Dear Mormon—I Can’t Call You a Brother in Christ

Dear Mormon—I Can’t Call You a Brother in Christ

Yesterday I had lunch with a very kind and gracious man in our community.  This man is a committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  In short, my friend is a Mormon.  He was respectful, gracious, and I enjoyed our conversation very much.  However, at one point the conversation shifted and he asked me if I was willing to call him a brother in Christ?

I explained that we both hold to very different doctrines that cannot stand in harmony—especially the teachings about the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He said that he was offended by that statement.  I acknowledged how that would be offensive, but I must stand upon the gospel of Christ.  The most loving thing I could do would be to point him to the truth.  The most unloving thing I could do would be to ignore the differences and embrace him as a brother in Christ.

The devil is the father of all lies and he is really good at causing people to embrace error as truth.  How do you determine the difference between denominations of Christianity and other religions outside of Christianity?  In other words, we know that Baptists and Methodists are quite different on many theological levels, but they’re both Christian denominations.  Today, a growing number of people continue to purport the idea that Mormonism is just another denomination like Methodists within the family of orthodox Christianity.

How can we determine if Mormonism is Christian or cult?  Based on foundational doctrinal evidence—I can’t embrace Mormons as fellow Christians.

Mormonism Rejects the Sufficiency of the Bible

If you can add to the authoritative body of teachings of the church each year by a vote—it would make the religion more fluid and apt to change with culture or adapt over time based on pressures from the culture.  This is true of the Roman Catholic Church regarding their belief regarding the RCC’s official tradition.  The same thing is true of the Mormon religion.  At one point polygamy was defended as permissible, but later it was changed.

Christians stand upon the absolute sufficiency of God’s Word—something that does not change with time, circumstances, and geographic location.  Not one other source from church history is needed outside of God’s Word alone as the sufficient guide for God’s revelation of himself to humanity.  For the Mormons, they hold to a group of writings called the “Four Standard Works.”  This body includes the King James Version of the Bible (as properly translated), the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and The Book of Mormon.

Anytime a religion adds books to the same divine level as God’s Word—that should cause an immediate red flag to be raised.  Consider what Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (History of the Church,4:461).

Mormonism Rejects the Deity of Jesus

While the Mormons do uphold Jesus as “a god”—they do not embrace Jesus as “very God of very God” who is one with the Father (John 10:30; John 8:58).  Mormons believe Jesus is a god, but they also believe it’s possible for any human to become a god (Doctrine and Covenants 132:20; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345–354).  In John 10:33, we find these important words:

The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

The driving reason that Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross was on the basis of his teachings—which threatened the authority and teaching of the religious establishment of the day.  Jesus made it clear that he is God.  If Jesus is the Creator of all things—how can he be a created being?  That does not make sense and it certainly doesn’t align with the Word of God.  Mormons claim that Jesus was the first of the spirit beings begotten through a physical relationship between Elohim and one of his many heavenly wives.  This is in clear violation to Matthew 1:20, but nevertheless, they maintain aberrant doctrines about God the Father existing in flesh like a perfect man who would be capable of such a relationship.

According to the Articles of Faith on the Godhead, the LDS doctrine of God consists of a God who possesses a physical body.  In comparing the LDS beliefs with Christian doctrine, their Articles of Faith read, “But where Latter-day Saints differ from other Christian religions is in their belief that God and Jesus Christ are glorified, physical beings and that each member of the Godhead is a separate being.”  Jesus said something quite different in John 4:24, “God is spiritand those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Mormons are not Christians based on several key teachings.  Some of those troubling teachings include the spirit brotherhood of Satan and Jesus, the baptism for the dead, a racial problem, a polytheistic view of many gods, and a clear denial of the Trinity. These teachings stand in clear contradiction to the teachings of God’s Word—and have never been embraced as merely another Christian denomination.

Mormons have a troubling past with Joseph Smith Jr.—the founder who had multiple wives—one of whom was only 14 when he was 39.  Their troubling past also includes a lengthy letter by Professor Charles Anthon of Columbia University who was said to validate the translation of Jospeh Smith’s writings (Book of Mormon) from the “Golden Plates.”  According to Professor Anthon, “The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be ‘reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics’ is perfectly false.”  While all of these things are troubling—none are more troublesome than their rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ as second Person of the Godhead who is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.

In short, the Mormons have one Jesus and the Christians have a very different  Jesus.  Make no mistake—they aren’t the same Jesus.  For that reason—I can’t call my Mormon friend my brother in Christ.  I want to, but I simply can’t.  Therefore, I will continue to have such gospel conversations praying that God will open his eyes to the truth.

 

The Gift of Sleep

The Gift of Sleep

Certainly kings understand what it means to bear the responsibility of leadership over a nation, over armies, and to consistently be aware of head hunters.  That’s why Psalm 127 is unique since it was written by Solomon—both the son of a king and one who succeeded his father David to the throne.  What we find in this short psalm is a reminder that we are to work hard for the glory of God and sleep well.

How many people do you know who can’t sleep because they are so worried about their work?  Often such people pride themselves in burning the candle at both ends.  In our culture of greed, it’s an honorable character trait to work endless hours, go to bed late, and rise up early to continue the labor.  The world cheers on that type of unending rat race of selfish ambition.

Solomon understood what it was like to go to bed at night with a nation depending upon him.  He understood what it was like to rise up early with people looking to him for firm and consistent leadership.  Yet, Solomon in a great stroke of wisdom, pens the following words:

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep (Pslam 127:2).

Solomon was looked to as an earthly sovereign, but as a child of God he understood that God was the Sovereign King who rules and reigns over the entire world.  R.C. Sproul has rightly stated, ““If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”  Nothing moves or exists without the sovereign decree of God.  All things are under the rule of God including, heaven, earth, clouds, rain, snow, ice, bees, bears, locusts, lions, and thrones.  God literally holds our next breath in His hands.

If you know anything about American cities, the city of New York is nicknamed “the city that never sleeps.”  The city is always full of lights and cars and people.  It’s common to see people always moving about—going to work, carrying out their labor, and trying to move up the corporate ladder all hours of the day and night.  Often, Christians fall into the trap of eating the bread of anxious toil like the rest of our culture.  Charles Spurgeon explains, “Through faith the Lord makes his chosen ones to rest in him in happy freedom from care…those whom the Lord loves are delivered from the fret and fume of life.” [1]

The Baptist catechism asks a very important question.  It asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is provided, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  When we rise up early and prepare for work and then go out and perform our labor for the glory of God, we should return home tired and sleep well at night.  However, when our labor is carried out with selfish ambition we will continue to work and seldom slow down to sleep and rest in God—who never sleeps.

If we learn to work hard for an honest day’s wage—we can trust in God who always provides for His people (Matt. 6:33).  If a person labors for selfish purposes, it naturally produces anxiety and inner turmoil to be successful.  The next time you are tempted to think you are responsible to keep the whole world moving forward—remember your body will eventually tell you that you need sleep.  It’s a simple reminder that you aren’t God.  It’s also a blessing to rest and have assurance that God is never sleeping, He is always alert, and God is able to honor the labor that is carried out for His glory.  Each day we should work hard, come home tired, and sleep well.


  1. Charles Spurgeon, Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries, ed. J. I. PACKER, “Introduction,” (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 273.

 

Three Reasons Why Jesus Was Hated

Three Reasons Why Jesus Was Hated

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why Jesus is so hated in our culture?  We must remember, hating Jesus has always been a popular position by many different cultures.  In fact, any society that rejects God ultimately rejects Jesus.  This has been the case from the beginning of time.

As we read through the Bible, we see three main reasons why the people of Jesus’ day hated him.  That same hatred continues to compound from generation to generation.

Jesus Confronted Empty Religion

One glance at the twenty third chapter of Matthew’s Gospel will reveal the polemical style of Jesus’ ministry.  While Jesus was not always polemical in his approach to preaching and teaching, he certainly did confront the empty religiosity of the scribes and Pharisees.  On one chapter alone (Matthew 23), Jesus is recorded as having used the “woe to you” bombshell seven times.  In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus said:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

It was John Calvin who said, “a pastor needs two voices, one for gathering the sheep and the other for driving away wolves and thieves.” [1]  Jesus certainly possessed both voices.  As the Good Shepherd, Jesus called his sheep to him and they heard his voice clearly.  As the Prophet greater than Moses, Jesus spoke with authority and defended the truth of God’s Word from the hypocrisy of the legalists and false teachers of his day.  For that, Jesus was hated.

Jesus Loved the Outcasts

The religious leaders of the day hated Jesus.  He did not spend time with them nor did Jesus show them honor as they were accustomed to receiving from the community at large.  Instead, Jesus spent time with the outcasts, the poor, the lowly, the sick, the needy, and the helpless.  Consider the fact that Jesus called a group of disciples together from the fishing industry and tax collection.  Those people were looked down upon greatly—yet Jesus called them to himself and after discipling them—he sent them out on a mission.  Their mission turned the world upside down.

According to Matthew 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”  The religious establishment did not know what to do with Jesus—he broke their categories and confounded their minds.  Since the rabbinical society was the highest ranking class in the Jewish society—for Jesus to be a powerful teacher and to associate with the lowly and sinful was taboo.  While it was considered out of bounds by cultural standards, Jesus literally exemplified how the Church of Jesus should engage all classes of society.  For that, Jesus was hated.

Jesus Forgave Sinners

Out of all of Jesus’ miracles including turning water into wine, walking on water, feeding the 5,000, raising Lazarus from the dead, causing the lame to walk, the dumb to speak, and the deaf to hear—the greatest miracle was when Jesus revealed his power and authority to forgive sin.

Luke, in his Gospel, records a story about Jesus healing a paralyzed man who was brought to Jesus on his bed.  Because the crowd was so dense, the friends took the man onto the roof and took apart the roof and lowered the man in before the presence of Jesus.  Sitting around on the peripheral were scribes and Pharisees watching the whole scene unfold.  When Jesus saw their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Immediately, the scribes and Pharisees protested.  They said, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Luke 5:21)”  As everyone was intently watching the whole drama-filled scene unfold, Jesus responded to the religious leaders.

Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he said to the man who was paralyzed—’I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’ And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God (Luke 5:22-25).

Jesus was hated for many things, but at the heart of the religious community was an intense hatred for Jesus’ authority to forgive sins—an authority that transcended their own and it caused jealousy.  They didn’t believe Jesus looked like the promised Messiah.  And when Jesus taught, he did so with authority—unlike the scribes (Mark 1:22).  The reason Jesus was eventually nailed to a Roman cross was based on a fundamental rejection and hatred of Jesus’ divine authority.

When Jesus died, they thought their problem was finally gone.  When they heard news of the resurrection, they were greatly troubled.  Their only response was to lie.

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day (Matthew 28:11-15).

The world continues to find Jesus’ authority troubling.  They continue to spread and believe lies about Jesus ignorant of the reality of what will happen before the throne of God in the near future.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

Jesus’ Cross Was the Only Wonderful Cross

Jesus’ Cross Was the Only Wonderful Cross

How many songs do you know that ascribe beauty to the cross of Jesus?  There are many songs that use the adjective “wonderful” in some form or another to describe the cross of Christ.  Isaac Watts penned, “When I survey the wondrous cross.”  In the song, he writes these words:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

When was the last time you were singing about the wondrous cross and paused to ask yourself why something so harsh could be considered so wonderful?  The words wonderful and cross don’t seem to go in the same sentence naturally, and that points to the heart of the gospel (1 Pet. 2:24).

The Ignominious Cross

The Roman cross was an instrument of execution.  To die on the Roman cross was by far the most shameful way to die.  It was greatly despised by people in Jesus’ day and greatly feared.  The Romans referred to the cross as “the infamous stake.”  Every single movement while on the cross would send shocking waves of pain through the body.  In order to breathe, the person nailed to the cross would press with his feet and move the body upward to inhale and then back down to exhale.  That pattern would result in terrible pain.

Beyond the physical pain, execution by way of the Roman cross would deliver a heavy blow of emotional stress and pride crushing shame.  As people watched the criminal hanging on a cross beam naked and exposed—words of derision would be hurled upward like spears.  The Roman soldiers were not hospice nurses committed to making criminals comfortable.  They were executioners who found joy in watching people suffer.

The Wonderful Cross

The only way we can describe the cross of Jesus as a wonderful thing is to look at the whole story of what was being accomplished on that horrid instrument of suffering and shame.  Seven centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a prophet wrote these words, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (Is. 53:10).  As horrible as the cross was, it was the plan of God to save sinners.  It pleased the LORD to crush his own Son on the cross.

As we read in Psalm 22:1, we find these familiar words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  As Jesus died on the cross, he was quoting Psalm 22 in his anguish and pain.  Yet, we read on in the New Testament, and we find words of hope, words of light, words of salvation.  For instance, in 1 Peter 2:24, we find these glorious words written by Peter to describe what was accomplished on the cross:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Unlike the common criminal of the day, as Jesus was put to death, he didn’t take any of his own sins to the cross.  He took the sins of his people on himself as he was nailed there as the lamb of God (John 1:29).  It’s through Jesus’ death and suffering that we find hope and healing from the penalty of our sins.  Jesus suffered in our place as he received the crushing blow of the Father’s wrath.  Paul, writing to the church at Philippi, said these words:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:5-11).

Jesus, in his humanity died, but not just any death.  Notice the language of Paul as he emphasized the fact that Jesus was obedient to death—even death on a cross.  The second Person of the Trinity took upon human flesh and died in the most painful and shameful way during his day—the Roman cross.  Yet, it was a glorious scene of God’s saving grace.  The drama is intense, but the outcome is a wonderful thing to behold as Jesus saves his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).   J.C. Ryle writes,

The sufferings described in it [the crucifixion] would fill our minds with mingled horror and compassion if they had been inflicted on one who was only a man like ourselves. But when we reflect that the sufferer was the eternal Son of God, we are lost in wonder and amazement.

Only the cross of Jesus could be described as a wondrous cross.

 

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Soli Deo Gloria

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Soli Deo Gloria

Today I’m continuing a short 5-part series on the five solas of the Reformation.  This post would normally be posted on Tuesday, but since tomorrow happens to be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I will be writing a completely different article on that subject tomorrow.

The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  The slogans are:

  • Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  • Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  • Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  • Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  • Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)

Today’s focus is on the fifth sola—Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone). If the five solas are built upon the firm foundation of sola Scriptura—it’s appropriate that we come to understand that the work of God in saving sinners is all for the glory of God alone.  When Johann Tetzel and others would say, “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”  This was to ascribe glory to man’s alms or the Roman Catholic Church’s authority to make the transaction.  This is nothing but a blasphemous doctrine.

Why Soli Deo Gloria?

The work of salvation is a work of God alone.  Sure, man responds to God in the process, but not until the work of God has already been accomplished and put into motion.  Man is dead in trespasses and sin and cannot work his way to God, will his way to God, worship his way to God, or pay his way to God (Eph. 2:1-5).  Salvation in many evangelical circles has been reduced down to a three step process whereby people make a decision to follow Jesus by asking Jesus to come into their heart.

All throughout the Bible, we see that salvation is something far different than a human decision.  Salvation, as Jonah said, “belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).  John the apostle, in his Gospel put emphasis on the fact that sinners are born of God (John 1:12-13).  He makes it clear that we are not born again by the will of man, the will of the flesh, by blood relationships, or any other common belief.  We are saved when we are born of God.  John returns to that same thought as he writes to a group of churches in his epistle known as 1 John.  He writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

Robert Robinson penned these famous words in 1758:

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

As the Bible places great emphasis upon the fact that God saves sinners and that the work of salvation is a work of God in divine mercy saving a people who not only don’t deserve to be saved, but are completely unable to save themselves—it only makes sense that salvation is for the glory of God alone.  That’s why the Reformers pointed back to God—not the pope, priests, saints, or any other religious hierarchy.  Salvation of fallen sinful man is to the praise of God alone.

The next time you hear people giving a congratulations to sinners who have just been rescued by the sovereign grace and mercy of God—remember that the sinner didn’t do anything to deserve or earn salvation.  Instead of praising the new Christian—we should praise God.

Last of all, let it be known that for us to praise God and for God to desire the praise and glory is not in the slightest degree sinful.  We should never equate the football player who struts into the end zone with arrogant chest pounding displays of human effort with God who desires the praise of His people.  When people desire to be praised it’s an ugly thing, but when God desires to be praised it’s a wonderful thing.  God’s jealousy is not birthed out of arrogance and sin.  Instead, it flows out of the purity of God’s holiness (Ex. 20:3-5).

Revelation 4:11 — Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

 

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Sola Fide

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Sola Fide

Today I’m continuing a short 5-part series on the five solas of the Reformation.  The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  The slogans are:

  • Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  • Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  • Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  • Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  • Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)

Today’s focus is on the third of the solas—sola fide (faith alone).  Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) that was considered to be the “formal cause” of the Reformation while sola fide—justification by faith alone was considered to be the “material cause” and reason for protest.

As Luther was progressing as a monk, his soul was unsettled.  He continued to battle with an unsettled spirit and his father confessor, Johannes von Staupitz,  felt that Luther should embark on a pilgrimage to Rome—the holy city for the Roman Catholic Church.  It would be there that he would visit different monasteries and see the different relics which would allow him to receive certain indulgences and spiritual blessings.  In Rome at this time in 1510 the city of Rome boasted of having the following relics:

  • Rope with which Judas supposedly hanged himself
  • Branch from the bush that once blazed with the visible presence of God
  • Chains of Paul
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral and fountain is in Rome – where the Roman Catholic Church claims that at the spot where Paul was beheaded—when it hit the ground it bounced three times causing three springs to spring up from the ground.

Most committed Roman Catholics would travel to Rome and be overjoyed with the “spiritual” experience of a lifetime.  That was not the case for Martin Luther.  He would see Rome as a “city of harlotry.”  Luther witnessed the false and empty worship of the priests, sexual perversion by priests who were engaging in adultery and homosexual sins with prostitutes.  On top of this was the increasing intensity of indulgences and all of this troubled Luther.

This would serve as a starting point to the eventual Ninety-Five Theses that would be nailed to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg in 1517.  Even then, Luther was unsettled and concerned, but he merely wanted to engage in a public debate—one that would be local in Wittenberg, Germany.  God had other plans as we know—and that document was published and spread all around the surrounding regions and it turned into a national (and eventually and international) debate.

In 1520, Luther would receive an official papal bull calling for him to recant of his positions.  At this point, Luther has already become a Christian and what was starting out as a localized conversation was now about to erupt into an all out war.  What was the driving issue?  It was the “material cause” of the Reformation—justification by faith alone in Christ alone without any mixture of works.  This stand would come to a boiling point at the Diet of Worms where we see the Reformation as we know it begin to take shape as a definitive protest.  At the heart of this protest was the issue of sola fide.

Defining Sola Fide

When Paul writes to the church at Galatia, he addresses the false teaching of the Judaizers that had crept its way into the church.  He called out the false teachers and fenced up the truth of the gospel by delivering a powerful statement of damnation to anyone who would dare to add anything to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Gal. 1:6-10).

In Galatians 3:10-14, Paul made a very important statement that solidifies the position of the apostles and the teaching of Jesus.  He writes:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:10-14).

Years later, the Roman Catholic Church would come along and add a lengthy list of works to the work of Jesus on the cross making them required teaching and practices in order to receive salvation.  This is precisely what the Judaizers were doing in the days of Paul in Galatia.  Paul said, “Let them be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).

Misunderstanding Sola Fide

While Paul was correct to stand firm and to defend the pure gospel, what about works?  Are good works a bad thing?  Should we not emphasize any need for good works in the life of a believer?  Certainly Luther was correct in his passionate protest against the offer of indulgences in exchange for money in his day (along with a long list of other perversions), but what about works?

Often times, we allow the pendulum to swing too far in our protest.  We must be reminded of what James said in the New Testament.  James writes, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).  We must also remember the language of the New Testament regarding perseverance of the faith.  All who persevere in the faith to the end will receive salvation, but those who don’t persevere will be lost in their sin and judged eternally.  What does perseverance involve?  It involves hard work, diligence, pursuit of holiness, and a lifelong attempt to become more conformed to the image of Christ than God.

The diligent effort of a Christian to work and serve God will not take away his sins.  The pursuit of holiness will not save a sinner.  In fact, we must remember to balance these truths.  Unless God causes a person to be born again, that individual will never have a desire to serve, worship, kill sin (mortify the flesh), or become conformed to the image of Christ.  That is a work of God in the new birth that causes a sinner to desire God and to hate sin.

Good works cannot save anyone, but all of God’s children should strive to live a life that honors God in faithful perseverance of the faith.

Sola Fide