Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

What Should a New Christian Look Like?

Act 15:11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

 

The Problem

No matter where you go and whom you talk to, there is always an emphasis on something besides the grace of God when it comes to being a Christian.  We know that most of the teaching in church meetings has to do with what a Christian should do.  Normally the verse in Matthew 7:20  is quoted which says, "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."  We are told that we are not able to determine who is saved because only God knows the heart.  However, we can be fruit inspectors, which means that we can know who is saved by their fruits.  Of course that is a type of double-speak.  The first problem with that is that all of us have bad fruit in our lives (the result of our Adamic nature) and all Christians have good fruit in their lives (the result of the new nature received when we are born again).  The second problem with that interpretation is that the verse has to do with knowing false prophets, not with knowing who is saved and who is not. 

 

Now we know that a person who repents, brings forth fruits meet for or in keeping with repentance which is the change in mind necessary to have faith in Christ.  How much fruit isn’t explained.  We know that a person who has faith has been created unto good works according to Ephesians 2.   Whether there are still some bad works is not stated in Ephesians 2 but practically speaking we know that there are. The end result of all of this is to convince Christians that they have to "measure up" in some way to the "good works" standards of those that they respect in order to "feel" accepted and saved.  Often we create doubts in the lives of those truly saved by our emphasis on "doing" since they are never sure if as a new believer their "doing" measures up. 

 

The Early Church

When we are first saved, we don’t know everything but we do know that Christ died for us and we can say "I see, I see."  That is, "I understand, I understand."  But it doesn’t take long before there are those who will say that if you are saved, "then here is what you should do."  In the early church, there was a belief on the part of Jews that Christianity was a sect of Judaism and that new Christians should act like Jews.  It was not.  It was a new thing.  There were now Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God (See 1 Corinthians 10:32).  Christians did not have to be practicing Jews nor should they be practicing Pagans which most Gentiles were in that day.

 

In our passage, the question of whether Christianity was a sect of Judaism was being addressed.  Peter was clear that Christianity did not require keeping the ceremonial law of the Jewish religion.  But then what was James doing when he laid out these four things that Christians could not do?  Was he not saying that salvation was "mostly" grace but there were some works involved in order to be saved?  I do not believe that is what he was saying.  I think Peter dealt with the Jewish problem and James dealt with the Pagan problem which was a major part of the culture in that day.  These four things were all associated with Pagan practices.  Peter said that Christianity was not a sect of Judaism and James said that grace did not give the license to sin that Paganism allowed in that day.

 

Today

Salvation is defined as a new birth.  It is described as being raised from the dead in John 5:24 and in Romans 6:5.  It is obtained through repentance in 2 Peter 3:9.  It is obtained by faith in John 3, Romans 3, and Ephesians 2 and throughout the book of Acts. But nothing besides faith in Christ is necessary to be saved.  And when we as Christians start adding conditions, we are sadly preaching another Gospel.  However, we need to distinguish between salvation, fellowship and service.  Of course, there are conditions to be met if we are going to be in fellowship one with another and if we are going to work together.  Separation from Judaism which includes seventh day worshippers and separation from the immorality of Paganism are two of those conditions. 

 

I thank God every day that it is by grace that I am saved through faith.  I thank God that when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved.  I am thankful that when I depend on Christ and not on works or on myself, I have peace that cannot be disturbed or taken away from me.  I hope everyone reading this has that peace as well 

 

Bruce Collins

 

Meditation for the week of July 9, 2017

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