THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
Saved by GraceBy Mark King
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We are saved by grace. But do we understand grace correctly?
One of the things that is difficult when dealing with various cults of Christianity, is that they often use the same terms as evangelical Christians, but they mean something different.
A couple of months ago, I was home one morning and the doorbell rang. I went to the door and saw two middle-aged ladies. I stepped outside and spoke with them. They told me that they were there to spread the Good News. In our conversation, they told me that the blood of Jesus washes away our sin and that it is vital to have a relationship with Christ. They also agreed with me that there was no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Of course, these things are all true. However, these ladies were member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. As we talked, it became clear that what they meant by these terms was very different than what I mean when I share the gospel. My fear is that it is not only in the cults that these terms are misunderstood, but also in our churches.
Anyway, as soon as I looked out the door, I knew that these ladies were Jehovah's Witnesses. Does anybody else knock on doors these days? I knew they were not selling cable and Internet service, pest control, or lawn maintenance packages. By the literature they were holding, I knew who they were before they said anything.
They said they were in the neighborhood spreading the good news and they wanted to read a passage of Scripture to me. (I will use "they" throughout although obviously they were not speaking in unison. One lady was the primary spokesperson and the other observed and contributed from time to time. I got the impression she was the more experienced one and she was there to help the other one if she got in a jam.) I told them that would be okay, so one of them read Revelation 21:1-4:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.Then they asked me, "Are you ready for the new heavens and new earth?"
I said, "I am, but let me ask you, are you ready?"
They said that they were and I asked, "Are you sure?"
Their answer revealed much. "We hope to be — that's why we are out here knocking on doors."
I responded, "You hope? I know that I am ready because I am in Christ." Then I quoted Romans 8:1-4:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.I emphasized that in Christ I have assurance of salvation because there is no condemnation for those who are in Him.
They readily agreed. "Yes, the blood of Jesus washes away our sin. There is no condemnation if you have a relationship with Christ."
So far, there has not been a whole lot for us to disagree on. We both agree that the blood of Christ washes away our sin and that if we are in Christ, there is no condemnation. But I couldn't leave it there. I had to push a little further, and this is where the difference showed up.
Since we were all being agreeable, I agreed that it was most important to have a relationship with Christ, but then I asked them how one could have such a relationship. Their answer shows the importance of a proper understanding of grace.
"How do you have a relationship with Christ?"
"By doing the things He commanded."
Therein lies the difference, and it is the difference between night and day, or perhaps more accurately, life and death.
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