Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Faith = Salvation + Works.
Last week I was preaching the gospel on the beautiful island of Grenada in the South Carbibean. (I know what you're thinking and I agree with you. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.) Given that I was already feeling completely guilty for enjoying the refreshing ocean breeze of the Caribbean while my friends and family were suffering through winter storms in Missouri, I decided that there had to be some reason why God had sent me to this lovely island. It did not take me that long to discover the reason. I was told that over 30 percent of the island had been swept into the heresy of Seventh Day Adventism. Seventh Day Adventists believe that in addition to faith in Jesus, you have to observe the sabbath on Saturday to be saved. In other words, in their view, salvation consists of faith in Jesus plus strict observance of the Law of Moses. So their equation of salvation goes something like this: Faith + Works = Salvation. This idea is basically a rehash of the Galatian heresy that the Apostle Paul wrote the entire book of Galatians to contradict. If you think the word "heresy" is a little too strong a word to use in our postmodern relativistic age, you may be doubly offended at what the Apostle Paul had to say about those who sought to impose Judaism on Gentile believers. He wished that those who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation would simply "mutilate themselves" (Galatians 5:12)! Although Paul would certainly not win an award for diplomacy, his logic was crystal clear. "If righteousness comes through the law, than Christ died in vain." (Galatians 2:21) Elsewhere he writes "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28) What does the word "conclude" mean? It means end of discussion! The true equation for salvation is Faith = Salvation + Works. We are saved by faith plus nothing. Our works are evidence that our faith in Christ is genuine. In other words, true faith will always result in a changed life (Ephesians 2:10). I find it interesting that Seventh Day Adventists claim to believe the entire New Testament, which would include the writings of Paul. Perhaps these modern day Judaizers need to double check their references.