torsdag 17. november 2016

No. 1400: Five Steps to salvation - Jeremy Hoff!

No. 1400:
Five Steps to salvation - Jeremy Hoff!

The image of the writer, Bible teacher and preacher Jeremy Hoff, who is American, resident in Norway and married here in Norway!
With own website: http://www.22juliprofetien.com/




As I see it, there are five steps to salvation:

1. The preaching of Scripture leads to a fundamental belief, but this belief is not yet saving faith. This belief is similar to the belief that the devil has, in the sense that the most is about the recognition of certain facts about God (James 2:19).

2. This fundamental belief should lead to repentance and remorse.

3. Anger leads to repentance.

4. Repentance leads to a saving faith in grace alone.

5. And grace leads to salvation and eternal life.


Martin Luther seems to agree that repentance is a prerequisite for salvation:

"The true way to Christianity is this, that a man do first acknowledge himself, by the law, to be a sinner, and that it is impossible for him to do any good work.  For the law saith, 'Thou art an evil tree, and therefore all that thou thinkest, speakest, or doest, is against God.' ... "For whatever is not of faith is sin." ... When a man is thus taught and instructed by the law, then is he terrified and humbled, then he seeth indeed the greatness of his sin, and cannot find in himself one spark of the love of God: therefore he justifieth God in His Word, and confesseth that he is guilty of death and eternal damnation. The first part then of Christianity is the preaching of repentance and the knowledge of ourselves." (Luther, Commentaery on Galatians, 4:16, pp. 128-132)

If I am standing in the middle of the road and you are shouting to me “Jeremy! Get out of the road! A truck is coming!” Then just believing in what you say will not save me. I might turn around and shout back: “I believe in you, Jan Kåre!” I might even confess to all my friends that are standing on the road that I believe in Jan Kåre. I might even have an “I believe in Jan Kåre T-shirt", and memorize your warning in Greek… but that will not save me.

In order for faith to save me there has to be some corresponding actions, and that is why James says that, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17) He goes on to say: "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (James 2:22)

First we hear the message. Then faith is starting to rise in our hearts. Then we act upon what we have heard (omvendelse). And then our faith is "made perfect" (frelsende tro).

In the beginning, Martin Luther had a big problem with the book of James, but he eventually came to understand that faith and works are really just two sides of the same coin, being bonded together by grace. In The Disputation Concerning Justification, Luther responded to the following logical problem:
"Faith without works justifies. Faith without works is dead. Therefore, dead faith justifies." (See James 2:17-26)

Luther's response included the following:
"We say that justification is effective without works, not that faith is without works. For that faith which lacks fruit is not an efficacious but a feigned faith. 'Without works' is ambiguous, then. For that reason this argument settles nothing. It is one thing that faith justifies without works; it is another thing that faith exists without works." [LW 34: 175-176]
So then, Luther agrees with James that faith without works is not the same thing as saving faith. At the beginning of this post, I listed five basic steps to salvation. Step 1 is faith without works. Only when the process of repentance has been established is faith "made perfect" as "saving faith" (step 4). For this reason I suspect that Luther would accept my illustration in the video with the three Bibles. Salvation is by faith (which includes works of repentance) alone.

It is, however, not sufficient to repent and receive God's grace by faith at one time in our lives, unless we are prepared to maintain our salvation with a lifestyle of ongoing repentance. We cannot continue to commit conscious and willful sin, and expect that these sins will be covered by "grace". Paul makes this absolutely clear in the book of Hebrews:

(Hebrews 10:26-29)  For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  (27)  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  (28)  Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  (29)  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
If you are violating your conscience, by practicing things that go against your convictions, then you are not living a lifestyle of repentance according to saving faith in grace. If you have this careless attitude toward sin, then your faith still needs to mature from step 1 to step 4, by a genuine repentance. As we keep our conscience clean, our conscience will become more and more sensitive, as the Holy Spirit leads us into ever greater sanctification. The moment your faith stops responding to the purifying work of the Holy Spirit, it becomes dead faith. A dead animal will not respond to its master's prodding.

It is possible for one who has saving faith to fall into sin, but not to live in sin. One who's nature has been changed by a saving faith in grace is very quick to repent. He is like the cat, which avoids getting wet by nature. If the cat falls into a puddle, it will jump out immediately. But if a pig "falls" into that same puddle, its filthy nature dictates that it will plop down happily and wallow around for a while before eventually moving on in shame. If your nature has not been changed, then you must be born again. If you really want to stop being a pig, then go back to step 2, and seek to establish a lifestyle of repentance, in keeping with saving faith.

Repentance without saving faith is like a car without any fuel. You can have enough basic "faith" to go and sit down in the car, put on your belt, and turn the key in the ignition. But you will not get very far until you are willing to humble yourself, and recognize that you cannot make the car go forward by your own efforts. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Your faith becomes saving faith when you become humble enough to roll down the window, and call out to God for some gasoline (grace), being fully aware that you are unable to pay for it yourself. He will come and fill up your car for free, but you must call out to him in faith, recognizing your need, and your total inability to purchase His overcoming power of grace. You cannot earn this gasoline by your own efforts to push the car forward. You must call out and accept it as a free gift. And, once your car is moving under the power of grace, you must never think that you are earning that power by your ability to drive the car.

But you must keep the right attitude. One who asks, "How much can I sin and still have God's grace", is like the driver who considers how many holes he can have in his gas tank and still reach his destination. He is in danger of receiving the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Your car was meant to travel on a strait and narrow asphalt road. If you start driving carelessly out on the rocks, then you are going to puncture your gas tank, and you will not get very far. Then you will need to call out for God's mercy to come and repair your car, and put you back on the road. God is not going to tow you all the way to your destination with a tow truck. He has given you His grace to empower you to overcome the power of sin. We are told clearly in the New Testament that no one will see the Lord without holiness. You cannot have just half of the gospel. You can either have all of Christ, or none of Him.

Here is a pretty good presentation of the gospel:
 

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