84. “Faith works”

— from The Bible Answers by Harold Smith

QUESTION : If salvation is by grace alone and not by works, then couldn’t Christians live any old way they wish?

ANSWER: Salvation is clearly defined in Ephesians 2:8-9 as being by grace (on God’s part) through faith ALONE (on our part) and “not of works lest any man should boast.” The following verse states, “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Ephesians 2:10). Grace alone saves, but grace is never alone. Salvation is not by works BUT IT WORKS.

We have too many professing Christians who have a salvation that DOES NOT WORK. Paul could say, “I am what I am BY THE GRACE OF GOD” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Salvation is like a person that has a plumbing problem. They know nothing about plumbing. They are absolutely incapable of fixing it, but they know a plumber that they believe can fix it. Their confidence in him is so high that through their faith in him they call him to fix it. They do no more. They leave it all to him. If when he is finished the plumbing works then their faith in him produced it, for had they not called him in it would still be the same.

A person has a sin problem. Their life is all messed up. They cannot straighten it out. They are absolutely helpless (Romans 5:6). So they call in a Saviour. They trust in Him to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. He comes in and the life begins to work right. He is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). So the plumber comes in and the plumbing works. The Saviour comes in and the life works.

If you have a salvation that does not work it is NOT THE SALVATION THE SAVIOUR PROVIDED. It is a reflection on the ability of the Saviour to profess salvation and live habitually in known sin. Good works have nothing to do with saving; but it is the evidence that we are saved. Titus 3:8: “…that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12 NASB).

72. How’s my heart? (Part I)

A properly functioning heart is essential to the life of our body. In a spiritual way, the state of our heart is also paramount in our lives for God. I would like to consider the role and effect our heart has in various periods of our lives.

Part I: Life’s beginning: the heart’s role in Rebirth

The Heart and Repentance

Spiritual life begins with the heart. God’s Word must touch my heart before I become serious about my need for salvation. It must reach into my inner being and make me aware of my sinful condition before God and need for forgiveness. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and preached a message that “pierced to the heart” of the listeners, as they understood that their sins had nailed the Son of God to the tree, and they responded in deep distress, “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37 NASB). A repentant heart is first necessary before rebirth can take place.

The Heart and Salvation

The Philippian jailer asked the same question, “What must I do to be saved?” in Acts 16. The response Paul and Silas gave to him was “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Paul writes in Romans 10:10 that it is “with the heart one believes and is justified…” (ESV). Faith is believing God, but it is not a simple acceptance of a few facts in the Bible.  Faith must be from the heart. It must come from the being of the person, a connection made with the living God, resulting in a life that is transformed. It is a faith that acknowledges I am a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me, and I accept Him as my Lord and Savior. A person who believes God to salvation is never the same again. A believing heart is essential for salvation.

The Heart and Transformation

When a person is saved, they are a different person. God places His Holy Spirit within them, and they have a new desire to please God. Hebrews 10:16-17 says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” A changed heart is the result of salvation.

(to be continued)

69. Easter

What is Easter, and why do many celebrate it?

The word Easter itself apparently comes from the name of a month during our April which was named after an Anglo-Saxon goddess. However, pagan practices were replaced by the time of the 8th century with Christian beliefs linked to the resurrection of Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week following the Passover. The word Easter does occur once in the King James version of the Bible, but it should have been translated Passover there instead.

So is it wrong for Christians to call it Easter?

I don’t think so. The word is no longer associated with a goddess, and people don’t think you are praising Ēostre or Austrō if you have an Easter egg hunt, though eggs and bunnies may have been associated with Germanic Austrō customs. Paul takes up this question in 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10, in relation to eating food that was offered to idols. Many Christians understood that idols were not gods, and could eat food that had been offered to idols in good conscience. But if in doing so they might stumble another Christian or non-Christian, causing them to think they were honoring a heathen god, then it would be wrong to eat the food. This is the way I understand questions of practices such as coloring Easter eggs or decorating a Christmas tree. They have nothing to do with Christianity (unless you really stretch it), but they are not viewed as pagan practices by most people today in the United States. However, I do appreciate those who choose not to follow practices that could detract from the true significance of the day being remembered. It is good to ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” because all that we do should be to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

So what is the true significance of the first day of the week following the Passover?

Even though the actual term Easter is not a biblical term, the day remembered as Easter is certainly a very important day in the Bible. It is the day of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb…. And he [an angel] said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:2, 6 ESV)

Death could not detain the body of the Author of Life (Acts 3:15). By His own power He rose out from the tomb, and appeared, alive, to over five hundred people at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). His disciples didn’t believe it until they actually saw Him. But the truth of the resurrection changed fearful, feeble followers into fearless, powerful witnesses and martyrs for Christ.

He is risen! 

Why would this be so important to believers in Christ?

Paul tells us about the significance of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. If Christ had not been raised, we would yet be lost in our sins. There would be no salvation to proclaim, no victory over death. Christ’s resurrection proves that He is conqueror over the power of death, and therefore He is able to save us out of death as well.

Again, His resurrection proves that God the Father is satisfied with the price His Son paid for our redemption, because the Father has placed Him at His right hand in glory, the place of greatest honor (Rom. 8:34). What the Father gave Him to do, He finished to perfection. We have a perfect Savior who accomplished a perfect work to God’s complete satisfaction, and all who place their faith in Him find peace with God.


Some information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter, retrieved March 31, 2012

68. “Good” Friday?

So what is “Good Friday,” and why do people call it “good”?

According to the Oxford dictionary, the word “good” is used to indicate “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” So this day marks an event that is special to Christians. There may be other reasons for the term, but its origin is uncertain.

And what makes it special?

It is the day set aside to remember when the Lord Jesus was crucified.

And why would this day be special? Wasn’t it horrible?

Certainly it was horrible– the Son of God, hanging upon a cross, dying an agonizing death at the hands of His own creation! There is nothing wonderful about that. What is special is not simply a day, nor that a man was crucified, but that through the death of this Savior a means of Redemption was brought to mankind (that’s you and me).

Redemption? What is that?

To answer this question we should really first consider another special day–a day celebrated by the Jewish people. In fact, they were observing this day at the very time the Lord Jesus was being crucified. It is called the Passover. The Passover was a special day to the Jews, because it marked the day when they were delivered from bondage and slavery in Egypt long ago. At that time, God instructed them to kill a lamb and put the blood of that lamb around the door posts of their houses. The lamb died in the place of the firstborn within that house, and shielded him from the judgment God brought because of sin. God passed-over and guarded the houses where there was blood, and didn’t bring judgment upon the inhabitants. In short, the lamb’s blood–its life–was the price that had to be paid because of sin. This is the idea of Redemption: it involves a purchase.

But there is more. God not only saved His people from death, but He also delivered them from the slavery they were experiencing in Egypt. He brought them out of Egypt and into a new land of great blessing and abundance. So Redemption (in this aspect) involves a purchase out of slavery, and a setting free.

Yet there is more. God not only saved them from death, brought them out of Egypt, and brought them into a new land, but He also made them into a nation: Israel. He made them His own people. Redemption made it possible for God to call them His own special people. (See Exodus 6:3-8, 19:4-5)

So Redemption in the Bible (in this aspect) involves a price (or ransom) that is paid to bring deliverance from bondage, resulting in blessing.

So how does the Redemption of Israel relate to Good Friday?

Well, just as Israel needed to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt, mankind needs to be delivered from the bondage of sin. The only way God could righteously deliver us from the penalty that our sins deserved (eternal separation from God), was for another to die in our place. Another person had to purchase our freedom. That person is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who could do it–He is perfect. He is divine. But He had to become a man to do it. And He had to go to a place called Calvary to fulfill it. He was God’s Lamb for our Redemption, and when He hung on that cross, He was enduring the anger that a holy God poured out on Him as our substitute– taking the place of the sinner. “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7 ESV). When we accept what God says, that this all was “for me–for my sin!” receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, we become His own–purchased and redeemed by His blood. No longer are we enslaved to sin, but God puts a new heart within, and His Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. He gives us a new song, a new life, a new destiny. The sinful world, typified by Egypt, is now behind us, and heaven’s joys are before us. We are God’s special people, and Christ’s purchased bride. Israel was under a covenant of works, but Christians are freed from the bondage of the law and brought into fellowship with God by grace. How much transpires in that moment of faith!

So now do you understand why that day is special to Christians? But more importantly, is the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus, special to you?

65. Irony of Insults

from Mark 15:29-32 NASB

Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,  save Yourself, and come down from the cross!

What these cruel men didn’t realize was that they were destroying the temple and He would indeed raise it up in three days!

In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.”

Oh how the Lord Jesus would have loved to save them. And He was dying in order to be able to save others. Myriads of angels were at His command, but nothing could deter Him from His purpose to provide means of salvation for a world (yes, you and me) at enmity with God.

“Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!”

If He would have come down from the cross, that would have been reason to not believe in Him. It would have been contrary to the Scriptures that most accurately and graphically foretold His sufferings and death. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

He was numbered with the transgressors. His friends forsook Him. His enemies insulted Him. Even those who were enduring physical sufferings like His would not sympathize with Him. Finally, even His God forsook Him (but in no way insulted Him).

Behold, what manner of Love, that He would stoop down so low to bring His enemies into the fold of God’s family — and so near to His heart. Respond to His love today.


60. Rescued!

Tom Satre told the Sitka Gazette that he was out with a charter group on his 62-foot fishing vessel when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat.

“Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at us. We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed.

“I opened up my back gate and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals onto the boat. In all my years fishing, I’ve never seen anything quite like it!

“Once on-board, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering. We headed for Taku Harbour. Once we reached the dock, the first buck that we had been pulled from the water hopped onto the dock, looked back as if to say ‘thank you’ and disappeared into the forest.

“After a bit of prodding and assistance, two more followed, but the smallest deer needed a little more help (that’s him in the wheelbarrow).

“My daughter, Anna, and son, Tim, helped the last buck to its feet. We didn’t know how long they had been in the icy waters or if there had been others who did not survive. My daughter later told me that the experience was something that she would never forget, and I suspect the deer felt the same way as well!”

source: Northern Broadcasting, Second Chance Ranch


When I read this true story, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what it means to be rescued spiritually. Naturally, we are like those young bucks– helpless in the cold waters of death– headed for a lost eternity. We really don’t want to admit we’re unable to reach the other shore, but when we finally realize that the time is short, we’re not ready, and we can’t get there on our own, there is a safe haven available for us to swim toward. It’s not in our nature to get into that boat and let the Lord Jesus take us in, but when we’re desparate, we finally give in and accept His kind, nail-pierced hands. Then the Lord sets us free, giving us a new life, a new location and destination, and a new love for the things of God. It is an experience we will never forget– a life-changing one!

Have you experienced it?

You can, because He can! He’s able to save because He went into the waters of death and judgment on the cross to take our death sentence for us. His blood paid the debt in full. Receive Him, and what He has done for you, and then you will be able to say “THANK YOU” too!