Possessing by Faith
In this Bible study I want to deal with the number one area of struggle for anyone coming out of a works righteousness religious group such as the United Pentecostal Church. Hopefully this subject will be a blessing to all our members.
This is Bible Study DU025 - Possessing by Faith.
One of the worship songs we sing at Christian Challenge includes, 'To possess by faith what I could not earn, all surpassing gift of righteousness.'
The song is entitled 'Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear)' by Graham Kendrick. The entire song reaches into the heart of our salvation through Jesus Christ.
As a prelude to this study I want to share the lyrics of this song. Read them with your heart. I'll then share how a works-righteousness religious group actually robs God's people of their true salvation heritage in Christ.
Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear) Kendrick
All I once held dear, built my life upon,
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
The theme of every works-righteousness religion is that somehow salvation is something that has to be earned before the person can be accepted by Jesus Christ. The end result are fear doctrines that keep members in bondage. Fear-generated doctrines leave adherents never knowing for certain when they are ultimately saved.
After all which work on their part determines the finality of their salvation? And if there is one sin left undone, this can mean a consignment to hell.
How horrible are these fear-generated teachings. In light of these kinds of doctrines, the apostle John said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears [punishment] is not perfected in love." (1Jn 4:18 - Meaning that God's love still has a work to do in this believer's life if we continue to live with a sense of condemnation or uncertainly about our salvation.)
The apostle Paul said, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1) In the Greek tenses this literally says, "There is not now nor can there ever be a damnatory sentence against any person who is in Christ Jesus."
How can the apostles speak such fear-destroying statements? They belong to the gospel of the finished work of Christ. Jesus not only died on the cross for our sins, that is, for the whole of our sinful existence, but there was a life-exchange that took place through the work of the cross. This is why the cross is called 'the finished work' of Christ.
The completed work of our salvation means that the enemy can never again bring a charge against any person who has received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Your life is now hidden in Christ. This is what makes our salvation complete.
But how can this be? The reason is because the work of the cross is so complete that the very life of Jesus is placed on the account of every believer. Thus God is able to give us His very own righteousness.
John explains why and how God's powerful love is able to cast out all fears of condemnation. Listen carefully: "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He [Christ] is, so also are we in this world." (1Jn 4:17 - God has literally clothed us with the very righteousness of Jesus.)
Thus Paul says that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (How Romans 8 completes itself.)
Is any of this contingent on anything that we can do by our own works? Not a thing. In fact any idea of works will distort the message of the gospel. The only thing needed is for a person to believe in Jesus, that is, in the true message of the cross.
Listen to what Jesus said:
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the son (obedience involves repentance) will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Jn 3:35 - Especially directed to the Jewish people during time of Christ.)
"Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." (Jn 5:24)
"Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." (Jn 6:47)
"The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given concerning His Son." (1Jn 5:10)
Need I share more? I would encourage any member who is struggling over the issue of salvation to take time to read Galations. Paul placed a curse on any preacher who would add forms of works to our completed salvation in Christ. How can you add to something that is perfect?
The one thing required of any human to possess salvation in Christ, is for them to call upon the name of the Lord in a true acceptance of Jesus as their own Lord and Savior. Both Paul and Peter said that 'Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.'
The point being that once a human truly confesses Jesus Christ, there is a transfer of that person from under the authority of darkness, into the authority and kingdom of God's beloved Son. In this transfer the newly born human is given a change of clothing. They give up their old sinful tattered garments, and are given the very garment of Jesus Christ. From that moment on they are clothed with Christ.
In this transfer of authority the newly born human is provided with a Christ-like nature, and though they can and will stumble at times, their new nature will not allow them to remain in a stumbling state. Sin will remain contrary to their new nature in Christ.
Not only is this newly born human clothed with Christ, but this new member of God's family is positionally placed on the throne of Jesus, with Jesus, and thus becomes part of the royal family of the Father.
But it doesn't stop here --- This new member of God's family also becomes a full heir of God, thus all that Jesus inherited through the finished work of the cross, this new member of God's family also inherits. (Every statement that I have made has contexual Bible to back it up.)
If all this is true, then what is the problem? The problem is when we add any kind of works to earning our salvation, God's salvation cannot be extended to us. A doctrine of works destroys anything that could be received by faith. It is never faith plus works. Salvation is the free gift of God's grace. And any works involved in our walk with the Lord will be after-the-fact.
Salvation is the message of the cross. This means that by faith we are to experience the death side of the cross, and the life side of the cross. The death side means that we renounce any personal goodness on our part, any form of earning our salvation, any attempt to justify ourselves before God, and in coming to the cross we fully accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in place of our own death and sacrifice. We experience death to our former existence as sinners against God.
Passing through the cross means that we come out on the life side. And so both the death of Christ and the life of Christ become our own realities. The work of the cross is placed on our account.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on February 26, 2007. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added February 28, 2007
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