Of necessity, what we impart as Christian teachers, must surely come over as the apostle Paul says: “…we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory…” (1Cor. 2:7), the type of wisdom that “… no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard, nor has the heart-of-man imagined, and the type-of-wisdom that God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor. 2:9, clarified).
Besides the very real necessity of true faith in God; what this means, that: “if you let the devil take your faith, he’s got your soul too” is very shaky ground for anyone’s salvation, to my way of thinking about our eternal salvation. That is to say: Is the devil in control, or is God? And, where does your faith fit in?
This – “if you let the devil take your faith, he’s got your soul too” – dare I say, is a rather presumptuous way of preaching and teaching about personal faith, for the preaching and teaching about people’s own personal convictions of how they see God, and how they co-opt with Holy Spirit, is a very personal thing!
And, is this co-opting with God, dependent on the devil’s influence? I hope not, for even our Lord said: “Get behind me satan” to the apostle Peter, “for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men” ~Matt. 16:23. Peter was commissioned by Christ, to co-opt with Him, but he’d deviated at this stage.
Rest your hope and faith in God, not in man; and not in d-evil.
Within such a tender and eternally significant role of teaching, do we make our salvation dependent on our ability to uphold our faith? For, the scriptures teach that the role of purifying and making our faith effective, is the role and purpose of the Word of God and of the Holy Spirit’s counsel, by the eternal Word and Holy Spirit upholding our most personal faith (1Cor. 2:14-15 cp. John 17:17), and making it effective for the occasion of its effectiveness – there’s a big difference!
How many times in the gospels, did our Lord denounce people for their lack of faith, or commend them for their genuine faith? God works through our faith in Him, not our faith in circumstances.
Will we be caught, trusting in our own strength, or in God’s?
There seems to be a gross error in Christians’ beliefs, that we must “pit our faith against the devil”, whereas spiritual discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit, more along the lines: Do you trust God? Good. Then: Does God trust you? with such discernment.
Regarding salvation and our faith, let’s consider ~Eph. 2:1-10, and then compare it with some key scriptures from the book of Romans; in order to “lever the weevils out of our dough mix”. “Give us this day, our daily bread”, isn’t it, taught by the Lord, for our provision? If yes, then our most important need, is to stand on redemption ground and stand our ground in the Bread of Life, in Christ’s power, not our own.
Yes: “…receiving the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls” ~1 Pet. 1:9, is a true statement about our eternal salvation, but it’s predicated upon the words that precede it, as written by the apostle Peter, to these charges of his own personal care: “who by the power of God, are guarded through (your) faith, in-view-of a salvation that’s ready to be revealed at every latest, fitting moment” ~v5, true to the original language.
If we’ve got a salvation that’s activated and empowered by God, then: let’s have it! But, if it’s lived out by fear of d-evil, or by my own futile mind’s ability to apprehend the things of my eternal, infinite, glorious and magnificent God, then I don’t want it; for these wouldn’t be God-things, but my things. I want God’s things. How about you?
Yes: in relation to this world’s goods, honors and services, we’re taught by the scriptures that: “what should it profit a man, to gain the whole world but then, to lose his soul” ~Matt. 16:26, and this was said by Christ to His disciples, where He was warning them as to the cost it would take, to follow Him.
It’s “painfully obvious” that we’ve each got short lives of 60, 70, 80 or 90 years, so Christ’s question is this same eternal question I’m posing here: Where is your faith? Is it, in your mind’s ability? Is it In your faith’s ability? Or is it in your God’s ability?
Showing what ~Eph. 2:1-10 means, regarding our real salvation, our personal faith and our God-empowered life:
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit that’s now working in the sons of disobedience” ~vv1-2.
So, the apostle has identified and positioned the believers he’s writing to, by saying: You were once dead in sin, and you were once conducting yourselves like everyone else, in disobedience towards God, being ruled by a spiritual authority, implying blindness – cp. dead in sin – and: deceit – cp. being ruled by a power that was then: unidentified to them.
“We too, all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also” ~v3.
So, Paul “lines us up with” the rest of humanity, in graphic terms, which are best bought out by this application of the Amplified Version’s text:
“Amongst these (type of people), we: as well as you, once lived and conducted ourselves in the strong desires of our bodily motives [our behaviour governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], where we obeyed the impulses of the body’s hormones and dictates, obeying also the impulses and thoughts of our minds [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind” ~v3, clarified.
Now, this is the key factor: “We were then, by nature…”. So, hold-on, there’s a change of nature coming, which makes this “faith angle” much more of a simple case, than a fearsome “loss if you don’t obey” -case. Returning to the apostle’s words:
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! ~vv4-5.
Ah! So, it’s not our faith that saves us, but God’s grace. Phew! And it seems like, according to Paul’s writing, God also completed the job:
“Together with Christ Jesus, He also raised us up and seated us, in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” ~vv6-7.
Now, let’s just hold it here for a moment, before we get into that all-too-familiar scripture that follows: “For you are saved by grace, through faith..”.
Because here, in verses 6 & 7, we have “the jewel in God’s crown” – us! In our true position with God and by the decree of God, each believer is seated with Christ in the heavenly sphere – we were once children of wrath, living in the strong desires of our bodies’ and minds’ dictates – but now, we’ve entered the sphere of God’s love, and been made alive to God, by God.
Previously, by nature, we were completely cut off from God, because we were children of God’s wrath – like kids in rebellion, and left to our rebellion by our Father’s exasperation over us! – and we were children of God’s cutting-off, because of our nature: our rebellious natures. But now, by the revelation of God’s mercy through the gospel – His kindness that we didn’t deserve, and never could have earned – we’ve been made alive to God (~vv4-5).
Question: But, what was God’s purpose in doing this? Why did He choose to save us by his grace – through the virtues of His mercy?
Answer: “so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace, through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” ~v7.
Now, are we going to “let God be kind” or not? Are we going to let Him show though us, the riches of his good character, good intentions, good will, good love, great mercy and loving-kindness or not? For, this is the purpose for which, God has saved us, so that He may show-us-off, as testimonies of His virtues, of His goodness and of His gracious ways.
So, do you think that if God has purposed this, that He will also do it, through us? “Gird up you loins” / pick up your ground-sweeping coat, and get ready to run, because God has promised, through the apostle Paul’s words: “Faithful is He Who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you]” ~1 Thess. 5:24. And even stronger:
God is not a man, that he should lie,
or is He a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it? ~Num. 23:19.
So, if this is God’s purpose in saving us – to show though us, the riches of His good character, the kindness of His good intentions, His good will, His pure love, His great mercy and never ending love, and to show-us-off, as testimonies of these virtues of His, and to show the goodness and grace of His ways through us – then it seems to me to be far above “not letting the devil steal our faith and thereby steal our soul”!
Selah – pause and calmly think of that.
For our goodness’ sake!
So now, let’s look at that “all too familiar” scripture, with this correct background of comprehension, knowing God’s purpose to our salvation, that it’s to show us off, for our goodness sake!
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” ~Eph. 2:8-10.
Our salvation is God’s gift to us. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” ~Rom. 6:23. A gift cannot be earned, it must be given. So, how can this gift of salvation be received?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” ~Rom. 3:23-25.
Let’s look at the terms of that scripture, and we’ll see how to receive this gift of salvation:
~all have sinned: as I’ve written: by our bodies’ motives and minds’ dictates.
~fall short of the glory of God: our old and previous nature, before believing the gospel, is that of a rebellious child who’s been given up by their Father, because of their rebellion; and in this state we don’t even recognize goodness/glory, let alone practice it!
So, in that state, we’ve fallen short of showing any original goodness, or fallen short of the glorious goodness that God intends to show through us.
~justified by His grace as a gift: “justified” = wrongs’-correction and a guilt-free-state; and “by His grace as a gift” = the new nature: “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses”, …even though we were dead in trespasses and sins, He made us alive to Himself in Christ.
Divine justification and eternal wrongs correction, is the grounds for our conscience coming alive to God – our wrongs being corrected in the body of Christ, where He took the guilt and penalty of our sin, to free our conscience.
So, salvation comes as a gift – God making us alive to Himself, through our faith in the gospel. Because it’s:
~through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The gospel is God’s buy-back plan = redemption. If you’ve lost something and you have to replace it, it will cost you something. Well, if we’d lost our place with God, having become estranged from Him as rebels, then a price had to be paid to regain our place with Him = Christ’s sacrificial death. This IS the gift: Christ himself.
~whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood. “propitiation” = sacrificial payment, restoring what was lost. Well, God “put Christ forward” as the gift – as our gift of deliverance from our old, rebellious nature, as the gift of our deliverance from “the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience” unto whom we were yoked in blindness, due to our old nature’s rebellion.
But God.., opened our eyes to receiving the gift of salvation, by the sacrificial and love-ridden gift of His Son! “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” ~John 6:40.
For the sacrificial gift of Christ, is “by His blood” – the very life-blood of the Son of God, poured out upon the earth, as irrefutable evidence that the payment of heaven has been made on earth – our sins are forgiven through His blood; our conscience is set free from guilt through His blood and our obedience is made complete through our faith in His blood.
There is no other way that we can “perfect our faith” than to offer our consciences to God, and rely on the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, and the renewing power of the Spirit “on the Blood” as He takes the Word of God and “stands us up” to the spiritual realities of our times, giving us the divine gifts, to soar over our difficulties, challenges and opportunities for victory.
So, to “save your soul by making your faith overcome the devil’s temptations” is way out of the realm of anyone’s ability, for “even the archangel Michael didn’t rebuke satan, but said: the Lord rebuke you” ~Jude 1:9.
That is to say: we have God’s power to overcome, through our faith in God, but not through our faith in our faith.
~whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. We have no other way, but God’s way. Christ is the gift. Eternal salvation is “the issue”. And the purchase price of our faith, by God’s grace, is the way we receive God’s eternal life: “to be received by faith”.
“For you are saved by (God’s) grace through (your) faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift” ~Eph. 2:8.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him, graciously give us all things?
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?
“Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who therefore, shall separate us from the love of Christ? ~Rom. 8:31-35.
The apostle Paul’s logic in this scripture from Romans 8, is that: If God did it – saving us through His Son’s work – then only God could undo it. That is to say: God’s grace will stay the same and will always be available for our salvation.
God’s grace is the way that He loves us, and has loved us and set us free from sin, in Christ; also: how He’s set us up for victory in Christ and makes us holy.
Now that we have a true idea of how God achieved our salvation in Christ, let’s return to the proper context of 1 Peter chapter one:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
“According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in the heavens for you.
“You are being protected by the power of God, and are guarded through (your) faith, in-view-of a salvation that’s ready to be revealed at every latest, fitting moment” ~1 Pet. 1:3-5.
Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, because we trust in the gospel of Christ, not in our own ability to make our faith pure against any enemy’s assaults on our faith, for we are guarded by God’s power, through our faith in the real, true gospel of God’s grace.
The focus of our faith is on, in and through God, not on our need for more faith!
You may have learned to trust God, which all sincere believers will have learned in-and-for all sorts of circumstances and needs; but have you learned that God trusts you?
It’s the “faith of Christ” that we aim for, since He’s “the first-fruits of them that slept”. That is to say: He’s far much more than an example that we follow. He’s our life-source, and the focus of our convictions here on earth.
Quote: “I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God” ~ASV, and/or “I live by the faith of the Son of God” ~KJV, of the apostle Paul’s personal conviction.
Christ is the “God-Man”. The en-flesh-ment of God, made by God to be a man. He’s God-made-man, as we celebrate Him this Christmas. Why else was He born of a virgin, fulfilled over 300 prophecies by His coming into this earth, was raised form the dead, and is now glorified in the heavens, watching out for your faith, to honor it: