I believe the second verse I memorized was for the Sunday school program when I was eight years old and in department 8. I am pretty sure my Sunday school teacher was a gentleman named Sonny Neal. 39 years have passed and he is still working for the Lord. He is a kind soul which each time I see him on Sunday morning brings a smile to my face and cheer to my heart. Like the first verse I memorized, this one I would not fully understand till much later in life. And the time that passed I took a very long and often frustrating path. For the sake of brevity I will summarize my experience to one point.
If you went into a Starbucks and order a tall coffee, paid for it and then took the hot beverage to your car and pulled away heading toward your next destination. If then – you raised the hot beverage to your mouth to sip your coffee and then realized it was simply hot water, what would you do? If you had enough time/the availability to turn around and go back to Starbucks to express your unsatisfaction and receive the beverage you paid for and ordered – you would. Let’s say that is what happens and after going back through the line you present what you received and explain what you ordered. The person remembers you and replies “oh you should have ordered a “red”; here I will make that for you.” And then turns away to make your order. You – standing perplexed – look around and see clearly on the menu board what you would expect. Coffee, tall, grande, venti and so on. You look at the signage and it all says what it usually does. The barista comes back with your coffee and you say, “Sorry but I am confused. When did ordering change? Why doesn’t the menu reflect the change?” The barista then goes on about the tradition and culture of the company etc.
Here is the point: There are those who are supposedly Christian leaders that lead people astray by their dishonest use of the vocabulary in the Bible. It even gets worse, because some so-called scholars and leaders have established boards with publishers to actually change the words from the Bible and even – preposterous as it may sound – remove words and whole verses (This phase of the problem will be for a future post). My writing today is about the dishonesty of vocabulary use and application. If you were to find out that your pastor/priest/clergy/elder/etc. meant one thing when they said another thing, how would you feel/react? Say for example when they used the word “love” they actually meant “hate”. If you asked questions in private or in class as to clarification they would talk about emotions and how they are God given and God uses this language to communicate to us in the Bible so we can understand. Where does that answer get you? Nowhere so you say “explain”. Then they take you through a Greek language primer explaining the Greek word and tenses and the use in that day and the expression is communicated differently today and in the end we have to translate to English and that brings us back to God communicating with us in our language so we can understand. —- This scenario is not preposterous, it happens every single day.
Ephesians 2:8&9 KJV: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Today supposed Christian leaders teach and preach that salvation must be earned. You see, grace is a work or sacrament one must repeatedly take part of and experience as a crucial element in the salvation plan. Please note grace cannot be a work – it is inconsistent with the actual vocabulary and definition of the word “grace”. In fact Paul plainly writes NOT OF WORKS in his explanation. Unique mention? No.
“And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” – Romans 11:6 KJV
“Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” – 2 Timothy 1:9 KJV
So not only is it ridiculous that someone would teach that grace is a work but also tragic. See unlike the customer from Starbucks who was able to go back and resolve the matter satisfactorily though at a cost of their time and patience the person who dies and stands before God trusting their works to enter into Heaven for eternity will be ushered to the lake of fire. All of the screaming and hollering that “it isn’t fair” and “I’m sorry…” will fall on deaf ears. He will simply point to the Scriptures and say something like “you thought you could earn your way into My Heaven when I sent My Son to pay for your sins?” “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:23 Matthew 25:41 KJV – “… Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”
Grace is via God’s goodness toward human demerit. He provides mercy out of His goodness toward human guilt. The grace and mercy of God to all human beings was declared, revealed and realized via the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:8&9: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
John 3:15-18 KJV – “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6 KJV
So what and whom are you trusting? Your answer has eternal implications.