe in Jesus Christ in privacy and never tell anybody about it, as people in Muslim countries have to do, or else they risk their wives and daughters being raped or some terrible thing. So they believe in Christ many times and they don’t say anything about it; are we going to say those people aren’t saved? Of course we’re not going to say that.
So this is the problem with the ABC method; first you must admit, second, you must believe, third you must confess and confess means you have to confess to the world that you’re a Christian or confess to somebody. And the problem with that is it works pretty good in America but it doesn’t work too well in Saudi Arabia. So I think the gospel is not just an American thing, it goes out to the whole world.
So confess, everybody’s got that at the end of their evangelistic tract but the fact of the matter is there’s no biblical basis for that; it’s a condition that people add to justification. Now if people want to confess they’re Christians I say thumbs up, go for it. It’s probably good to do that but I don’t hold that out as an extra step the unbeliever has to take. I’m not against confession, it’s just not a necessary prerequisite or condition for justification.
So why do we use all this stuff in our evangelistic tracts? A lot of it comes from a guy named Charles Finney. Charles Finney is significant in American history because he led the second great awakening in America. Charles Finney was also a lawyer so there’s part of the problem right there, right? As a matter of fact, Charles Finney, you might be interested to know this, got saved by studying for law school, reading legal commentaries. You say you’re kidding! No, that’s true, because in his day the commentary that was used was called Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law, which was used everywhere. It was brought over from Europe and it became the basis for American common law and all the way through Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law, and you can get these for free off the internet and put them on your Kindle and look through them, there is Scripture all over these commentaries.
In fact, Blackstone said we shouldn’t have any laws on the books that contradict what God has spoken in nature or in His Word. So therefore Blackstone called homosexuality “a crime against nature.” It was actually illegal in early America to be a homosexual because it was “a crime against nature” itself because God had spoken on that subject in creation, only male and female repopulate, not male and male, female and female, and God had spoken on that, against that in Romans 1. I mean, this is in Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law so here’s this guy Charles Finney getting ready for a legal career and he gets saved reading the book that’s preparing him to be a lawyer. It’s kind of interesting isn’t it. So times have changed just a tad, wouldn’t you say, since the days of Blackstone’s Commentaries.
You know, you can look at a historical figure like Finney and have respect for him in a lot of ways but on the other end of the stick he brought in what’s called revivalism and one of his famous lines is you induce conversions by any means possible. So if you want to use guilt, use guilt. If you want to darken the sanctuary and get the dry ice out, or whatever you’re going to do, do that. And if it takes people to walk forward then you use that. Use any means possible to make a convert out of somebody. Well, the reality of the situation is that’s not biblical because it’s the Spirit that convicts men and women of their need for Christ, right? And they’re supposed to respond to that by way of faith.
So Finney brought in all of this extra verbiage into evangelical evangelicalism; you start seeing terms like confess, sorrow, yield, surrender, all of these things you don’t find in the Gospel of John related to how someone gets saved and so what happens to people is they get saved and I was like this for years, I evangelized others the way I was evangelized. Or I evangelized others based on what I hear or see other people do and most people haven’t really studied the Scripture on this subject and as you start to study the Scripture you start to realize how far off our evangelistic models are.
That’s one of the things we’ve tried to present in this soteriology class. But your average person hears all this stuff through writing or Christian media or conversation and so when they go out to evangelize they use the same terminology. And unless you’ve actually taken the time to reprogram your mind, as one of my students said as I was trying to teach this, he kept saying recalibrating (it’s like when you’re lost and your Map Scope keeps saying “recalibrating” because you’re so lost the Map Scope doesn’t even know where you are. Has that ever happened to you guys? Have you ever gotten so lost that Google Maps can’t even figure out where you are. Or have you ever misspelled a word so badly that Spell Check doesn’t even know how to spell the word correctly.
So a lot of people haven’t gone through this process of recalibrating. Romans 12:2 says our minds are to be reprogrammed. [Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”] And so what people are out there doing is they won’t go through the discipline of reprogramming themselves and so essentially they are out there just rehashing verbiage that they hear which ultimately can be traced back to Charles Finney. And that’s why we’re not promoting the ABC method of salvation. If you want a method, and people like methods and methods are fine, we promote the five fingers approach where all the points are educational except the ring finger which is giving a condition, which is to do what? To believe! So the right answer to question 45 is true.
Question number 46, trust, confidence, dependence, or reliance are other ways of describing belief. Is that true or false? That’s true. So when you use the word “believe” one of the things you want to get across to people is becoming a Christian is more than stockpiling information in your mind; there’s a lot of people out there that can tell you all kinds of things about Jesus that are not saved at all. I have atheists members of my extended family (as long as they’re not outlaws we’re okay) and you get into a conversation…and it’s interesting how much they know about Jesus. They can say all kinds of things but you see, they’re not saved because it’s data in the mind that they’re not trusting in. So when you look up the word “belief” the Greek noun is pistis, the Greek verb pisteuō in a basic lexicon, it has the idea of being persuaded of something to the point where you place your confidence, or your trust, or your reliance in whatever it is you’ve been persuaded of. So “belief,” for it to be salvific in a person’s life has to get beyond data in the mind and it has to actually get into the realm of trust.
I think we’ve used James 2:19 on that, the demons believe and what? tremble. [James 2:19, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”] So their belief is not biblical belief the way John uses it. John uses it in terms of trust. So you can think of different examples to communicate that; I’ve used the example of Charles Blondin walking across the tightrope stretched across Niagara Falls pushing a wheelbarrow, and he yells out to the crowd, “do you guys believe I can do this?” And they all say “yes” because they’ve seen him do it over and over again and then he says which of you wants to get in the wheelbarrow? Now that’s trust, and that’s what saving faith is, you’re placing your trust for the safekeeping of your soul and your eternity into Christ.
Now one of the things we covered is why in the world has God set it up this way? And you have to get into the mind of God to understand why He’s conditioned salvation on faith. We’ve given five reasons in the class, but the first one is faith is the only thing a person can do which is non-meritorious. Meritorious means you do something and then you get something in return; that’s a merit system. So you show up at your job, you put in a certain number of hours, you get a pay check and you don’t say well thank you for the gift, because you logged in hours and time and sweat and energy that you could have used elsewhere to get that paycheck.
So the only thing that God will accept that’s nonmeritorious is faith and the key verse is Romans 4:4-5, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes” see that there? “but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” So you notice that “work” and “believe” there are two different things in God’s mind. Since God will not accept people on the basis of works, in fact Isaiah 64:6 says “all of our” what “works”? Not just works but our “righteous” works. [Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”]
What’s a righteous work? It’s something that I’m trying to do to get God to like me more. “…all of our righteous works are as” what? “filthy rags.” So since God does not accept people on the basis of works the only thing He will accept from a lost sinner is faith. “To the one who does not work but believes,” [Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness”]. And beyond that faith is by grace and not works, Romans 11:6 says, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” What is grace? Unmerited favor and the moment you add a single condition beyond faith alone you’re just introduced a meritorious works system. And by the way, people love the works because it appeals to pride—look at what I can do, look at what I’ve done.
And jumping down to bullet point number 4, which relates to what I’ve just said, faith alone eliminates what? Boasting. Ephesians 2:8-9 describes grace, faith, and then it says in verse 9 “so that no one may” what? “boast.” [Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”] The moment a single work is introduced, I raised my hand and you didn’t; I walked the aisle, you didn’t. I was really sorry about my past life and you weren’t. That becomes the basis for bragging. Do you see that?
And God has set this whole thing up so that bragging is excluded. Romans 3:27 indicates that the gospel principle excludes boasting. [Romans 3:27, “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.”] This is why God set it up totally on the basis of faith. That’s why Hebrews 11: 6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” not difficult to please God, “impossible.”
And then that third bullet point God set it up this way because faith alone maintains whose glory? God’s! So if it’s not based on my works but it’s based on His work, who get the glory at the end of the day? God does. And Isaiah 42:8 says God will not share His glory with another. [Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”] This is how you can always recognize a false gospel. You ask yourself who’s getting the glory here; is the spotlight on God and what He has done and what we have received by faith or is the spotlight come upon me and what I’ve done?
So God, if He’s not interested in sharing His glory with another is obviously going to set salvation up in such a way that the only way you can get into the door is based on what he has done. So anything else subtracts from the glory of God. What is God’s purpose? What is the purpose of our lives? To love God, the Westminster Confession says, and to glorify God. Does it not say that? What does it say, somebody help me with that. Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So the whole basis of humanity is to glorify God. So therefore when I receive His salvation who’s supposed to get the glory? God is.
And then finally at the bottom there the reason God has set up salvation completely on the basis of faith is to… watch this carefully… maintain the offense of the gospel. We have to understand something, that when God, in eternity past designed the gospel He set it up to assault pride. That’s why Paul calls the gospel an offense. The gospel, if you understand it, it’s one of the most offensive things that could ever be said to you because the gospel, when rightly understood, says this: you’re totally gone in your trespasses and sins, you can’t fix yourself even if you wanted to, even though you’re an American and you believe that we can all pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, the gospel comes along and says you can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps! The only thing you can do is to trust in the life preserver, and if you won’t trust in the life preserver you’re just going to drown. Now that is a wrecking ball, if you will, to the pride of man which is always trying to earn something from God and take credit for salvation.
So this is the reason that we have to be sticklers on this point of faith alone, because of these five reasons, at least. Faith is non-meritorious! Faith is by grace and not by works! Faith alone maintains the glory of God! Faith alone eliminates human boasting! And Faith maintains the gospel’s offense! That’s why the great temptation on the part of lost humans is always to add something in because if I can add something in it’s less offensive and I get some of the credit. That’s why there’s this constant battle that goes on related to keeping the gospel pure, keeping the gospel clean.
So question number 46 is true and I’ve explained why God has set it up that way.
Question 47, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 17:30, you can toss into the mix 2 Peter 3:9 use repentance relative to unbelievers but when that word is used relative to unbelievers it’s describing a what? Change of mind, which is a synonym for what? Faith!
[Acts 2:38, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 3:19, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 17:30, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”]
As your confidence moves from works to Christ alone you mind is changed. So as a 16 year old the moment I trusted in Christ I repented automatically my mind changed. And that’s what “repent” means when it’s used relative to unbelievers. It has nothing to do with fix yourself up morally. And you talk like this and people say well, you’re against people being reformed morally… well of course I’m not against that but that starts to happen when? After you’re saved; the Holy Spirit will start working on you with other issues in your life. Amen! Has that happened to anybody or am I the only one.
So we’re in favor of moral reformation and under God’s help cleaning one’s life up and all that kind of stuff but that is NOT a condition of justification. The gospel is NOT clean yourself up and come to Jesus. If I were to say clean yourself up and come to Jesus that’s nothing more than a works system, right? And because we’re not precise in our terminology, and most Christians aren’t given any real teaching on this subject, this is the kind of thing the unsaved world is hearing all the time…clean yourself up and come to Jesus. The reality of the situation is you come to Jesus through His avenue, “faith alone.” Now the cleaning up He’ll start dealing with you on once you’re saved but let’s not frontload the gospel; let’s not get the cart before the horse here. Let’s get people saved and then we’ll start the cleaning up process as God starts to work in their lives.
So that’s all the word “repent” means. Every time you see the word “repent” in the Bible as it is expressed to an unbeliever just understand that it means change of mind, which is being used as a synonym for faith.
And then we come to Matthew 16:24-25, question 48. Matthew 16:24-25 is not a justification text because it’s referring to someone already saved. Do you think that’s true or false? It’s true. For example, take a look at Matthew 16:24-25, and tragically people use verses like this to preach to unsaved people. Jesus is speaking to Peter, and he says, “Then Jesus said to” the unbelievers present, NO, it doesn’t say that does it. “Then Jesus said to His disciples,” now this is towards the final week of His life. See, He doesn’t talk like this unless He’s dealing with people that have been with Him for three years. He’s talking to Peter. Do you all think Peter was saved by this time? I think he was clearly saved. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”]
And people use a verse like this to go out to an unsaved person and they quote this verse. The reality of the situation is they’re not paying attention at all to the chronology of the Bible. Jesus is speaking these words to the disciples. This is not something that Jesus fired out of the gate at these guys; these guys have been with Him for over three years. So this is a call, not to justification but to progressive sanctification. This is a call not to initial saving faith in Christ but to discipleship. And you can discern this by simply looking at a chronology of the events in the life of Christ. I’m using the Ryrie Study Bible up here, (which is the proper Bible to be used by all Spirit-led Christians…. But anyway, a really good study Bible in the middle of the testaments, in between Malachi and Matthew, will have something called harmony of the gospels. See how mine goes on for several pages here. That’s what’s called the life of Christ put together in chronological order. It takes everything that happened in the life of Christ and orders it for you.
And the reason I bring this up is Peter was saved in event 20 in the life of Christ. That was his initial contact recorded in John 1 I believe; it was his initial contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, his brother, Andrew, brought Peter to Christ and Peter is saved. You’ll find that at the end of John 1 I think it is.
When Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 4:19, “And He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” It goes on and it says immediately they left their bot and their father and followed Him. [Matthew 4:21, “Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.”]
He came to these guys and told them to leave tour careers, leave your place of security and follow Me. And these fish you’re catching, you’re going to catch men. And I want you to understand that when you study Peter’s initial salvation and Peter’s calling into what I would call discipleship, there is a different chronology in the life of Christ. These occur at different times in Christ’s ministry. The first event, John 1, happened in event 20; this even that I just read about, leave your nets, leave your boats and follow Me, is event 35. See that? So the basic order in Christ is first you become a believer through the sharing of the pure gospel. And then as people start to grow and they start to mature, then a second call is issued into a deeper walk with Christ that we would call discipleship.
And the problem that’s happening is people aren’t distinguishing these two components of salvation. They’re merging them into one, throwing it onto an unbeliever who doesn’t even know what it means to be a disciple and in the process preaching a works oriented message, without even knowing it because they’re not paying attention to details.
Let me show you this in the Old Testament. When was the nation of Israel redeemed? Passover, and they passed (after that) through the Red Sea; God closed the waters on the pursuing Egyptians after the children of Israel were safe on the other side, and you read Exodus 14:30-31, it says they believed God and they believed His servant Moses. So you get beyond Exodus 14 and there’s no doubt that the Hebrews are saved. [Exodus 14:30-31, “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.  When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.”] And we pointed out how that verse, the Hebrew of that verse is identical to the way Abraham’s saving faith is described in Genesis 15:6. [Genesis 15:6, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”]
Then look at Exodus 19:1 just for half a second, “In the third month” let me say that again, “In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.” Two months have passed and now God brings them to Sinai and enters into them the covenant called the Mosaic Covenant where they are put under the Law of God. What’s the purpose of the Law of God? It’s not to redeem a nation, they already had redemption. They had redemption at the Passover. It is not given to redeem a nation, rather it’s given to a redeemed nation.
How is God’s redeemed nation supposed to act as they interact with each other. Commandments 6-10 govern that, don’t they? Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder. How is God’s redeemed nation supposed to act as they interact with God? Commandments 1-5 cover that, don’t they? No other gods before me, no graven images, all that kind of stuff.
[Exodus 10:1-15, “And God spoke all these words:  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.  You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”]
How is God’s redeemed nation supposed to act towards the rest of the world? The Mosaic Covenant covers that because it teaches them that they are now a kingdom of priests, meaning they’re intermediaries to the world. So the Mosaic Law is not an instrument of justification, it is an instrument of sanctification. This is the whole problem that Jesus had with the Pharisees. They were taking an instrument of sanctification and turning it into an instrument of justification. The problem wasn’t the Law of Moses, the problem was their abuse of it, and in the process they were teaching a works oriented salvation.
But what I want you to see is there is at least two months in between the redemption of the nation and the giving of the Mosaic Law at Mount Sinai, two months, so therefore the call into discipleship is a second call. See that? And it’s carried over into the New Testament as 1 Peter is saved, John 1, then he is called into a deeper walk of discipleship, Matthew 4. And that calling keeps going after Peter, right up until the final week of Christ’s life before He was killed, murdered, in Jerusalem.
What’s happening is people are not paying attention to the chronology of the Bible; the chronology of the Bible is a big deal. Paul himself even mentions Bible chronology in Romans 4 when he says do you all understand that chapter 17 comes after chapter 15 of Genesis? That’s kind of my translation of what he says, because in chapter 17 the nation was circumcised. Well, does circumcision gain salvation from God? NO, because circumcision is recorded in chapter 17, Abraham’s saving faith is recorded in Genesis 15. So Paul points out the chronology here.
And you see, because people aren’t getting the basic chronology of the Bible and they don’t really understand that things happen at different times they take two events separated by time, like the redemption of Israel and putting them under the Mosaic Law, like the salvation of Peter and when he was called into discipleship, and they just conflate the two and they put that out to the unbeliever and in the process they’re no different than the Pharisees who got the gospel wrong because they took something that was intended for a saved person and they’re holding that out to an unsaved person. Do you follow that?
So people say well why, Andy, are you into this verse by verse teaching? I mean, it’s so slow, we don’t get out till 12:30 if we’re lucky, and you have to cover every word. The fact of the matter is the only way you’re going to get the chronology of the Bible is to study it in the order in which it was given. Are you with me on that? So a lot of these false gospels that people are preaching, they’re just… I don’t mean to say this in an unkind way but I don’t know another way to say it, it’s basically just biblical illiteracy. People do not understand the order of the events and they’re conflating things that don’t go together.
So what we believe is this: All disciples are believers but not all believers are disciples. All believers are called to be disciples at some point but not all of them are at that place. The children of Israel were believers but not disciples for two months as they traveled to Sinai. And they weren’t acting very saintly, were they, the children of Israel? The way they were acting is like the way your kids act when you take them on vacation. You’re out of the driveway and they say what? Are we there yet? I’m hungry, I’m tired, so and so hit me and all this kind of stuff. And then you need another vacation just to recover from your vacation.
So that’s who the children of Israel are; after they are redeemed they’re acting like this because they haven’t entered into the Law, which was only given to Israel, they haven’t entered into the walk of the [can’t understand word]. This is the way Peter is acting, really all the way through the gospels. And if we’re honest with ourselves we’re exactly the same way aren’t we? We get saved and we’re just a bunch of little babies, that’s all we are; we don’t know how to live above and beyond the sin nature, we go back to the sin nature, we don’t understand the walk of discipleship and God starts to gradually work on us. Do you see that?
So all disciples are believers but not all believers are necessarily disciples. See, our goal here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to get folks saved. Now a lot of churches, their mission statement stops right there, but that’s not where our stops; we want to see people move into discipleship. And there is no other way to enter into the walk of discipleship other than through perpetual exposure to the Word of God. Did not Jesus say in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by thy Word,” or thy truth, “thy Word is truth.”
First of all, you’re not going to get saved without the Word of God because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” [Romans 10:17] Secondly, you’re not going to grow unless you’re exposed to the Word of God and when I mean the Word of God I mean the whole enchilada, or to use Jewish terminology the whole shawarma. There are people sitting in churches hearing the exact same messages over and over and over again, that have been saved for decades, that are going to heaven and haven’t grown an inch spiritually and the reason is they’re in the wrong environment.
So what’s the difference between a believer and a disciple? Believing is justification which is initial salvation. Becoming a disciple is different. Becoming a believer is a free gift, but let me tell you something about being a disciple, it’ll cost you something. Now I’ve found that what God takes away he returns tenfold or a hundredfold. But that’s why He’s saying to Peter unless you’re going to lose your life you’re not going to find it. So there’s things a disciple has to give up and the Holy Spirit works on us in different areas there. Justification is entered into through faith; discipleship is entered into through commitment and obedience… watch carefully this next clause, through the Spirit’s enablement. Did you catch that last part? Because a lot of people teach discipleship this way: I’ve to white-knuckle it, I’ve got to exercise more will power, when the reality of the situation is you get saved through the guidance of the Spirit and the empowerment of the Spirit. How do you grow? The exact same way.
And see, this is the whole problem with the Galatians, the Galatians were saved people but they were trying to grit it through human power in the walk of discipleship and Paul says to them, Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Discipleship means you become aware of your resources and as you become aware of those you start to yield moment by moment to those resources. So the sin nature raises up in you and wants to be pacified, and you say to yourself, you know what? In the past I’ve gone back to this particular sin, whatever sin it is you may have been committing, I may have been committing, but you know, this time I’ve been studying Romans 6 and I recognize that I have been baptized into Christ and my sin nature has not been disabled but it’s dead, it’s still there to tempt me but it no longer has the power over me that it once had. So you know what I’m going to do today? I’m going to say no to the sin nature.
Well guess what just happened there? You’ve progressed away from justification only into sanctification; away from believing into spiritual maturity. And it’s a time thing. The more time you spend doing what I just said, saying no to the sin nature on the basis of your resources in Christ is the amount of time you grow as a Christian. You do not measure someone’s spiritual maturity on the basis of what they know because a lot of folks know things that they don’t follow…Amen! And you don’t measure it on the basis of the amount of time people have been saved because a lot of people have been saved for a very long time and yet they’re really not walking out this walk of discipleship. Spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, the kind of people you as a congregation should select as leaders, as elders and deacons, are people that you believe have a track record of time saying no to the sin nature under the enablement of the Spirit.
God is not going to save people against their will; He’s not going to grow people up against their will either. If you want to be a spiritual infant your whole life then God says you can go ahead and do that, but there’s a better way. It’s a matter of volition. I have to start cooperating with the work of the Spirit in my life. Justification is not by works; discipleship involves a great degree of cooperation. Justification is instant, discipleship is a lifelong process, you’re always in that walk until your dying day. The only time that walk stops is when you’re in glory. Justification is justification. Discipleship is sanctification. Justification, Jesus paid the price. Discipleship, do you know who starts paying a little bit of a price, and in some cases a big price? We do.
That’s why Jesus called some folks to follow Him and one guy said well, I’ve got to go back and I’ve got to bury my dad. And this fellow, to become a disciple had to leave something that he wanted to do. So the Holy Spirit starts to apply pressure on you and say this needs to go, this needs to change, you need more direction here, you need to start doing this. And what you’re going to discover is God is asking you to give up things, but He’s not asking you to give them up through your own power. See that.
He’s asking you to give them up through the resources that He has provided and the more time, chronologically, you spend cooperating with those resources through your own volition, is the amount of time you grow spiritually, exponentially. The more time we go back to the sin nature, it is a time that I’m still saved but my growth process has been shut down, it’s thwarted. Justification, Jesus paid the price. Discipleship, the believer pays the price. Justification, trusting in Jesus as Savior. Discipleship following Christ as Lord. The prominent role that Jesus plays when you get saved is He’s your Savior. I’m not denying the fact that He is also Lord, Kurios, the Lord, but that is not His primary interaction with you; it’s your Savior. I guess there is an overlap between the two because you wouldn’t be trusting Him unless you believed He was your Lord but allowing Christ to begin to rule over your life, now what becomes prominent is His title as Lord.
That’s why 1 Peter 3:15, look at what it says here, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” notice the concept of Lord or Lordship takes place with what? Sanctification. So if you want to talk about Lordship salvation that’s where your Lordship salvation comes to the forefront. It comes to the forefront in your discipleship because he says, “sanctify Christ as Lord,” it doesn’t say justify Christ as Lord, it says “sanctify Christ as Lord.” So justification, He’s your Savior; discipleship He’s becoming your Lord, He’s ruling over more territory.
Justification, how many commands are there? I hope you guys are saying one. One command, obey the gospel! Sanctification, how many commands are there? There are so many I can’t even count them all. Do you realize that in Ephesians 1-3 there’s not a single command given; all it’s doing is revealing what we have in Christ because we’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And then you get to Ephesians 4:1 and it says, “Therefore,” and when we see the word “therefore” we have to ask what is the word “therefore” there for. Do you realize that when you get into Ephesians 4-6 there are 38 commands? You see the logic here? You don’t try to grow as a Christian until you understand who you are as a Christian. Once you understand who you are as a Christian, that you’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places now you begin to follow the commands.
And this is the opposite of modern day preaching where you have to move to application. Here’s the three things I want you to do this week: and that’s the time everybody gets out their pen and starts taking notes because we like that. But Paul doesn’t teach that way. Paul teaches pure doctrine, with no commands, for three whole chapters. No application, no here’s three things to do this week. If you want to see another place Paul does it is 1 Corinthians 15, which is a good chapter to think about on Resurrection Sunday, he goes on for 57 verses talking about doctrine… 57 verses!
And then finally in verse 58 he gives one point of application. “Therefore my beloved, be always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain.” So “Therefore” is your hint that he’s moving into application; the man gives zero application for 57 verses and finally one point of application at the end. This is the opposite of modern day preaching methodology. Most people are giving multiple points of application and almost zero doctrine. We’ve adopted a lot of philosophies and methodologies inside the church and how we evangelize. If we would go back to the Bible we would see things very differently. So the one command for justification is to believe the gospel; the commands for discipleship are multiple: pray without ceasing, don’t quench the Holy Spirit, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as is the habit of some, study and show yourself approved as a worker that need not be ashamed that rightfully handles the Word of truth. There’s just a few commands I can think of off the top of my head.
You don’t give those commands to unsaved people. You give those commands to believers who are beginning to get an understanding of who they are in Christ. Justification—one condition. Discipleship—multiple conditions. Justification—experienced by all Christians. Discipleship— experienced by some Christians. Well, what do you get if you’re justified? Eternal life, you’re not going to hell! Right, isn’t that a good thing? Now here’s the big question I’m asked: well, if I have that why do I need to worry about being a disciple? Because discipleship results in other benefits above and beyond simply having your fire insurance paid up. It results in rewards in the next life.
Are you interested in rewards? Are you interested in promotion? Does anybody here not want to be promoted? We like the idea of promotion and what you start to learn is promotion and authority in the kingdom and differing degrees of authority… why is it one man rules over ten cities and one rules over five, Luke 19? Why is there a difference? It has to do with the walk of the disciple. The walk of the disciple does not determine heaven and it does not determine eternal life but it results in other things. The problem with the Corinthians is they had the justification but they didn’t have the walk of discipleship and that’s why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
In other words, you can go into the judgment of rewards and have nothing to show for it because you spent your whole life as a Christian going back to the sin nature but notice, you’re still saved. So what he’s telling them is you people, he’s not saying you people need to get saved, what he’s saying is you need to enter into the walk of the disciple because you need to experience these other rewards beyond simply getting to heaven. Do you see the difference between those?
So where are we? Question number 4 is true. One more and we’ll finish. Question number 49, John 1:12 is an example of interpreting receiving or accepting Christ as a synonym for faith. The correct answer to that is true. People say well is it okay if I use the word people need to receive Christ? Yes, it’s okay to use that word as long as you explain to people that “receive Christ” is a synonym for what? Faith! You’ll notice John 1:12 connects the two. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”
The key word is “believe.” John does not use the word “receive” 99 times in his gospel. He uses the word “believe” 99 times, occasionally he uses synonyms, different words, same meaning, and when he uses a synonym he explains it. So should you use the word “receive Christ,” you need to “receive” Christ when dealing with the unbeliever. My answer to that is the same as the word “repent.” Use IF you have time explain it to them. IF you don’t have time to explain it I would leave out the word “receive” just like I would leave out the word “repent.” I would focus on believe and explain what that means.
I’ll stop talking at this point. My goodness, we made it through three questions, I’ve got to pick up the pace here. The next two weeks I’m not going to be here. Pastor Jim is going to be teaching next week and then the following week in the Sunday School class J. B. Hixon is going to be here.