Working out your own salvation

                                                                        ....walking in the steps of Abraham

(Part 1) Getting Over the "Works" Phobia

This study is just an honest attempt to look at the Word and gain a true insight into the will of God. Over and over I have heard the term "A Works Salvation" and personally have never understood why what I considered obedience to God was by others considered a heratic taboo. So in response I have prayerfully gone into the Book and looked at what it has to say about "Works" As a foundation that does not need to be relaid let me state it is with no contraversy that we are saved by the finished works of Calvary through God's magnificent Grace. Yet in looking at scripture which plainly upholds this truth I see also another half of the story that goes untold because of this "Works" taboo. In a zeal to preserve the wonderful truth of Calvary it appears that the baby has been thrown out with the bath water and an unjustifyable condemnation of works has been created. Just look at the following outline with some careful consideration.

The Four Types of "Works" defined in the Bible

 

1) The works of the devil

2) The works of the flesh and of man's hands and imagination

3) The works of the Law (The Mosaic Levitical Law)

For the sake of brevity and not making this longer than it has to be I am 100% certain that there will be no argument in saying that these first three works plainly have no part in the Kingdom of God and should be dealt with accordingly. But then again the next heading plays an vital role in Kingdom that cannot be tossed aside.

4) The works of Faith

It is at this point of understanding that in our attempt to fully remain faithful in avoiding the first three "Dead Works" we also throw out what I will call "Living Works" because scripture is abundant and clear that these things are fully expected of a child of God.

It is plainly apparent that rather than shun, we are commanded to embrace and multiply in good works. At this point I want to make it clear that when we come into a relationship with Jesus he begins the work of salvation in us and in response to His grace we do good works because we want to make our calling and election sure. Because being void of good works carries a heavy penalty, the loss of our salvation.

I believe the blood of Jesus bought and made salvation universally available to all who call on the Name of Jesus but I also believe that all who call on the Name of Jesus do not all attain that salvation, as we can lose salvation by not obeying the commands of God.

 

Part 2 The Saving Covenant of Faith

 

 The promises that God made to Abraham which were sealed by a covenant were not just for Abraham but for the whole world.

Note in particular that God preached the Gospel to Abraham, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." (Rom 1:16) The Gospel is the message of salvation for ALL people. As we go through this study we will also understand that there has always been only one Gospel message given by God.

Now just looking at some of the things God said to Abraham in Genesis we can see the obvious in that through Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed.

So we see that God called Abraham and God made promises to him that through him all the earth will be blessed. The Bible says Abraham believed God was able. Not only did God make these promises but the Bible also tells us that God confirmed these promises with a covenant or a binding contract. What wasn't apparent to Abraham was exactly how God would bring all this to pass, this I will get into towards the end of this study.

 

5 points

The reality is that the covenant of circumcision was not made between God and Abraham but between God and ALL the seed of Abraham. Abraham just happened to be the first one of multitudes to confirm this contract by circumcision. So the one universal Gospel that God preached to Abraham consists of 1) a promise of the seed, which is Christ. 2) that through this seed, Jesus, ALL the nations will be blessed. 3) and a covenant contract confirmed by circumcision. Note a contract in simplest terms is defined as I will_____ if you will_____ In this case God said I will provide Jesus as Savior and if you will believe me and if you want to be included in the salvation provided then be circumcised as a token of your faith.

Walking By Faith!

This is an incredibly profound, rich and enlightening passage of scripture. Every time I read it, I read it several times just to make sure my eyes are not deceiving me. I have been walking with God for 19 years now and every so often God would open up scripture to my understanding that would just thrill me beyond compare. This is one of those passages that never ceases to cause me to rejoice because it reveals the solid foundation of our salvation. I love it!! God help me now to do it justice in explaining what I see.

The Steps of our father Abraham

1) The Grace of God

And he received......while.....yet being uncircumcised

God went to him, and began talking to him, Brother this is grace! God is holy and righteous, nevertheless God chose to aproach this man and begin revealing the most awesome plan of how God wanted to save the whole world!!! All before Abraham had a covenant relationship with God. This is the very exact same thing God does for everyone.

God comes to us when we are all undeserving, and when He comes to us He begins revealing His will. That is God's part and work, that is His grace. What step did Abraham take in response to grace?

2) He received! He Believed! He Obeyed!

Now how do we know he received (took it to heart) the instruction? Because in every step of his walk with God, God spoke and Abraham obeyed. Abraham was accounted as having faith in God because he was able to receive revelation and then act in response to that revelation. This is the very heart of what it means to believe in God. It is clear that in receiving, believing and obeying that Abraham was circumcised in the heart before he was instructed to do it in the flesh. So when God spoke "Walk before me" He was saying you are doing good and going in the right direction, but "Be thou perfect" Don't stop now I have more I want you to do.

 

In understanding Abrahams walk with God we see that over a long period of time, one step at a time, God revealed something to Abraham and at every step of the way Abraham responded obediently.

 The whole lesson here is that the record begins when Abram was 75 and continues untill his death at 175, giving us an account of a 100 year walk with God. Every step of the way God gave revelations of His will, and Abraham responded to those revelations with obedient service. So then this becomes the model of what it means to be circumcised in heart, walking and seeking perfection.

 

My friend while most will say they are "saved" at the point in time when they accept Jesus and begin their walk, Scripture more clearly makes it understood that during our walk God will speak to us, and perfection will come to those who obediently serve. And to those who do not obey the voice of God?

Saved By Faith in Jesus

 Abraham believed in Jesus!

In God's revelations to him, he was told that "In thy seed" (Jesus) "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"

The Covenant Revealed

A covenant is a binding contract. If we have a covenant with God, God is bound to uphold His end of the bargain as long as we uphold ours.

God told Abraham in order.....that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.... he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith

Now while it is understood that it is not required to have anything physical done to us (because those who were circumcised in the flesh were not faithful) God today reveals to us a spiritual circumcision of the heart which means we believe and have faith in God. Look at the next passage: Note that unbelief causes blindness, and faith causes liberty.

As God revealed to Abraham His covenant of salvation for the whole world, Abraham received and acted, expressing his faith in God through his actions. Today God's Gospel instructs circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh. The "Sign" of circumcision in the Old Testament was physical, but today the Bible tells us of another "Sign" of circumcision that is our "Seal of the righteousness of faith"

Just as Abraham received Jesus and believed and showed his faith by signing the contract with circumcision, We express our faith in Jesus and sign our contract by water baptism. (a better deal I think!)

The requirements of the contract

Well look at this! Paul received a revelation! Did he act on that revelation? You know He did! What was involved in the revelation? Turning back to God in repentence and doing the works that prove the repentence was genuine. Which would be eliminating the works of the devil, the works of the flesh, and a false reliance on self righteosness in our personal lives, AND then doing the things that are right in the sight of God.

 

How do we agree to and sign the contract?

 The reward of signing the contract

For IF we have been planted (baptized, signed the contract) THEN we shall go up in the first resurrection. (Be Saved)

Our being baptized is our expression of faith that says we believed God is going to destroy death and raise us up in the resurrection!! So as Jesus gave us the example of dying and being buried, saying "I will be raised the third day" So we repent, die to dead works, are buried in baptism, putting off the old man, and then faith is made perfect as we put on Christ walking in the newness of life, with the contract promise of our ultimate resurrection.

The Name on the dotted line

Notice that the Apostles quote this verse:

The church is known as the Body of Christ, as we have seen it is baptizm that puts us into Christ. We also know that the Head of the church is Jesus. Now let me ask you, Does someones body have a different name than their head? Even as the Bride of Christ, Doesn't the Bride take the name of the husband? So who is the Head, and who is the Husband? Jesus!!! The evidence of the irrefutable proof is found that in actual practice the Apostles all baptized in Jesus Name.

There is only one Name on the contract! Jesus Name! Because what baptism represents is we are dying to self so that Christ will live. We are denying and crucifying the flesh and then taking on His identity and Name that God may be all in all. We are being made one with God!!! And this is what we are agreeing to in our contract with God.

 Part 3 The Spiritual children of Abraham

Even though we know Abraham believed the promises of him becoming the father of many nations. We also know that he strugled with how God would bring this to pass, at one point he tried to help God along. Both Abraham and Sarah being in their ninties didn't help them much either I'm sure. Here is an example of God speaking and Abraham hearing and having faith, but the fullness of everything that God had in mind was fuzzy. We having the benefit of hindsight are able to look back and realizing that not only was God speaking of the natural nation Israel, but included in God's plans was the Gentile church being the spiritual children of promise. Only in the New Testament teachings is all the fuzziness eliminated and full revelation of God's will is made known.

This next section is going to tie the whole package together and show exactly how God's promise to Abraham is fulfilled in the New Testament gospel message. In the early stages of Abraham's walk we gather that he believed that the children God promised would be Abraham's own natural children. It was at this point that he attempted to help God by taking on Hagar and producing Ishmael. It was after this fact that God pointedly clarified His will by stating: "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him."

Note*

1) They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:

2) but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

3) The promise is: "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Gal 3:16) So the promise to Abraham is that in Jesus Christ he would become the spiritual father of many nations.

I'm sure you are wondering why I am being so redundant in repeating the same things over and over, but let me assure you that with each stroke of the brush the picture is painted, and I want a picture that is perfectly clear. Please bear with me.

Becoming Christ's

So then with the advent of Jesus finally come we find Him teaching the priciples of being "Born again" and as we examine these principles we see how God's promise is able to be accomplished.

We have already been made to know the vital role of water baptism as the first part of this Born Again experience, so then let's focus on the spiritual rebirth.

Note in the next verse that Jesus will pray for God to send the Comforter which is identified as the Holy Ghost.

Note here that now the Holy Ghost is called the promise

Note that after praying that God would send the Holy Ghost, finally on the day of Pentecost the outpouring of the Holy Ghost was indeed made available.

Finally Paul explains to us that those who have been born of the Spirit are the children of promise.

So we see that Abraham becomes the Father of the faithful not by natural conception, but by the supernatural conception of being born again of the Spirit of God, adopting us into the family of God all being given the family name of Jesus through baptism. " For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" So now we see the "How" employed by God in blessing all those who have faith in God, making Abraham the father of many nations.

How are those Born of the Spirit Identified?

Not only are we given a new family name, but a new family language also! Paul describes it as the tounges of angels. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels...." (1 Cor 13:1) Everywhere in Acts where it says they were filled with the Holy Ghost it also says they spoke in tounges. Which is a fulfillment of this scripture type:

This is incredibly beautiful! When we are filled with the Holy Ghost we become the temple of the living God, and out of His temple God speaks!

Walking in the light of revelation

Plainly scripture teaches that we are to walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham. Plainly Abrahams steps were not just lip service but faithful obedience and action. His life reveals the grace of God in choosing, calling and speaking to him. But it also goes on in teaching that as God revealed step by step, Abraham responded with obedience step by step. This then becomes the perfect model of what it means to have true faith in God. So the truest understanding of his life reveals that we are saved by faith in action and nothing less. To this agrees the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles which states:

I think you can see the operative phrase is God's insistence that we continue, in the word, in obedience, in love, in grace, in faith, and goodness. THEN shall we be His diciples indeed. It is very important here to understand what a disciple is, the Strong's dictionary gives us this definition:

Disciple: Greek word mathetes, math-ay-tes'; a learner, i.e. pupil:--disciple.

Note very importantly is that to be a learner is in the present tense. We are to be always presently learning. We are not being a disciple if we base our relationship with God solely on what we learned in the past, but the indication is that being a disciple is to be in an ever present state of learning. Which makes it absolutely necessary for us to respond to whatever God is teaching us TODAY. Can you see how God moved Abraham along in their relationship? If Abraham would have stopped being willing to continue with God what do you suppose his fate would have been?

Friend of mine I have presented an exhaustive argument for the absolute need for the "Saving works of Faith" My intent is that God shower you with blessings and revelations. My desire is for you to walk, continuing in the faith and steps of Abraham. Do not be afraid of being zealous for good works because we are saved by "Works of Faith"

What are works of Faith?

Works of faith are whatever actions we do that make us like Jesus Christ! We are to love, because He is love. We are to be kind, gentle, and generous because He is these things. We are to be holy in all manner of life, because He who called you is Holy. We get baptized because He showed us his example of obedience. We forgive because He forgave us. On and on I could go. We act according to the knowledge and revelation of who and what He is. Why? Because through baptism, by contract we have agreed to "Put on Christ" We take on His Name and identity. Why? Because individuals are not saved by their own merit. Let me explain.

No man has ever, can ever, or will ever by his own merit ascend into heaven. Our salvation is based entirely on our being found "IN HIM" He is the ark of our salvation that will carry us into the heavenlies.

Of every Man ever born or ever will be, there has only been ONE who was sinnless and merrited ascention into heaven of course this is Jesus Christ. Salvation comes to us all because we become members of His body through baptism.

This is the truest understanding of the grace of God, not that He allows us into heaven but that He allows us into Christ who brings us all into heaven with Him as one. Putting on Jesus saves us!

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