Tit for tat


Some of you, I would assume, have been raising your voices at me for my apparent disregard of scriptures that would seem to be contrary to what I have been saying the gospel is.  In fact I thought I heard a couple of you shouting at me for this grievous error on my part.

So let’s have it.  Some of us would say there are plenty of scriptures that say we have salvation today and we have eternal life today because we believe. 

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.[i] 

See plain as day God has given us eternal life if we have the Son.  John says he wrote these things so that we may know that we have eternal life.  Sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it.

We seem to forget that scripture doesn’t teach we have the Son simply because we believe.  While we hold confidently we share in Christ because we believe, scripture teaches that we share in Christ only if we hold firm to the end. 

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.[ii] 

We base what we call facts only on partial scripture and not on the whole council of God.  Because we do this we make God’s word out to be schizophrenic, one scripture saying one thing an another saying the opposite as we see here.  We are putting our eternal salvation on the line for a convenient gospel not the gospel according to scripture.

How about,

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.  I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.[iii] 

Yes, yes we say.  What about this scripture for it says whoever hears and believes has eternal life.  Doesn’t scripture teach that we have passed from death to life?

Aren’t we left with the impression that yes we are saved when we get up from the altar?  Isn’t this exactly just the opposite of what I have been telling you scripture teaches? 

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.[iv] 

Yes it must be apparent that you can say my understanding of the gospel is wrong.  We know after all if we believe in the son we have eternal life. 

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”[v] 

Surly I must be a buffoon for saying we are to wait for our salvation.  I must have gone out of my mind to say we have a hope that Christ will bring us our salvation and eternal life.  I surely must be a perverter of the gospel or are we finding another area in which the scripture is duplicit.  There are apparently those scriptures that say we have a hope of salvation waiting for us in heaven and to be given to us when Jesus returns.  Then there are those scriptures that say we don’t have to wait for anything, we are saved today.  So what, let’s chuck out the Bible since it contradicts itself?  Certainly not!  

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.[vi]

If the word of the Lord is a shield for all who take refuge in Him, are we taking refuge in him by believing or does this happen when we hold on in obedience to the hope of our salvation promised to us who are faithful to the end.

To help us better understand those scriptures that look like they are saying we are saved at the altar we must ask ourselves, what do we know about God in His relationship to mankind and how He conveys His message of hope to us who put our faith in Him?  To help us understand how God relates to His creation in sharing His message of hope, our gospel, let me ask you a question.  When was the following scripture first written down?  Was it during the New Testament or the Old Testament? 

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us allHe was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.[vii] 

I think most of seasoned believers are familiar with this scripture.  We understand it in reference to our Lord Jesus.  But if we were not familiar with it and had only read it for the first time we would assume this has taken place.  And we would be right to assume so with all the past tense verbiage in the text.  Not to mention Jesus has fulfilled this scripture with his life.  But what if we would have read this same scripture from Isaiah around 700 years before Jesus was born?  What then, would we read the text and not ask, who did this happen to?  We wouldn’t ask who will this happen to.  There is not one hint as to will, when, to be or any other future tense in Isaiah’s message it is all past tense. 

When Isaiah spoke as he was moved by the Holy Spirit he spoke as if it was an already done deal.  So what now, is God Himself mad?  His omnipresence is driving Him insane. He can’t keep His past, present and future straight.  Ah, this must be the reason for so much confusion in the New Testament over the question if we saved now or are we not, right?  This makes perfect sense now, God has lost it and He is bringing us into His insanity.  He has lost all ability to be coherent.  No wonder there is so much confusion concerning the gospel in the church.

Or maybe His ways are so much higher above ours that we in our wisdom can not fathom the foolishness of God.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”[viii] 

Yes I think this is more likely the answer. 

What do we know about our God? 

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.[ix] 

God calls things that are not as if they were?  Why this helps explains things.  He called the message Isaiah gave concerning our savior that was not yet fulfilled as if it were.  He called what was not as if it were.  And why not?  For scripture teaches the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.  Yet Christ wasn’t slain historically until around 32 AD.

Paul even uses the example of Abraham when God said to him, “I have made you a father of many nations.”  Now this is big time calling things that are not as if they were.  Abraham was an old childless man when God said, “I have” to Abraham.  In the natural we would criticize someone who boast of having done something only to find out they didn’t.  Then after confronting them they confess to us that they meant to.  But God speaks things that are not as if they were.  Why not?  To Him it is already done.  He is the Eternal One.

Since we know that God speaks things that are not as if they were, we can accept the passage of Isaiah as a past tense even though it is 700 hundred years before Christ.  We can accept Christ being slain from the foundation of the World.  We can also accept Abraham being the father of many nations even though it is just him and Sarah.  How much more should we accept Him speaking through the Holy Spirit to us in scripture when He says we have been saved?  Isn’t it all the same to Him?  Or are we to bring God down to our level and make Him like us?

Isn’t it true that we have been given a gospel promised before the beginning of time?  Wasn’t the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?  Why should we be surprised when God calls things that are not as if they were in our gospel?  Or does our boast of God being the same today, yesterday and forever not apply here?  The very beginning of our faith that is found in our father Abraham had its beginning on such a pronouncement.  “I have made you a father of many nations.”  If this is so for our father Abraham, and his calling by God is the start of our hoping in the promises given to Abraham we now find ourselves participating in, why should we not accept God speaking things that are not as if they were in our gospel?  Why should we not accept God speaking things that are not as if they were to Abraham’s children?

So am I off my rocker?  Have I taken this too far saying that God has called things that are not as if they were in our gospel?  That truly we have been saved at conversion and I am an enemy of the gospel, because I cause the church to doubt their salvation?  Let me ask a question.  What is harder for God to say, you have been saved or we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms? 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.[x] 

So we say we are saved because of the past tense of this scripture and ignoring all those other scriptures that say we are yet to be saved.  So tell me since we are so fixated on the past tense, when did we take our place with Jesus in the heavenly realms?  Scripture says we have been raised and seated.  Sounds plain enough to me, this is spoken in the past tense and must of happened already.  Even though it didn’t happen for Jesus for centuries and Abraham for years. 

We have two ideas in one place in scripture. One idea is our being saved.  In the middle of these two verses that speak of our being saved we have a comment on our sitting in heavenly realms.  One idea we as the church cling to, ignoring the other verses that say differently.  We cling to our being saved and ignoring our hope.  The other idea is our being seated with Christ in heavenly places.  We say we are saved because we read we are saved so why don’t we say we are sitting in heavenly realms if we can read it too in the past tense? 

Some may argue sitting with Him in heavenly places is spiritual and not meant to be literally.  After all it says we sit with Him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus and only possible in Christ Jesus and only possible when He returns for us.  If this is so who can then say they are saved outside of Christ Jesus?  Are not we also saved in Christ Jesus?  Haven’t I been advocating my brothers that scripture teaches this salvation of ours, like sitting in the heavenly realms, will take place when Jesus returns?  So why is this meant to be taken spiritually and being saved is not.  After all we have scripture that speaks of the fulfillment of the hope we have, to actually have the right to sit with God on His throne.  This in not just some spiritual metaphor there is an actual day to come when we sit with Jesus on His throne.  Just like there is an actual day to receive salvation.  

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”[xi] 

We have to overcome first to have this right.  I know I have mentioned this before but I hope to make the gospel according to scripture stick to our hearts and minds.

Is not God calling things that are not as if they were in our gospel when He through though the Holy Spirit says we sit with Him in heavenly realms?  After all we can see Jesus promising us the right to sit with Him on His throne.  Don’t we have the same situation as our father Abraham?  A statement of fact from God that has yet to be fulfilled.  We have the statement of fact from God we are sitting with Christ right now in the heavenly realms.  Abraham had the statement from God you are the father of many nations.  Yet both us and Abraham know in our knower this may be the fact from God’s perspective but for us we hope for the day to see it come to pass.  He calls things that are not as if they were for both us and our father Abraham.

How much more in the case of our salvation should we realize God calls things that are not as if they were?  I have presented many but not all of the scriptures that talk about our hope and future salvation.  We the church cling to those few scriptures saying we are saved and therefore do not live by faith.  How can we say we live by faith when faith is hoping for what we do not have? 

In our churched gospel we do not live hoping for what we do not have.  We have taken the hope that his held out in the gospel and declared it is not a hope but a fact.  We have stripped from ourselves and our new converts the ability to trust God at His word concerning His promises towards us when we say we are saved after we cite a prayer.  We have stripped ourselves and our converts the ability to please God when we say we are saved and no longer hope in His promises concerning us. 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.[xii] 

To this we can say we believe God exist and this to our credit.  But what about hoping for what we do not yet have, believing for what is not yet seen.  And what about His rewards for those of us who earnestly seek Him?  Isn’t it true our reward is kept for us in heaven? 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.[xiii] 

Can’t we see our hope in these verses?  We have an inheritance that will be given us when we stand before our Lord.  In keeping with our gospel as announced in scripture, our inheritance has been prepared for us since the world’s creation.  Isn’t this cause for rejoicing?  Our gospel is not Plan “B” but Plan “A”.  This gospel says our inheritance is the kingdom prepared for us before the creation of the world.  Who amongst us would stand up and say yep been there seen it done it?  Don’t we all long for that day?  Is not this what we yearn for?  To be with Him in His kingdom.

The Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen says of Abraham,

He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.[xiv] 

Our father Abraham who had the promises of God and the one to whom God made His covenant with had not even a foot of ground.  He was the one to whom God said, “I have made you a father of many nations”.  And he didn’t even have a foot of ground.  What a claim.  He is the father of many nations and yet at that time he didn’t even own a foot of ground.  Surely God spoke what was not as if it were.  Even though in the natural Abraham had to pitch his tents as a stranger in the land, he still believed God when He said, “I have made you a father of many nations”.  And because of this God credited to Abraham righteousness. 

What a blessed thing to be credited righteousness from God. 

What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[xv] 

But what do we have as a credit on our behalf as the church?  For most of us have cast aside our hope of salvation unlike our father Abraham who did not cast aside his hope.  Yet we still expect the same praise from God that our father Abraham received.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  So again what do we have as a credit on our behalf?  Did we cast aside our hope for eternal life because we despised God and His grace?  We cast it aside because we were taught that we had it already.  Our father Abraham had not one foot of ground to call his own and he is credited righteousness.  We on the other hand have been taught we have our promises from God the day we said our sinner’s prayer at the altar.  Again what do we have to credit on our behalf before God?

I can hear the arguments coming back to me already.  We are the New Testament and Abraham is of the Old Testament.  This being true, Abraham is still our example in the faith.  If his promises are not as perfect as the covenant we have received should our shame and condemnation be twice deserved for us who reject the hope presented in our better covenant.  Abraham was credited righteousness because he hoped in God’s promises of those things that are not as if they were.  Yet we call those things that are not as if they were.  As if we are superior to scripture and don’t have to wait for Christ as scripture teaches.  From the pulpits we have been taught a different gospel and a different hope from that of our father Abraham.  When scripture teaches we have the same gospel and the same hope as Abraham.

We New Testament believers have a hope that we too may receive the promised eternal life.  If we truly have been called by Him who calls, we have a hope of the promised eternal life.  If we are the ones who have been called should we say to God and shame our father Abraham, we take possession of our promise today?  Or should we with humble hearts and obedient lives hope until our hope comes from heaven, even Jesus?  Since our hope is that we may, as His called ones, receive the promised eternal life let us be pleasing to God in our faith in His promises. 

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.[xvi] 

Boy doesn’t this sound just like the other scripture we have discussed? 

so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.[xvii] 

Christ died as our ransom to bear our sins when He first came.  And when He returns He will give us our promised eternal unseen inheritance of salvation.  Praise the Lord God for He is good!

God by His Holy Spirit has already summed it up quite nicely when He let the writer pen this testimony. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.[xviii] 

It is my hope by this time in our conversation that I do not have to point to the hope we have been birth into.  Nor the inheritance kept for us in heaven or our faith (hoping for what we do not have) keeping us under God’s shielding power until our salvation comes and is revealed in the last days.  Since the Holy Spirit is at work in us all to see the truth of the gospel presented in God’s word, the gospel according to the gospel.

God has testified in His word again and again about our hope as New Testament believers the salvation that is yet to be ours.  Our hope in eternal life that we will one day posses after we have received our reward, His kingdom prepared for us since the creation of the world. 

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.[xix] 

So yes there are those scriptures that say we are saved and there are those scriptures that say we have a hope of salvation.  Yes there are those scriptures that say we have eternal life and those that say we have hope of eternal life.  It is not that God is incoherent?  We like our father Abraham find ourselves hearing from God His promises to us.  We have no grounds to boast over our father Abraham when it comes to the promises of God concerning us.  He had to hope in God’s promises and so do we.  He was credited righteousness for his faith in God’s promises and so are we when we don’t leave the narrow path for a different gospel but cling to the hope we have in Christ, just like those whose letters we read when we read our Bibles.

Since this is the truth presented in scripture pertaining to our gospel, as we have had passed down to us from more reliable men than those who teach us today, let me ask a simple question.  If we had been saved as we teach from most pulpits in America what is meant by working out salvation? 

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,[xx] 

If we have the free gift of eternal life when we said the sinner’s prayer, what is meant by working out your salvation?  Are we now to understand we are to earn our salvation?  No, I still believe scripture teaches that our salvation and eternal life is our gift from God.  So what is meant by working out your salvation?

You are recalling how it says we are saved by grace and by grace we have been saved.  Isn’t this right?  If it says so plainly we have been saved by grace then why do I say the gospel says we will be saved?  Why is Paul talking about working out something we say we already posses?  What is left to work out after all if we already have it?  After all Peter addressing the church says they are saved just as much as the gentiles in what God was doing among them. 

No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”[xxi] 

We are seeing God who is unchanging speaking what is not as if it were in our gospel as He has done with our Father Abraham.  What a privilege that God would grant us the same promises He gave to Abraham and find us worthy of the same faith to speak what is not to us as if it were in our own gospel.

When we look at scripture we find there are a lot of statements that have the word “will” in front of it.  Like, “will be saved”.  Is this future tense word, this future tense happening meaning immediately or some time after an event happens?  For instance we take the following verse and interpret it as meaning right at the point of believing. 

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  [xxii]

 But it doesn’t say right at the point of conversion, the point of first belief we are transformed into a state of saved.  From this verse how do we know it isn’t 20 minutes later or decades later or some other time later?  The statement is not “is save” but “will be saved”, yet we interpret it to say “is saved”.  Now is this following what scripture teaches about our gospel?

We read this verse and conclude we are saved at the moment of our good confession when it says will.  But don’t we turn around and understand the unbelievers in the same verse will be condemned in a future event?  Don’t we know and understand they will be in a state of condemnation when Christ comes, then it will be too late?  Don’t we understand and know if they die without Christ they die without hope and are condemned?  So how can we have it both ways?  How can we say we get our salvation the day we believe and the unbeliever will get his in the end?

So again I ask you, what does it mean to work out our salvation?  If we will be saved as we teach and preach, meaning today, then what is left to work out?  Are we going to say the work of Christ is imperfect and not able to save completely all who believe?  That this work of Christ and His blood is not complete and secure? 

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.[xxiii] 

Or is the problem in us?  Could it be Christ work is perfect but we have not seen this work complete in us?  Why else would Christ have too intercede for us if we are saved?  If He can save completely then why the need to intercede?  Could it be He is able to save and has not yet?  Could it be He earned the way to save us on the cross but He hasn’t saved us yet, but He is able to save us at any time.  Isn’t this why we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation ready to be revealed in the last day?  Isn’t it true He is our ransom but we haven’t been ransomed yet?  Isn’t that He redeemed us when He first came and when He comes again He will bring us salvation?  Isn’t that we need to live our faith and hope in Christ in order to make our hope sure and this is why He intercedes for us?

Here is a favorite verse of a lot of us believers. 

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[xxiv] 

So what is the scripture telling us?  Is it saying everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved or will be saved?  I am simply asking the questions since there are many verses that I have put forth in our conversation about the gospel that point to our future hope of salvation and future hope of eternal life.  In light of these scriptures of our future hope we still want to read into the text of scripture is and not believe or accept what is written for us to believe, will be

Please tell me which is more scriptural as we have received it? 

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.[xxv] 

To read this scripture as is saved or will be saved?  Ok, if you admit it says will be saved then why do we believe it to mean is saved?

Yes I can hear you.  For you it is no different than saying if one opens their eyes the will see.  Their seeing happens when they open their eyes.  Some of us would say this is the same for our gospel.  If the convert believes they will be saved.  They are saved when they believe.  Just like the seeing when one opens their eyes.  If I can understand where you are coming from and how you understand the text, then how can I stubbornly say scripture teaches we are not yet saved?

Who amongst us would tell someone if they keep their eyes open to the very end they will see?  We would say none of us, for that would be stupid.  The person would start seeing the moment they had opened their eyes.  Isn’t this right?  But we are told we will be saved if we are firm in our faith to the end. 

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.[xxvi] 

We take the above verses that speak of anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved and apply is saved.  Nullifying the message of scripture that we need to stand firm or chance not being saved when all is said and done.  We strip this exhortation of all it’s importance to us with our church gospel.  We justify this interpretation saying the will be becomes the is when the belief is manifested.  If this is the case then why do we have to stand firm to the end to be saved?  If this is true then why do we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?  If you or I stand firm to the end in our faith we will be saved.  What ever that end may be whether in death or Christ return, we have to work out our salvation and stand firm in it or jeopardize our hope in Christ.

I know there is no comfort in what I am saying.  The gospel we preach and teach is much more comforting.  I too would like to believe I have eternal security from the moment I first believed, but how can any of us take comfort when we who are still alive have not taken possession of what we hope in because our end has not yet come? 

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.[xxvii] 

Paul understood this.  Not only did he teach it as the gospel, he applied it to his own life. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.[xxviii] 

How is it our teachers teach us we don’t have to apply this to our own lives and at the same time we and our teachers identify ourselves with the gospel of Paul?  Paul preached it and applied it to his own life, but we teach and preach salvation apparently we somehow fall exempt from this hope held out in the gospel.  We get saved and locked in the moment we confess Jesus as Lord and we are good to go.  By believing this way we will deny the above verse.  Even Paul realized his prize his inheritance was kept for him.  That for which Christ had lay of him was yet to come.  Could it be that Paul was thinking of God’s plan A.

I know I have quoted scripture that says we are saved or that He has saved us and for most of us this is where our understanding of our gospel stops.  I have countless years under my own belt believing the same thing.  I was converted believing it.  It was confirmed from the pulpit over and over again and I never questioned it.  For fun let’s look at some more verses.

Here is one that fits the model we preach and teach, right? 

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.[xxix] 

Yep it says He saved us twice in that there scripture.  This is what we teach and preach.  We preach He saved us not because we are so righteous but because He is merciful.  Doesn’t this sound familiar?  So on one hand we preach we have eternal life because we are saved but this scripture continues to say we have the hope of eternal life.  We are only heirs and not possessors of this eternal life.  Hence it is a hope.  What do we do with this scripture if we want to say and believe we are saved at the altar as we teach our converts?

I have a wonderful idea on what we can do with this text.  We can apply what it says.  Paul list a whole bunch of things that are examples of behaviors that we are guilty of because we were slaves to sin.  But now in Christ we can say we are saved from this life of sin.  We are no longer slaves to sin.  Isn’t this the true meaning of what it means in the present time for us to be saved.  We are saved from the corrupted life of sin.  Isn’t this a real saving of us?  If you disagree with me on this, which of the above sinful items is a person better with in their lives than without.  If they are not better with but their lives are better without then isn’t this the saving that happens to us?  We are saved from a corruptible life that leads to death.

We are saved from a life of sin and no longer are we slaves to sin but to righteousness.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.[xxx] 

If we are His sons we are no longer slaves to sin.  So it really is something to say we have been saved from a life of sin.  First of all we become sons who have an inheritance.  Secondly we live better lives when are lives are not torn apart by the wages of sins we commit.  If it is Christ who sets us free from the power of sin are not we truly saved in that sense today while we wait for Him to bring us our salvation?

Again scripture teaches flat out as believers our sinful nature was done away with and we are no longer slaves to sin.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.[xxxi]  

The gospel according to the gospel teaches us when we with all our hearts obey the gospel of scripture we are set free from sin.  Praise God He has saved us from a life of continual sin!  Shouldn’t we all rejoice at our freedom in Christ? 

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.[xxxii] 

So now brothers since we have been saved from sin let us reap a holiness that will lead to eternal life.  That is right, holiness leads to eternal life.  Which one of us has come to the end of his life of holiness at the altar when you first believed?  Or is this life of holiness lived in the believers life and the result will be eternal life.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.[xxxiii] 

Isn’t wonderful how the gospel according to the gospel is so consistent.  Even in our being saved from a life of sin we still hear the hope held out in the gospel, holiness will result in eternal life.

We say we are saved because of the above scripture.  We are washed in the blood, reconciled to God and are now justified have eternal life.  Isn’t this our gospel?  Don’t we comfort ourselves in church and our new converts by telling them they are saved and have eternal life?  The deal is secure, it is all wrapped up and finished, they and we are good to go.  Yet the scripture says we have become heirs who have a hope of eternal life.  We are heirs if we live in holiness.

Maybe this is why it is said:

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.[xxxiv]

It truly appears to me the gospel according to the gospel is consistent and without contradiction to me.  That yes the obedient believer has a hope of salvation and has a hope of eternal life when they live a holy life, even till the end.

Please don’t make me quote it again.  But I feel I must.  It is so important for us all to understand the gospel we put our hope in. 

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.[xxxv] 

This verse too mentions us being saved but we don’t tend to lay hold of the gospel presented in these verses.  We will lay hold of the phrase “He saved us” and stop there.  Beyond that we have our fingers in our ears and we talk over the rest of the gospel.  I did this as a kid to taunt my siblings.  Should we take this same approach with the gospel in which we say we believe and have eternal life and fellowship with God?

I hope we are all aware it is the same Paul who wrote “He saved us” as the Paul who wrote “in this hope we were saved”.  Our salvation, our state of being saved is a hope.  We believers are heirs and as heirs we know that we have an inheritance that comes from Christ.  Part of this inheritance is our salvation and the grace to be given us when He returns for those who are waiting for Him and have stood firm to the end.  Isn’t this the hope held out in the gospel?  Paul says we hope for it and confirms that we do not yet have it by asking his readers, “who hopes for what he already has?” 

So let us run around all we want shouting we are saved.  Ready, set, go!  Just remember our being saved according to the gospel of scripture is a hope in the promises of God.  How can it be made any clearer?  Our salvation is based on our hope in the promises of God just like the father of our faith, Abraham.  We have been justified before God, we are reconciled to Him through the blood of Jesus and now we have the hope of salvation and eternal life because our sins are no longer held against us.  Praise God!  But now we must be His people not only by confession but in deed.

Ok, some of us are still bothered by what I am saying.  I understand.  This whole thing is vexing.  Who wants to be born into something that isn’t quite what we thought it was?  Who amongst us truly wants to know and be with God, yet not have a perfect clarity of what scriptures says?  Who wants to be taught and have confirmed a slightly different gospel than what is overwhelmingly presented in scripture?  I know I don’t. 

If it is unnerving to realize that our gospel that was passed down to us by our teachers is different than the gospel passed down to us by scripture.  If it bothers us to be born into something different than what is taught in scripture, then I invite you to be born again into our hope and inheritance of the saints.  Let us be like our father Abraham who hoped and believed God and was credited a righteousness not his own.  If we want to brag we are saved let us brag we are saved into a hope.  Let us brag we are saved from being slaves to sin.  So quote those scriptures all we want, but let us understand every time we say we are saved let us acknowledge the hope to which we were saved.  Not the salvation we don’t yet have.

Ah, finally one of you has brought it up.  Yes Jesus Himself has spoken of our salvation.  We may have a good debate after all in this defense of the gospel. 

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”[xxxvi] 

Yes he told the woman that her faith saved her.  And don’t we tell those who gather around the pulpit who have come forward for salvation the same thing?  In fact He told her just before this her sins were forgiven.  Ah ha so now I am on the run.  Here it is in the simplest form.  Here it is in black and white.  We are saved when are sins are forgiven, right?

Did Jesus really tell the woman something different than what I have been presenting through other scriptures about the gospel?  Here we have this verse pitted against the other scripture?  Boy that would be neat, huh!  Scripture against scripture, or is there some misapplication on our part?  Is God the boob for having contrary scripture or are we the boob for not understanding?  Yes He told the woman her faith saved her, but is He telling us that we have heard but not understood?

The woman’s faith saved her.  The woman’s faith… Faith. 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for[xxxvii]

What!  The woman had hope.  The woman’s hope saved her?  She didn’t just put her hope in Jesus as the messiah.  She had promises from the gospel of the Law in which she was hoping when she went to Jesus in the first place.  Her hope wasn’t without basis.  Because of the promises in gospel of the Law she put her hope in Jesus because she was sure he was the fulfillment of the promises.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.[xxxviii]

Is this what faith mean?  Faith is being sure of what we hope for.  In fact if I was to be more specific I would say, faith is being sure of what we hope for.  To put it another way, faith is being sure of what we hope for.  Faith isn’t a confession of belief as we understand faith in the church.  Faith is being sure of what we hope for.  Hope based on the good, the sure promises of God.  The woman didn’t believe as fact that Jesus was the messiah, for as much has been credited to demons.  She put her hope in the promises that He was the messiah.  That He was the Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of her peace.  Even though Jesus is in human form and humbled Himself as a man, she hoped in what the prophets had spoken about Him.

When we say we have faith, we in the church are saying we believe something as factual.  For how many of us is the understanding of belief and faith the same thing?  When we say I have faith we mean I believe.  But scripture wants us to say I believe by faith in that for which I hope.  Remember hoping for what we do not yet have.  Remember who hopes for what he already has.  Isn’t Jesus telling the woman her faith has saved her the same as saying her hope in what she does not yet have saved her?  Isn’t Jesus saying saved as into the hope, for into this hope we are saved and she too was saved into this hope.  Or how about the simple application of Him telling her she was saved from a life of sin.  Maybe that is why He always tells people to go and sin no more.

We throw the word faith around in our churches like it is the key that lets us into heaven.  We believe our professions of faith, as we understand it in church, guarantees us salvation on the day we say a prayer.  But not all faith saves.  We don’t usually teach that in church do we?  We go around teaching and telling everyone they need to have faith.  Again we understand it to mean accepting what we are told as fact and not doubting it.  Never are we told to believe in the promises concerning the hope of salvation.  Nor do we do qualify faith when we tell our hearers they must have faith.  Scripture does. 

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?[xxxix] 

Apparently not all confessions of faith save.

Not only is there a faith that doesn’t save there is a belief that one can have and yet not be saved. 

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.[xl] 

We can find ourselves with a faith that will not save us and/or find ourselves with a belief that will not save us.  No wonder Jesus said we needed to make every effort to enter the narrow gate because many will try and not be able too.

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.[xli]

When was the last time you heard that from the pulpit?  When was the last time you heard that from those who say the preach the whole council of God?  I have not made this up.  This is from our gospel that we put our hope in.  According to the gospel of scripture, saying I believe in Jesus or put my faith in Him we do not have a shoe in.  Is it because we can loose our salvation?  No, it is because we can fall away from the faith and loose our hope in the gospel which promises us our salvation.  We can literally be off the wide path and on the narrow path and still not make it.  I was lead to believe those on the narrow path find life.  How about you?

We are instructed by scripture to hold firmly to the gospel that Paul preached, the gospel according to the gospel if we want to have the hope of being saved.  If we abandon the gospel presented in scripture and replace it with what we are taught from the pulpit, Paul’s teaching says we will have believed in vain.  With such belief and faith we will still find ourselves outside of salvation and God’s grace even though our sins have been paid for.  This is why it is so important for His church to understand the gospel according to the gospel.  So who really is the good shepherd who has the heart of the Father?  Remember what Jesus said.  He said many will try to enter through the narrow gate and not be able to enter.  This is why we need to understand what true faith is and not believe the gospel in vain.

If ones true confession is what saves us at the moment we first believe, as we teach in church, why does Paul talk of a process of being saved when he writes to those believers the Corinthian church? 

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.[xlii] 

How many of us tell our converts and preach to the congregation we are in the process of being saved?  Or do we tell them they are saved the moment they said the sinner’s prayer?  And if they already said the sinner’s prayer they are now saved. 

For those of us who insist on teaching this other gospel that we teach and confirm in our churches, should we now stand in condemnation of Paul for preaching contrary to our doctrine?  For his gospel doesn’t agree with our gospel.  We teach our congregations they are saved.  Paul addressing the believers in Rome, told them his and their salvation was nearer than when they first believed. 

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.[xliii] 

How can it be nearer if the believer already has it?  Should we now condemn this statement from Paul?  How dare him to mislead the Roman believers.  After all we would never tell the ones who came forward in our services their salvation is closer now than when they first believed.  We instead teach them they are as saved as when they first believed.  Paul includes himself in his statement when he says, “our salvation is nearer now”.  He understood this to be true for not only his hearers but himself.  For those of us who still believe in the gospel Paul preached shouldn’t we say of ourselves, our salvation is nearer now then when we first believed?  But for those of us who don’t teach or adhere to the gospel Paul preached, what right do we have to say anything about our salvation?

For those of us who insist on teaching this other gospel, don’t we recall the warning we have received from John even though he wrote it as a promise? 

See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is what he promised us–even eternal life.[xliv] 

John did not write, “and this is what He gave us—even eternal life”.  No, he wrote, “this is what He promised us”.  The promise to us who have laid hold of the gospel preached in scripture, is a hope that we will have eternal life.  If we remain in the teaching that is presented in scripture, it will cause us to remain in the Son and the Father.  For those of us who have not remained in the gospel presented in God’s word have this as a warning.  If we do not remain in this teaching but go after another gospel we do not remain in the Son nor the Father, we have lost our promise of the hope for eternal life.  That is if you want to believe scripture.  For we are discovering what was taught in the beginning is not what we are taught today.

In accordance to what scripture teaches us about our gospel, Paul in another place says we are being saved.  

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.[xlv] 

Not only is the gospel saying we are in process to receive our salvation as we live our lives in faith in the hope of the promises of God, it says this gospel of hope is the power of God.  How ironic it is that many of our churches seek the power of God in their services and yet by declaring a new convert saved they avoid the essence of the power of God.  For the gospel according to the gospel doesn’t say to those of us who are saved it is the power of God, does it?  His power is for those of us who are being saved.

So what should we say?  Should we say we should go and do as we always have been taught to go and do?  Or should we reject the gospel of that generation before us, who has preached to us a different gospel other than the one of whom Paul and the others preached that we find in scripture? 

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”[xlvi] 

Let us all say we will serve the Lord and not the gospel of our fathers but the gospel of our God.  Let us all say as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Since we have now no excuse although we never did, since scripture is clear,

so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.[xlvii] 

Let us not shrink back from serving the Lord

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.[xlviii] 

There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called[xlix] a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,[l]

Even to Abraham, the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets.  Let us be like those who have gone before us in defending this gospel of hope.

Let us not shrink back from defending the gospel and be like Paul before us who has testified. 

And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today.  This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.[li] 

Even Paul in the defense of himself said years after Christ had went back to heaven the twelve tribes still hoped in what God promised their fathers.  Even Paul himself hopes in these promises to his fathers.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.[lii] 

Not shrinking back in shame concerning the gospel we have received from the scriptures.  Rejecting the other gospel of the generation before us, let us be willing to be shamed by all men and count all things as lost even to the point of chains. 

For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”[liii] 

In our defense of the gospel according to the gospel and not according to men’s doctrine, customs and practices remember how we should consider ourselves. 

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained.[liv] 


[i] I John 5:11-13

[ii] Hebrews 3:14

[iii] John 5:24-25

[iv] John 6:47

[v] John 3:36

[vi] Psalms 18:30

[vii] Isaiah 53:1-9

[viii] Romans 11:33-34

[ix] Romans 4:17

[x] Ephesians 2:4-9

[xi] Revelations 3:21-22

[xii] Hebrews 11:6

[xiii] Matthew 25:31-34

[xiv] Acts 7:5

[xv] Romans 4:3

[xvi] Hebrews 9:15

[xvii] Hebrews 9:28

[xviii] I Peter 1:3-5

[xix] Jude 1:21

[xx] Philippians 2;12

[xxi] Acts 15:11

[xxii] Mark 16:16

[xxiii] Hebrews 7:25

[xxiv] Acts 2:21

[xxv] John 10:9

[xxvi] Matthew 10:22

[xxvii] I Corinthians 15:2

[xxviii] Philippians 3:12

[xxix] Titus 3:3-7

[xxx] John 8:34-36

[xxxi] Romans 6:6-7

[xxxii] Romans 6:17-18

[xxxiii] Romans 6:22

[xxxiv] Hebrews 12:14

[xxxv] Romans 8:24-25

[xxxvi] Luke 7:50

[xxxvii] Hebrews 11:1-2

[xxxviii] Isaiah 9:6-7

[xxxix] James 2:14

[xl] I Corinthians 15:2

[xli] Luke 13:24

[xlii] II Corinthians 2:15

[xliii] Romans 13:11

[xliv] I John 2:24-25

[xlv] I Corinthians 1:18

[xlvi] Joshua 24:15

[xlvii] Titus 3:7

[xlviii] I Thessalonians 5:8

[xlix] Ephesians 4:4

[l] Titus 1:2

[li] Acts 26:6-7

[lii] II Corinthians 3;12

[liii] Acts 28:20

[liv] Philippians 3:7-16

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