Thinking Out Loud - Ms. Green

Commentaries from a female, conservative Christian worldview. Intermittent observations on human behavior and current events. Occasional bursts of personal tirades,confessions, and discoveries. Frequent discussions about my "Narrow-Minded Faith".

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Why it's all Grace and Not Works




When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30

It is finished. The final words of Jesus Christ before He died.

The phrase, “it is finished” is translated from the Greek word “tetelestai”. Tetelestai is a Greek accounting term meaning “paid in full” from the root word “teleo”.

So Jesus, instead of just saying “I am finished”, as in “I have done what I set out to do”, is actually saying, I did what I set out to do – which is pay in full the debt I came to pay.

Christians are saved thru Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He paid for our sins. The penalty for our sins was death, separated from God for all eternity in a place called Hell, to later be thrown into the final resting place of the Lake of Fire.

So through Christ’s death, He gave us life. Spiritual, everlasting life. Life in a place called Heaven.

The Greek tense of the word “tetelestai” also is worth noting. It is not in a past tense, but in a tense that indicates that something has been done, is being done, and will always be done. Our salvation through Jesus Christ isn’t something that was done, but could later change. It is done, it will always be done.

If I pay my mortgage in full, and then go to the company a month later and say, “I’ve changed me mind – I don’t want to pay my last mortgage payment”, do you honestly think the company will say, “Sure. No problem. Here’s your money back”?

If I go to my utility company and say I want my last payment back, do you think they’ll give it to me?

When we put our trust and faith in Jesus Christ for what He did for us, and know that it is He, and not us, Who has the power to save us from Hell, we are recognizing that our sin debt has been paid for. That payment will not be rescinded. It will not be reversed. It is a final and eternal payment.

For this reason, we cannot lose our salvation because of sin. If we could, then we could never be saved – because our sins are as numerous as the leaves of fall, and we have no power to either earn our salvation or reverse our salvation. If we did not make the payment, do you really think God would agree to give the payment back to us?

What an insult to Jesus Christ it is to think our ability to sin is greater than His ability to pay our sin debt.

An interesting nugget of knowledge from Scripture: There are only two incidences in Scripture where the words “it is finished” are found.

In these words of Jesus Christ, there is life for any and all who will come to Him by faith.

The other Scripture where the words “it is finished” are found is in James 1:15. And the root word used is “teleo” - the same as in John 19:30.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15

Sin, in the end, when it is finished, brings death.

Don't finish your life without Christ.

Thank you, God, for grace.

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8 Comments:

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Clean Cut said...

Christ came to save us from our sins, but not save us in our sins. Part of the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit that he asks us to give is in continually repenting. So I was with you all the way until you said "For this reason, we cannot lose our salvation because of sin". That sounds like I would have little motivation to make Christ the Lord of my life if I can live it up and wallow in the mud of sin and still expect to be clean without repentance. His grace if sufficient for any and all who truly repent of their sins. That's the good news. For those who miss the key point about repentance, however, their sins will condemn them in the day of judgement.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Hi CC,

One can only be saved if one repents of their sin and asks God's forgiveness, trusting in the finished/paid in full work of the cross.

I've heard people say "If I believed once saved, always saved, I'd sin all I want."

Wrong. When one is truly saved, and is born again, the Bible says we receive a "new nature". The Bible does not say we are free "to" sin. It says we are free "from" sin. And when we sin after having been saved, there are still consequences. God promises that He will chastise His children (the saved) when we willfully and repeatedly sin.

Everyone sins,CC. Christians and non-Christians. If we could lose our salvation, then none of us could ever hope to get to heaven unless we died at the moment of our salvation - Galatians 3:3says "Are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" In other words, do you really think, after being saved through grace, that you now are able to maintain your salvation through your own works?

When Jesus died on the cross, He died for ALL of my sins. Not just the ones I committed before I got saved. Does that mean I should presume upon His grace and take advantage of my eternal security? Of course not! Paul said "God forbid!" If I were to presume upon God's grace and willfully sin in rebellion, He would take me out so fast it would make my head spin. I've seen Him do it.

Why would I want to sin, knowing the price He paid for me on the cross? If someone saved me from a burning building, would I be tempted to curse them, kick them, spit in their face and ridicule them? Of course not! I would be forever indebted to them for saving my life.

How much greater are we indebted to the One WHo has saved us eternally?

 
At 11:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here’s the problem I have with your worldview.

What you are saying seems to be that an infallible creator made a creation flawed by having the innate tendency to do exactly what he didn’t want. Then to repair these flawed creatures he devised a plan that required them to continually ask for forgiveness for acts which they were designed to do in the first place. And even after being asked, the creator wouldn’t forgive them unless he killed his own offspring first. In addition to all this, he hides from his creation so they can never be certain he even exists and instead requires belief based on faith (which the bible defines as “things HOPED FOR and NOT SEEN”) and even designs the universe in such a way that in order to have faith they have to ignore much of the evidence of their own senses. With the end result that the best even He can hope for is that only of few of the pitiful creatures will be able to escape eternal torture by navigating this minefield he’s designed.


(1) I have a hard time believing in a God that keeps a private torture chamber to punish the majority of his creation for eternity for being the way he made them in the first place.
(2) I have a hard time believing in a creator that can’t admit he’s messed up and makes his son take the hit.
(3) I have a hard time believing in a creator that claims omnipotence and universal love while building the system so that all of his creation would be left to feel alone in the universe and most would suffer great horror and sorrow through no fault of their own.

My intention is not to offend, simply to express how difficult is is for a non-believer to understand when they don't start from a position of belief.

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Wow, Anon, this is a lot to answer all at one time, so I'll try to do it in bits and pieces. I'm usually not on my laptop more than 10-20 minutes at a time - so here goes...

What you are saying seems to be that an infallible creator made a creation flawed by having the innate tendency to do exactly what he didn’t want.

I'm saying that God created men with free will instead of creating robots. We choose our paths, our beliefs, our actions, and our allegiances. He wants us to love Him like He loves us - but if He had not given us free will, it wouldn't be real love, would it? It would have been "forced" or "preprogrammed". I don't know a single human being that likes to be told what to do or who would want their free will taken away from them.

Then to repair these flawed creatures he devised a plan that required them to continually ask for forgiveness for acts which they were designed to do in the first place.

His plan says that if we will admit that we are not perfect, and cannot earn our way to heaven on our own, swallow our pride and ask Him forgiveness for our bad choices (our sins) and will accept His gift He offers to us - which is a guarantee of an eternal happiness in heaven with Him, that He will accept our repentance by forgiving us and sealing us with his Holy Spirit so that we can know we will go to heaven when we die. Not only that, but He promises a relationship with Him while we are still here on earth that will get us through even the toughest times of our lives. As for continually asking Him to forgive us, just as a child who misbehaves, we should go to Him when we do wrong and tell Him we're sorry - not because He's going to disown us and take away our eternal security, but because He's our Father and we want to please Him and restore the relationship that is strained every time we disobey Him.

I'll answer more of your comments later. Meanwhile, I have a book I want to suggest you get. Well, 2 books actually. - one is called Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell. The other is called Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. These two guys are much smarter than I am and make very good cases for believing in the God of the Bible.

Bottom line is, God never intended for us to walk through this world alone or to bear our burdens alone. Yes, we have to come to Him through faith, but I can tell you that once you truly surrender to Him and accept Him, He makes His presence known to you in a very real and very concrete way. I can't really explain it any better than that. He is right here with me all the time and takes my burdens and sorrows and does amazing things in my life. He's real, anon. No doubt. No turning back. I'm betting my eternity on it and I'm not a gambler.

 
At 9:57 AM, Blogger Clean Cut said...

So much depends upon the desires of our hearts. If we truly desire to give up sin and follow Christ, then he will judge us as such. We're still mercifully covered by His grace. But if we truly desire sin more than Christ, and we love sin more than we love Him, than we indeed fall from His grace. The safest way to live is to continually show our faith in Him through our repentance. Obviously, true faith will be reflected by the way we live. That life, not matter how full of good work, cannot save us. Our faith in Christ saves us. I'm just saying that to truly make Him the Lord of our life--AFTER we have accepted Him as our Savior--is to than make a commitment that we turn our wills over to Him. Naturally, we all sin, and no one is perfect. But he wants our heart--all of it.

 
At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Bottom line is, …He's real, anon. No doubt. No turning back. I'm betting my eternity on it and I'm not a gambler.

I know the explanations and I understand the sentiment. It’s not like I’m some teenager searching for guidance. My first “religious” experience was at five years old. Both my parents and the preacher seemed to think that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But I had listened to the sermons and knew what he was saying. And at five years old I had already wondered what the world was all about. (You might say I was precocious.) I’ve spent my life studying not only religion, but science, and philosophy. For a large portion of my life I considered myself a Christian. Eventually I had to admit that, as a system for comfort, or sociality, or even as a simple kind of morality, Christianity was fine. But as an actual explanation of the universe it was sorely lacking. I felt the best thing about Christianity was (duh) Christ’s message. But frankly, modern Christianity seems to be more of a religion about Christ that it is the religion of Christ.

I am as moral, ethical, loving, and serious as I ever was. I simply don’t believe. I was just trying to give you an idea what your belief system looks like from the outside. If you find comfort in it, fine. I would never attempt to talk you out of a belief in an afterlife just because I don’t share it. But remember that your beliefs are simply your subjective worldview. I can attempt to be respectful but can not treat your viewpoint as if it were an objective reality. To do so would be lunacy on my part.

That is the crux of the matter, the “bottom line”, if you will. Wish for whatever you want that you hope for but can’t see. But don’t expect me to treat your wishes as if they were fact, or objective reality. Please don’t force my children to pray to your god in school, or be taught your myths as science. Don’t force your religious icons into non-religious government spaces. I have no problem with a prayer before a football game or some such, but I ask you to think how another religious person feels, how you would feel if it was you listening to alien prayers in public places. Nobody is going to take your religion away from you. Christians outnumber all other US religions combined. All we ask is that you tread a little lightly and respect our feelings. And the undeniable fact that your religion is just a belief, no matter how strongly you hold it, without any objective proof and not shared by all the other people in our society.

I’m just saying.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

I totally understand what you are saying, anon. I don't want to, nor would it be wise to, try to "force" my faith on you. That actually goes against what God has commanded us Christians to do. We are to "proclaim" Him, but He does not force Himself on anyone. He instead draws them. Then we have free will to draw toward or away from Him.

What we as Christians do have a problem with is the fact that this was once a Christian nation, and there are those that are trying to eliminate any mention of Christianity in the public venue. We only want to have the same 1st amendment rights as everyone else.

We also want to see others come to the saving knowledge of Christ, because we know what is in store for the lost. If we didn't care about the lost, we'd worship and pray in private and not try to influence anyone to our way of thinking.

But if you were walking into a trap that was going to explode on you and mortally wound you and I knew it and you didn't, what kind of human being would I be to stand by and say or do nothing because I figured you wouldn't believe me anyway?

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>What we as Christians do have a problem with is the fact that this was once a Christian nation, and there are those that are trying to eliminate any mention of Christianity in the public venue. We only want to have the same 1st amendment rights as everyone else.

The United States is not a Christian nation except in the way it always has been- that most people are Christians. The founding fathers went to great lengths to make this a secular nation. Even to the point that they expressly forbade Congress doing anything to establish it as a Christian nation or any other kind of religious nation. Nobody wants Christianity eliminated from public. And the number of Christian only channels on my TV makes me think your first amendment rights are doing OK. But public schools and government buildings are sacred places for anyone (in spite of the fact that more genuine prayer goes on in them than most churches already;-). Why clutter up the difficult work they already have?

>We also want to see others come to the saving knowledge of Christ, because we know what is in store for the lost. If we didn't care about the lost, we'd worship and pray in private and not try to influence anyone to our way of thinking.

Sure, preach, teach, live the gospel. But don’t let the idea that you “know” something that is truly unknowable lead you to do things you would find abhorrent if they were done to you. How would you react to a law that your children pray to Allah in school? The evolution/ID (science/dogma) question is trickier, because I’m sure you feel you are already in an excluded position. But it’s a debate you’ve been winning since before Galileo. I don’t think it’s too much to want science left as science and you can still believe and teach your children whatever you want.

Of course, we agree to disagree. But perhaps one thing the election results will do is give us a new start. So we can quit fighting and start talking and get about the business of building a more perfect union. Instead of the petty bickering we’ve been maneuvered into while the country has gone off the rails.

 

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