I am preaching on 2 Peter expository style. Many people in my church believe in “no work only grace” teaching. I believe in salvation by grace alone too but I also believe that sanctification needs our complete and careful attention. Scripture reading is important and essential to our Christian growth. I dont believe that our faith/knowledge of Scripture grows magically without any efforts on our part. The problem is many people in my church believe in effortless Christian growth. How would you teach this verse knowing the mindset of your congregation?
@roze4jesus What would you say that your leadership style is within your Church context? Would you say that your congregation is currently in strong agreement with you or is there some tension?
Its 60/40. 60 in favor, 40 always disagreeing no matter whatever I or anyone else teach.
@roze4jesus Disagreeing with anything that is taught or just on this specific issue of sanctification requiring effort on our part?
Does the 40% that disagrees follow any specific teacher/s that is/are the source of disagreement? Or is the disagreement rooted more in social circumstances?
“many people in my church believe in effortless Christian growth. How would you teach this verse knowing the mindset of your congregation?”
Yes, this is a mindset not just for your congregation, we all run into it. I have some thoughts for you and I hope the greater conversation which you can reference will help answer the question.
- To start I would focus on rest of the passage highlighting verse 8 where it says
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This seems to echo what Paul said in
1 Corinthians 3: 1-2
3 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it . Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly.
So Paul in teaching desired to bring people from a place of infancy in the faith to place of maturity.
- But, Paul we might ask we are covered by Grace…?
Romans 6: 1-2 6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be!
We have to remember the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)
- Now read this and draw a comparison to James 2: 14-24
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Luke 12: 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So yes there is Grace given to us by God. However, if we are setting our sights on God and attempting to conform our lives to the teaching of Jesus then our actions should be equal with what we say is in our hearts.
4. Consider Matthew 25: 14-30.
When the Master leaves and gives gifts to His loyal servants (we can assume those having the grace of the master upon them as he entrusts them with gifts) He leaves and the story shows us that those servants who took it to heart and let their actions demonstrate their hearts desires did well. However, if in fear you do nothing, or if you say grace abounds why do anything you are like the last talent man who is cast out.
I hope this helps you
Hi @roze4jesus, I feel that maybe perhaps I might be able to shed some light on this from a different perspective, because I do believe that “once saved, always saved”.
<< Salvation & Works >>
To first dive into 2 Peter 1, since it’s a concern for you:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9)
The passage states that whoever who lacks the necessary traits “forget that they have been cleansed from their sins”. The state of the believer’s salvation is a separate matter from the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins. You can forget that your debt is paid, but that still doesn’t change the truth - that your debt has been paid and settled by Jesus’ sacrifice.
To quote from a popularly used verse:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This verse is what Ravi Zacharias has described to be the quintessential verse that answers “Life’s 4 Fundamental Questions” all in one. The statement is clear on the criteria for salvation - to believe in Christ. There isn’t any additional hidden criteria in terms of what you must do in addition to believe.
<< Faith & Works >>
To build on @scottbeau ’s point with James:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
I think it is a commonly quoted verse that “faith without works is dead”. However, the context of it is more from a POV of doing something before men and to men. God sees us by our faith, but unfortunately men sees us by our works. The only way they can see that you are saved is not by your words, but by your works instead.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
This verse further supports that your “good deeds” are intended for “others to see”.
<< Losing Salvation >>
If we build on the idea that once saved, but NOT always saved, then it begets a few key questions:
How will you know when you fail? (The mere thought equates to doing, and breaking one law means you break all ten.)
How will you know if you have confessed everything? (What if you forgot to confess one sin? And this is not even going into the Greek where the definition of confession is actually “change of mind” rather than declaring your sin.)
Will an unconfessed sin cause you to lose your salvation? (Are there differences in severity of sin?)
If you take a step back, this is actually a similar structure to Islam - where you do not ever know whether your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. There will be no security, and you will be living in constant fear whether that one bad deed you have just did, is one too many to tip the scales into losing salvation. Worse still if you don’t even remember if you have committed that sin.
<< Help Yourself First >>
There is a common saying that goes around that says:
If you don’t help yourself, God won’t help you.
This is not only not biblical, but there is a loophole in the logic. We need a Saviour (or God) because we are unable to do some things by ourselves. If it is something that we can do ourselves, why do we need God to come into the picture for our situation? Furthermore, if it is something that God won’t help, and only He can do, how will we be able to ever do anything about it?
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12-13)
In the verse, even the leper knew that Jesus could. His concern was more if Jesus “would”, and the answer was, yes!
<< Growing in Faith - Your Spiritual Walk >>
I do agree with you that our spiritual walk doesn’t grow without “doing” anything. However, I feel that the general impression of what “works” is, is different from what Jesus wants us to do. Relationships (or spiritual walks) are forged by spending time with the other party, and Jesus definitely wants us to do just that, to just enjoy His presence.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
It is still a form of “doing” something, but it is not the common idea that “I need to do charity work” or “I need to evangelise”. Assuming if there is a need to work (do something about) your salvation to maintain it, it is the same as saying that Christ’s blood was insufficient, and it needs to be shed again like the animals’ blood from the old testament days.
<< Personal Experience >>
Lastly, just to share a personal experience, if you don’t mind. I used to think that after receiving salvation, there is this list that I need to fulfil:
read the bible
have quiet time
However, after some time, I got so burnt out that I decided to leave church for a while. Before accepting Christ, they shared how good the gospel is. However, after accepting Jesus into my life, it felt more like a nightmare where I need to do so many things, or else I will incur God’s wrath, or lose my salvation. It honestly felt as if I got cheated into accepting Christ. Not sure if anyone on these forums felt that way.
It was only after I was introduced into the gospel of “once saved, always saved” and that we can never add to the finished work that Jesus has done on the cross, that it truly liberated me. Our salvation was bought purely with Jesus’ work, just as none of our works (or lack thereof) can do anything to change it as well. After receiving this freedom, I cannot help but want to spend more time in the Word. Once the identity is secured, then the works will come out of the overflowing.
I do feel that many times, people always focus on the works that people should or should not do, like “Don’t cheat people” or “Do read the bible more”. I do recognise the good intent and the heart that they have. However, focusing on the actions will never have a lasting result because it deals with the outside and not the inside. When the individual come to terms that they are a temple of God, they will naturally not want to do things that defile that temple. When they know that Jesus died on the cross to exchange places with them so that they can become children of God, they will naturally want to find out more about what does it mean to be a child of God and dive into the Word. When the believing is right, the living (or doing) will come out naturally.
Just my personal take on this matter, but I am sure there will be more questions to follow in relation to this matter. I do apologise that it runs in contrary to what you are intending to do with your congregation, but I hope it sheds light from a different POV. Please don’t feel obliged that you have to align yourself to my thoughts, and I will definitely be open to counter views and questions on this topic as well, since I am still learning myself.
Looking at what the apostle to the gentiles , Paul, said in his 13 epistles I come to a firm conclusion that we are saved by Grace through faith:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Looking particularly through the book of Romans, which is his first epistle in the biblical canon (not chronologically) and fundamental regarding doctrine for our life in Christ:
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man ist justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
or Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness
Scottbeau mentioned Romans 6:1-2 and if you continue reading you arrive at Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid.
We became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:18). and Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Regarding growth in our life as christians i completely agree with you that it requieres effort from our side.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Paul tells us to read to understand.
Ephesians 3: 1-5
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
By understanding the salvation through grace then Grace will teach us:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Then look in 2 Timothy 3:10-17 he wants us to be throughly furnished unto all good works
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
In the light of Pauls epistles you might show your brothers and sister that the grace we received should teach us. We are not under the law so therefore we are free to let the grace live in our lives and thus should produce good works in our lifes. If it does not produce good fruits, I would even say that the grace perceived is not really understood.
When you continue for example in 2 Peter and arrive at 2 Peter 3:15 he mentions that all the epistles of Paul were known . This means that Peter had access to all what Paul said. So then I believe what is written in 2 Peter 1;5 has transdispensational truth in it. It is impossible that Peter and Paul contradict themselves. All scriptures is given by inspiration of God.
2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Finally there is this beautiful verse in 1 thessalonians 2:13
the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
The word of God works in us believers. Every day. But diligent study and understanding is necessary. Then once understood what does it mean to have christ in us, which is the mystery Paul talks about us in Colossians 1:26-27 this should produce then an abundancy of good works and thirst for the word of God. Here some verses regarding Gods word.
Hope this helps!
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Gd
his word was in my heart like a burning fire
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord
Hello, Rose. I believe “once saved, always saved,” but that is not the same thing as being hyper about grace to the point of thinking we don’t need spiritual disciplines in our lives or that our faith or knowledge grows magically without effort. On the contrary…! Can I ask how you have approached this with your congregation? If your congregation believes in effortless growth, I would, as others have pointed out, pair the teaching with some of Paul’s. Paul did not believe in effortless Christian growth, either. Paul talked about spiritual discipline and training and compared it to that of the physical discipline and training involved with getting ready to run a race. Scripture and prayer are provided as, for lack of a better term, means of grace through which we are edified in and with the knowledge of God and His ways by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us.
One thought that I have as I am writing is that if, indeed, the congregation is using the “once saved, always saved” to justify spiritual idleness, there might be a root identity issue there. If you notice, Paul usually saw the root of problems like these as being some kind of misunderstanding relating to identity in Christ. For instance, I believe (if I am remembering correctly) the Corinthians had an over-realized eschatology based on faulty understanding of the the kingdom’s presence or the resurrection as it regarded them in their earthly lives, and so they were not growing as they should have been. Evidently, judging from Paul’s mocking in 1 Corinthians, they thought they were already reigning! So my advice, I guess, would be to look at how Paul approached these issues (I don’t think I would be as harsh as he comes across…), but I would also point out that going to an extreme of legalism like @Kyrie was talking about is not what you are getting at, too. A spiritually younger portion of the congregation is usually very wary about anything that promotes any kind of works for growth. More often than not, there is a fear of legalism that results in an extreme born from over-correction. This may not be the case here, but I find that it is normally, at least in part, to blame for people’s not wanting to believe that believers have any responsibility in their spiritual growth.
One last thought. The Christian faith is based on a relationship. My questions to the 27-year-old I was mentoring, when she told me she didn’t need to do anything to grow spiritually, was, “Do I no longer need to spend time with my husband, since we are already married? Will we just grow grow as a couple automatically without anymore time spent with each other?” She looked at me with alarm. I told her that it is the same in our relationship with the Lord. Relationships are two-way streets, and our relationship with the Lord is vital to our spiritual well-being. We are told in Scripture by Jesus to “abide” in him and that he would “abide” in us. Abiding is an ongoing, active action. In order for our relationship with God, which is the source of our spiritual growth, to be healthy, we have to spend time with Him. It’s just like any other relationship, except any other relationship is not life-giving! So, prayer and reading Scripture are important, because those are two ways in which we grow in our relationship with the Lord and, in turn, by and through His grace, grow into maturity in Christ (sanctification!).
I have been interrupted several times, so I hope I am making sense and that this helps!
That response was all I imagined offering an more. Thanks very much for responding to her. I’ve read Titus but for whatever reason that verse did not pop to the forefront till you mentioned it and it is truly and excellent point! Thanks again.