I saw this girl that was cussing at her parents. And compared to those people, I felt really good about myself. I thought I was a good person. I thought God was pleased with me and I thought I was going to heaven when I died. And one of the first things that I remember distinctly is actually taking a Bible to church and not only that, actually opening the Bible in church. Everyone there was so nice. They were so kind. So, we continued attending that church.
I never heard those words before. I thought he made them up. And I graduated from high school and I was perfectly content with my life. Spiritually, I felt successful, I felt like I was good with God. Everything was fine. And in senior summer of high school things started to change. For three months there was nothing but constant conflict and feuding.
Day in and day out there was just fighting and it started to weigh very heavy on me. But I was constantly confronted with what was going on in my family. And then one day, this little bit of anger and this little bit of rage and hate just starts to grow. And then one day those thoughts just turned towards myself and I start hating myself, I start despising myself, I start hating my life and I want a way out.
I want out now, I want to end my life now. So, I thought of different ways to kill myself. There were a few times where I came very, very close. For that moment I saw that all those murderous, suicidal thoughts were filthy and they literally made me sick to my stomach. The more I thought, the more I realized that my so called good deeds and my so called goodness had nothing whatsoever to do with God. It was all about me. It was all about my ego, my reputation. How did I look? Jeremiah says that the hearts deceitful. And I looked back on those eighteen years of my life and I realized, I had been nothing but deceiving myself for the entire time.
And I was more angry with myself, I was disgusted with myself, I was disgusted with my nature. I wanted to change, but physically and mentally and emotionally I was just too exhausted to try to reform myself. I was too exhausted to try to figure out how to fix this. So, I became apathetic.
All I wanted to do was stay in bed and live day to day and die and be done with this whole existence thing. I was tired. August , I moved into my dorm in San Antonio. And I thought the host was lying. There is no one that seeks after God. Immediately, I start thinking about excuses, I start thinking about defenses. What about my good works? Outside of Christ, all our little good deeds are an abomination, filthy before God.
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I started to panic. For the first time in my life, I was scared. I started putting two and two together. Then Jacquelyn Johnson, little miss straight A student, little miss goodie two shoes, little miss perfect, deserves hell.
What does it mean to be saved?
And I started to panic. I started flipping through my Bible, going through Scriptures. What struck me about that passage, is that there was no one in between. But you know what Scripture says? Scripture says I was dead in sin. Scripture said I love myself more than I love God. Scripture said, in Romans chapter eight, that my mind was at enmity with God. I was an enemy of God, contrary to what I would have told you at that point. You have to be perfect to get to heaven. Based on those characteristics alone, God cannot tolerate sin in His presence.
You could give up. Game over. We are not judged by comparing ourselves to people around us. Because the funny thing is, you can always find someone that looks worse than you. You can always find someone that gives your ego a boost and your sense of self esteem a boost and your sense of pride a boost. That animal might look pretty white. You take that same animal and you place that thing against the snow, it looks filthy and it looks dirty. God shows you, this is your real nature, this is what you really are, this is really how I see you and ultimately this is really all that matters.
God confronted me. He showed me that I had a sinful record before God. He showed me that my mind and my heart and everything about me was filthy, was wicked, was evil, was depraved, was destitute. There was nothing good about me. He showed me I had no merit in and of myself to save myself. And more importantly, He showed me that, for eighteen years of my life I had sinned against Him.
The same God that gave me life, for eighteen years I did nothing but shake my fist in His face. I was humbled and I was crushed. Every defense I had ever known was stripped away and I gave up on trying to save myself. God, save me! God, forgive me! God, help me! God, change me!
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And I turned, I repented from that self righteous garbage and I turned from being my own God, from being my own idol. It was all by His doing. To God alone be the glory! To Him only! And when the cup was turned over, nothing was left. He was sinless and He was perfect in word, thought and deed. And He took my wrath, He took my punishment for me. All these are imparted to you from God, by the Holy Spirit—as His gift! But these are given to you to live by —to use , in order to grow spiritually in knowledge and grace, and to overcome.
Your evil works—disobedience of the commandments—will earn you the penalty of death. But what about good works. Do they earn you anything? They do not earn salvation. They do not earn eternal life. They will not get you into the Kingdom of God! You get in by grace! First notice what Jesus said— after His resurrection—inspired after the year a.
Nowhere does the Bible teach being saved by our works, but it does teach the degree of reward according to works. Notice this distinction! This man did evil works. He will be rewarded —that is, paid wages according to his works —and the wages of sin is death —eternal punishment.
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But works earn wages, paid as a debt. So what we want is not grace or works , but grace and works. To correct this error, Jesus spoke this parable. Now continue:. That is, to the so-called lost 10 tribes of Israel. This is speaking of every converted true Christian, to whom God has given of His Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts. And notice that this reward will be according to his works in this present mortal life.
Continue, verses And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. Notice carefully! But they are rewarded—that is, given authority, or rule, or position—according to their works —according to how well they did with what they had to do with while Christ was in heaven —that is, during their Christian lives.
Beginning verse 20—read it in your Bible—the one who gained nothing in this present mortal life—the one who had no good works—not only was not given any position—but even had taken away from him even the spiritual gift he had been given! In this parable the English pound, the basic English unit of money, is used in translation as a symbol of spiritual value.
This parable teaches what has been shown by other scriptures in this article—that the Christian must overcome ; he must grow spiritually—grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ 2 Peter We are being saved to serve —and if we do not qualify to serve, we may have taken away even the salvation we thought we had! The parable of the talents Matthew shows the same thing, showing that each is judged by what he has to do with. Finally, see where all this leads us. Man is mortal , without inherent life, possessing in himself only a transitory physical, chemical existence.
But, once receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, entering upon the Christian life, this Christian life is pictured as a race in a stadium, or in a contest. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run , that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [those unconverted] do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we [Christians] an incorruptible.
We must strive to overcome. We must fight temptation and sin. The Christian life was pictured by Jesus as the hard, rutty, difficult way— not the easy way that leads to destruction. But, once we receive the Holy Spirit, it does not remain bottled up; it does not stagnate; it is not static—it flows in outgoing concern love to fellow man, and in worship, reverence, obedience to God.
It flows into us from God. We can love God only because He first loved us—our love toward God is only a return of His love, which He gives to us. The parable of the sower and the seed illustrates this. There were four classes. The first heard the gospel message, but it never conceived—they never were converted.
They may still have a chance—later. A second class was converted, with great joy, but simply had no spiritual depth of character, and endured only for a while, but yielded to temptations until they fell away—that is, continually , till they quit trying. You must bring forth fruit —make spiritual progress —develop spiritual character! But the lack of good works can get you lost , if persisted in! All of these were saved! But those who bring forth a hundredfold, during their Christian lives, will receive a higher reward , or position in the Kingdom, than those who produce only fold!
Here we are likened to a grapevine and its branches. The branches did not get themselves joined on to the main Vine by their own efforts. Notice this whole picture, in John God the Father is the Husbandman—the Vine-dresser—the chief Gardener, who prunes the branches. How will it flow on out of us? But it is not our righteousness! This is the faith that saves!
Some of these Gentile converts at Corinth wanted to be followers of Paul, others of Peter, others of Apollos. Paul was showing them that he and Apollos, mere humans, were as nothing compared to God. The apostle continued:. Once again, our works do earn wages—either good or bad. Evil works earn eternal death. He now pictures the Church as a building being built. The foundation did not come by our works! He gave us the foundation to build upon. We must grow spiritually 2 Peter Now notice the materials mentioned in building the superstructure of the building.
The most valuable is mentioned first— gold. Second in value and quality of building materials is mentioned next, silver. Next, precious stones; next, wood—far less valuable. But now we come down to cheapness and inferior quality — hay! Hay might be used in covering a tropical hut—but it is very inferior building material. Yet, a horse could eat it—it has some little value.
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But, lastly, we come to straw or stubble! Its value is about nil. In this scriptural passage, we are primarily concerned with building character. To understand this, we need to turn to the third chapter of Malachi. This, like so many prophecies, is dual in application. But who may abide the day of his coming?
But the pure gold, silver or precious stones we have built on the foundation of Christ will then be manifest —it will come through the test.
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But the wood, hay and straw will be burned up. They have sought, and found, the true values of life.
They have striven to overcome. They have kept close to God, by daily Bible study and prayer. They have built righteous, spiritual, sterling character! In other words, they have built on the foundation with gold, silver and precious stones. These have survived the test. They came through the fire. Most of their works of their Christian lives will be burned up when the final examination comes. They suffer the loss of higher position—greater authority for service and doing good—but they themselves will be saved.
Why do most of those who claim to be the very clergy of Jesus Christ say there are no works whatever in the Christian life? The development of the very character of the living God —preparing for rulership —qualifying for service —have no place in their false theology.
The answer is that God put humans on Earth for a purpose! That purpose is stated in Genesis —God is actually reproducing Himself! God is the supreme spiritual character —holy, righteous, perfect. We, to be actually born of Him— born into His Family as His divine children—must be changed, not only from mortal to immortal—not only from human to divine—but from our human nature and sinning character into His divine nature 2 Peter and into His holiness and perfection of character 1 Peter ; Matthew And that must be developed, through the Christian life!
It means overcoming, growing in knowledge and character!