Monday, June 3, 2013

Obedience, A Necessary Requirement For Salvation?

Was Noah's salvation from the flood conditional on him building the ark?

That one question ought to put to rest any assertion that obedience is not a necessary condition towards the outcome of one's salvation.

The writer of Hebrews claimed that...

Heb 5:9  And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Yet despite this plain statement being made in scripture many people hold to the view that "God is the author of the obedience of those whom are saved."

I think much of the confusion surrounding this issue is rooted in the definitions of words whereby the perception of particular concepts is very easily twisted.

For example the term "salvation" implies being "saved." Thus in light of the very meaning of the word we ought to consider what is a Christian actually saved from.

Jesus made the following statement...

Joh 8:34  Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Joh 8:35  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
Joh 8:36  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Servant literally means slave (1). Thus when Jesus stated that "if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" it is clearly in the context of being set free from being a slave to sin. Therefore I would consider it accurate to state that a Christian is saved from being sins servant or slave. After all Jesus did preach deliverance to the captives (Luk 4:18).

Another text worth referencing is found in Matthew where it is written...

Mat 1:21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

He shall save His people from their sins. Clearly salvation is being saved FROM sin.

Paul makes an interesting statement in Romans chapter 6...

Rom 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Clearly Paul is teaching that those who "obey sin" are the "slaves of sin" a teaching which clearly agree with the statement Jesus made in Joh 8:34 regarding those who commit sin being the servants of sin. Yet Paul goes even further in his explanation by contrasting "obeying sin unto death" with "obedience unto righteousness." Thus it is very apparent that there are two different paths which one can take.

Which path is that a genuine Christian has taken? Well Paul gives the answer in the very next verse...

Rom 6:17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Rom 6:18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

"Obedience from the heart" to the "form of doctrine delivered" is what set these people free from the service of sin.

In the 2nd Epistle of John we find this statement...

2Jn 1:9  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

Clearly a Christian must abide in the doctrine of Christ wherefore they do not transgress. The doctrine of Christ being the doctrine according to godliness (1Tim 6:3).

So is obedience a condition of salvation? Clearly it is according to the plain words of Scripture. If an individual  is "not obedient from the heart" to the "doctrine once delivered" and thus continues to "obey sin" and thus remains a "slave of sin" then what is it exactly that such an individual has actually been saved from? Surely it would be foolish to claim that they have been "saved from sin."

I do understand that many people cling to the doctrine of the Penal Substitution of the atonement whereby they view their justification as being established upon a legal transaction which they perceive took place at the cross (ie. their sin was transferred to Jesus who was then punished in their place and the righteousness of Jesus has been credited to them) whereby the wrath of God no longer abounds upon them for ongoing sin because the "penalty due was paid in full" so to speak. Yet this doctrine completely ignores what Jesus and Paul actually teach about "being set free from sin" for the freedom alluded to is only a "freedom from condemnation" and not a "freedom from the service of sin." Thus these people hold to a view that salvation is purely of an abstract or forensic nature, in other words they are saved positionally whilst they remain unsaved manifestly.

Moving on, Paul continued and wrote the following in Romans chapter 6...

Rom 6:18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Rom 6:19  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Rom 6:20  For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Rom 6:21  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
Rom 6:22  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In verse 19 Paul speaks of a "yielding of the members" to either "uncleanliness and iniquity" or to "righteousness unto holiness." He then states that by "being made free from sin" one "becomes a servant of God" whereby the fruit produced will be holiness which leads to everlasting life.

Thus in verse 23 Paul is illustrating that the wages of SERVING SIN is death but the gift of God is eternal life through the SERVICE OF JESUS CHRIST.

Is it any wonder Jesus would say...

Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

It is the servants of sin who work iniquity (Rom 6:19-20) whilst it is the servants of Christ who work holiness (Rom 6:22). Hence a faith working by love (Gal 5:6) fulfills the righteousness of the law (Gal 5:14) whereby one walks in the Spirit (Gal 5:16, Rom 8:1-4) producing the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:9). It is in the production of fruit that the genuine Christian is made manifest to the world (1Joh 3:10, Joh 15:5).

Paul also wrote the following...

Rom 2:3  And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Rom 2:5  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Rom 2:6  Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Rom 2:7  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Rom 2:8  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Indignation and wrath upon those who obey unrighteousness (those whom serve sin) and eternal life to those who patiently continue in doing good (those whom obey Jesus Christ).

So is obedience a necessary requirement of salvation?

Well you tell me.

(1) Servant - G1401 - doulos
From G1210; a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): - bond (-man), servant.

Note:- I believe that Jesus Christ saves us FROM sin, not IN sin. Thus it is through the blood of Christ that our consciences are cleansed of the defilement wrought by our rebellion to God and by partaking in His suffering we are also set free from the bondage of sin. Thus a Christian is made pure in Christ and can therefore serve God in an acceptable manner.

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