By David Stahl

As we walk this wondrous and mysterious walk with the LORD I see the importance of following God and His word as it is written.  Many Christians talk about the symbolism in the Bible (word of God) and I must agree there is so much I do not understand, but we are not to take the word of God and read or even interpret it as we wish.  Our opinion on the word of God matters little to God.  His word is settled in the earth and in the heavens.  His word is written from His perspective not ours, so when we read the Bible as we wish or interpret according to what we believe we get into great trouble with God and get off track. The Body of Christ today is in a mess because we have “selected reading” when it comes to the word of God and choose what verses we will follow and what verses we will shun at the sake of our spiritual demise. One of the hottest topics in the Body of Christ (other than ladies in ministry and speaking in tongues) is the conversation of our salvation in Christ (which is much more than having our sins forgiven) through faith or grace.  There are two camps out there:  the faith camp that says we are saved only by faith all we have to do is just believe in faith Jesus died for our sins and when we die (no matter how we lived our life) we will go to heaven and receive our eternal reward.  Just believe and that will get us through, well the Bible tells us demons believe.  James tells us, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20)So it has to be more than just believing and faith. Then on the other hand there is the grace camp who says we are saved by grace (which is true) alone.  It is God’s grace that saves us and there is nothing we have to do, except receive of it and when we die we will go to be with the LORD forever and receive our eternal reward.  This doctrine is just as bad as the once saved always saved doctrine; when I was nine maybe ten I walked the aisle and made a commitment to Christ and now when I die I will go to heaven and live forever with my reward.  There must be more.  A few years ago, while in Bulgaria I sat down with a pastor over a cup of coffee (Bulgarians like coffee more than any other country in the world) who told me of his new revelation from God, grace. Well there is nothing new about grace (God changes not), but there are always new twists and misinterpretations of grace.  The pastor’s new revelation was nothing more than God’s grace repackaged and wrapped up with a new red bow and sold to his people as something new and fresh, “no matter what you do God will forgive you” and this is true, but this is not God’s grace this is a license to sin and then count on God’s and our brothers and sisters mercy and grace to give forgiveness without any consequence for our action.  The pitch is God does all of the work and you can do whatsoever you want to do and still go to heaven.  And if you are really saved then God’s grace will prevent you from sinning.  Sadly if the members of his congregation have not allowed God to work in their lives (where they are the “workmanship of God”) where they can handle a little bit of Christian liberty (few Christians have) then the pastor is setting his congregation up for failure and a long way back to correction if they can find the way.  So which camp is right?  Well they both are wrong and both are causing great confusion, schism, and division within the Body of Christ.  Paul gives us the answer in Ephesians, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it isthe gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)Our salvation (which is much more than having our sins forgiven) is by grace through faith and I will add this process happens in us as we allow God to work in our lives (taking us through some difficult times and situations) becoming (a life-long process) “his workmanship.”  We were created by God “unto good works,”and God ordained that we should walk in them.  Now the “good works”are NOT the good things we do for God and man, but the“good works”are the things we allow God to bring into our lives that help make us become “His workmanship”conforming us into the image (icon) of Jesus Christ.  If we get this wrong and get too far over into grace at the exclusion of faith our lives will manifest a lascivious (showing much interest in sex and lustfulness) life-style where our fleshly sins will rule and reign in our lives. We will know no limits or restrictions (which are what brings us to fulfillment and purpose in God), do what we want to do, say what we want to say, go where we what to go who cares what God wants.  This misapplication of truth will get us so far off track and the sad thing is Christians do not even know it.  They think they are walking in the light of God’s word, but in reality they are over into presumption (thinking they know the truth, but in reality they are wrong) and far off the path of knowing God.  Now just as bad as the grace camp is the faith camp. If we get too far over in faith then we will get over into legalism; a performance based religion where we think must do things (pay our tithes, clean the church cut the church grass, spend so much time reading the Bible or in prayers, and etc.)  to please God to be saved and just like when over in grace too far we are over in presumption, wrongly thinking we know the truth of the Scriptures, but woefully missing the mark. Many Christians say the truth will prevent us from falling into either camp, well that is almost right. In John Jesus gives us the key that will prevent us from falling into legalism or lasciviousness.  In John we read, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. 30As he spake these words, many believed on him. 31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, thenare ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:29-32)  Now notice Jesus was talking to people who believed He was the Messiah, who believed He was the Son so it must take more than believing to know truth or even become a disciple of God.  Which begs the points to be asked, if we only believe are we a disciple?  I think if we only believed and then die we may (that is God’s call) go to heaven (and for some that is enough), but to be a disciple of Christ where we can do the things Jesus asked us to do in Matthew 28, “Go ye therefore, and teach(making disciples in the Greek)all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  20Teaching them to observe all thingswhatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, evenunto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28:20-21)there must be more.  The word “teach”in verse 19 and “teaching”in verse 20 is translated from the same word in the Greek:  as making or becoming learners or pupils. We are called to make disciples (teaching all nations), to make pupils, to make learners, and to do this we must do more than just believe, there is a deeper level of commitment and dedication we must engage with God to be able to make disciples of all nations. And it is not about truth, but it is about knowing the truth.  Truth alone saves no one, but knowing the truth will set us free of ourselves and life’s many troubles and situations.  To know truth we must abide in the words of Christ that is what Jesus told the Christians who only believed on Him and if we do that then we will be disciples in deed (action and commitment) and able to do what Jesus asked us to do.  Sadly the majority of the Body of Christ cannot disciple someone, because they have never been discipled themselves.  There does not seem to be a big desire in the Body of Christ today to make disciples, but there does seem to be a big desire for evangelism.  I can get my name up in lights and make a name for myself.  And oh the money I can make for God’s kingdom.  In evangelism you really do not get your hands dirty, just share the gospel and off you go to the next crusade where making disciples happens every day of our lives as we mentor and instruct people, as we deal with relationships, religion, denominations, attitudes, emotions, and the greatest enemy our flesh.  I am not sure when the switch happened to evangelism from Jesus’ words to make disciples, but we need to get back to living Godly lives were we can point at our lives as Paul did when he said, “follow me as I follow Christ.”  Now notice the reply of the people, “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?”and “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: butthe Son abideth ever. 36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.38I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.”  (John 34-40) Now remember Jesus is talking to people who knew Him as the Son of God, who believed on Him, but seek to kill Him.  Jesus cuts to the chase and says, Ye are of yourfather the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  45And because I tell youthe truth, ye believe me not.”  (John 8:44-45)Again Jesus was talking to people who thought they were Christians who believed, but in the end they too were over in presumption.  You see it is more than truth it is more than believing, it is about knowing the truth, it is about allowing His words to abide in us, then and only then will we be free.  

My friend we must abide in the word of Jesus by abiding in the word of the Scriptures. If it says (and it does) “we are saved by grace through faith”then believe it and then stake your life upon it.  Let’s go back to God’s words and stop trying to be interpret and change up what God is saying (so that we can get a big name or make a lot of money) to us in His Scriptures.  They are His words not ours, we are to be His disciples and this will only happen when we allow God’s words to abide in us.