Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Logical Dilemma of a Works-Based Gospel

Today I want to talk about the fallacy of adding works to the Cross in order to attain salvation.  What it really comes down a choice as to whether we see God as our Father or as our Santa Clause. It also comes down to a bizarre misunderstanding of just what a gift is.  I will begin today with the Scripture that ended yesterday's post.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
I do not see how this verse is ignored by so many, but it is.  They use some sort of convoluted circular bizarre reasoning to fit it into their wrong doctrine,  The argument is similar to what the Mormons say.  We can not be saved by our works, but we have to do works to be saved.  We have to show God we are trying, although we will never be good enough.  Salvation then becomes a gift, but only to those who try to earn it and realize that they can not.  I do not recall Jesus ever turning someone away telling them to try to earn it first if they want to qualify for his grace and then continue to try to earn it to keep it even though they can't.  What happens is that we are no longer saved by the blood of Jesus alone, but His blood only acts as a supplement to make up the difference to earn salvation for those that really try.  So, by their argument, we are not saved by works but we need works to be saved.  We are told that salvation is a gift, but we have to earn that gift.

That is where Santa Clause comes into the discussion.  Santa Clause gives gifts to all "good" boys and girls each Christmas.  Parents who try to mix Jesus and Santa Clause are foolish.  You can not use something unscriptural to illustrate the Word of God made flesh.  The idea of Santa Clause is that he keeps a naughty and nice list.  If you are nice, you get a present.  If you are naughty, you get a lump of coal.  Personally, I do not know anyone who has ever gotten a lump of coal, but that is the idea.  Even when parents take their children to visit Santa Clause in the mall, he always asks "What do you want?"  and "Have you been good?"  If being good is a prerequisite to receive something good, can we really call it a gift?  If you answered "yes," I invite you to take a moment and reference a dictionary.  What Santa Clause gives are rewards.  If you were good, you are rewarded.  If you are bad, you are punished.  Santa Clause is about works and that work is being good.  That does not seem like Jesus at all!  If Santa were like Jesus, you would only need to believe in him as your gift-giver and you would receive gifts.  It would not matter if you were bad or good, only that you believed. 

However, the Bible does not talk about God as our Santa Clause.  The Bible talks about God as our Father.  Can you imagine a father telling his son or daughter that they had to earn their birthday present?  Can you imagine a dad saying "Son, over there is a wrapped gift for your birthday.  If you do all your chores, give me proper respect, and behave, then you can have it."   That would be ridiculous!  That is not what any father does when it comes to gifts. No reasonable father expects their children to earn their gifts!  If one has to do chores, show respect, and behave to receive it, then it is not a gift.  This time, what you have is an allowance. 

Fathers give gifts to their children.  They are given merely because of that father child relationship.  Fathers give gifts to their children because they are their children.  The give them out of love.  That is what a gift is.  If you have to earn it, it is not a gift.  If you have to behave a certain way to get it, it is not a gift,  If you have to give homage to receive it, it is not a gift.  Gifts merely need to be received.  When a father hands a child a gift, the only thing that should come in the way of the child receiving that gift is the child refusing it.  Once there are strings attached, it is no longer a gift.  Gifts are free and once given they can not be taken back.  Just ask Judge Judy, she will tell you.  I will say this once more to emphasize the point: For a gift to be a gift, it can have no strings attached. 

Please do not let anyone try to convince you otherwise.  You can not earn salvation.  You can not even partially earn it.  You should not even try to earn it.  Salvation is a free gift of God to all mankind.  It is up to you whether you receive or refuse that gift.  When you stand before God, He is not going to ask whether you were naughty or nice.  There is no point to asking.  If we had any ability to not be naughty, Jesus would not have had to died.  When you stand before God, the only question that will matter is whether or not you accepted that free gift offered to you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  In other words, the one thing that will matter is whether He is your Father or if He is a stranger. 
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  Galatians 3:1-3 NKJV

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