You’ll find below an excerpt from an article that was sent to me recently (this one written by Raymond S. Kraft). I find what is said here to be rather interesting, as I shared some very similar thoughts with a brother just a few hours before I received this.
In regard to the excerpt; it is true that Jesus did not teach salvation by religion. It is also true that He did not teach salvation by faith alone in Him, but rather, Jesus taught that one must first believe in Him to be JUSTIFIED, which is only the very first STAGE of the salvation PROCESS.
A few questions come to my mind after reading the following excerpt, they are: Just what is it that awaits those “Christians” who, though justified by faith, never actually take up their crosses to the point that they can become the very expression of the Father’s heart to people in the earth? Will their religion “save” them? Will all of their church time, diligent bible study, and times of prayer actually “save” them? Or is it possible that the process of “salvation” (that which leads to “wholeness” in spirit, soul, and body) actually includes (and requires) our actual experiential reaching out to help people, providing for their needs, loving on them; actually BEING Christ in the earth to them?
I’ve got to say that it is really hard to read Jesus’ words below and not believe that the latter is so. I’ve shared with a brother recently that it seems to me that there are way too many wannabe “Sons” out there today who are just sitting around waiting to become perfect and mature yet who are not stepping out in FAITH so that they might start DOING what mature “Sons” actually DO!
Along with this, the question also arises: Is it just a matter of TIME before full-blown “Sons of God” are made manifest in the earth, or does that manifestation actually depend upon a people RISING UP IN FAITH whereby they can STEP OUT of the comfort bubbles that they have created for themselves to then STEP INTO that which “Sons” are supposed to be doing? I tend to think that it’s the latter here, once again.
With this in mind, when you hear someone say, “Sons of God, ARISE!” — you should realize that such a word actually requires a mixing of SON-LIKE FAITH with it if one is ever going to be able to “ARISE” and DO what a “Son” actually does! What is it that a Son does? Well, beloved, a Son simply walks as ONE in will and purpose with the Father. The MEAT of a Son is to DO the will of the Father and to finish HIS WORK WHEREVER the Son goes! This can only be done by living as a SACRIFICE, though, which is a life lived for NO OTHER PURPOSE than to be a blessing to people in the earth and to see God’s Kingdom come.
This “sacrificial life,” by the way, is referred to in scripture as “only our reasonable service.” Man, we (the church today) don’t realize just how far we’ve slipped away from what we are called to be! If we would be honest with ourselves regarding our true spiritual state for even just a moment, most of us would probably realize that a look into the face of a lukewarm Laodicean is not any further away than a mirror!
Anyway, most of you should be blessed by the following excerpt. Please keep in mind as you read this (and in digesting what I have shared above) that “salvation” (Gk- “sozo”), as taught by Jesus, is not a matter of being “saved from hell to go to heaven,” but rather, is a matter of being fully conformed into the likeness and image of the Son of God. Please, keep this in mind when you read what this brother has written. Also, take notice that I have inserted the Greek word “aionian” next to the word “eternal” in the passages of scripture below, as “eternal” is an incorrect translation of the original Greek word that was used in those passages. Bless you all. In Him – D
Nearing the end of his ministry, not long before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke of the judgment of the nations, The Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46, saying:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit upon His glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before Him. And He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Me, ill and you cared for Me, in prison and you visited Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You ill or in prison, and visit You?’
“And the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’
“Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from Me, you accursed, into the eternal (aionian) fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, a stranger and you gave Me no welcome, naked and you gave Me no clothing, ill and in prison and you did not care for Me.
“Then they will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to Your needs?’
“He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for Me.’ And these will go off to eternal (aionian) punishment, but the righteous to eternal (aionian) life.”
This is a very interesting quotation of Jesus’ words, as much for what he does not say, as for what he does. Jesus does not say, “You followed the laws of Moses, you kept shabat, you observed the festivals and holy days, and studied the prophets and the books of wisdom and the Talmud, and paid tithe, enter into the kingdom…”
Jesus does not say, “You believed in the Apostles Creed, or the Nicene Creed, you studied the Catechism, you went to mass faithfully and confession frequently, and performed all the acts of contrition required of you, enter into the kingdom…”
Jesus does not say, “You protested against the corrupted Papacy, and accepted Luther’s teaching of salvation by faith, and faith alone, you prayed every day for the forgiveness of your sins, and went to church every Sunday, enter into the kingdom…”
Jesus does not say, “You believed in the one true religion, the one true doctrine, the right creed, the right theology, you understood the mysteries of Daniel and the Revelation to John, you studied the great writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, and the lives of the many saints, enter into the kingdom…”
Jesus does not say, “You believed in the teachings of Joseph Smith, or Ellen G. White, or Mary Baker Eddy, or Billy Graham, enter into the kingdom…”
Jesus does not even say, “You believed in me, you accepted me, Jesus, as your personal Lord and Savior, enter into the kingdom…”
Jesus does not teach salvation by religion. Jesus does not teach salvation by the observance of religious law, salvation by faith, salvation by belief, salvation by confession or penance or contrition, salvation by communion, or salvation by theology. Jesus does not teach salvation by right thinking. No, Jesus says, “You were kind. You lived and acted with a spirit of charity. You helped others who needed help, when you could, as you could. You observed the Second Commandment, which is, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, and by following the Second Commandment, you also fulfilled the First Commandment, You shall love the Lord with all your heart (Matthew 22:37). For what you have done to the least of these brothers of Mine, you have done to Me. By loving them, you have loved Me.”
* * * * * * * * addendum * * * * * * * *
With the hope of bringing just a little more clarity to what Mr. Kraft has said, I feel to add here that WE are changed by the revelation of God as we see HIM in the face of the lost and the hurting and the poor and the afflicted. What I mean by this is that through our interaction with the hurting people in this world and by way of the unconditional giving out of ourselves for them, we can somehow have an encounter with God that I really don’t think can be had otherwise.
Now of course, we enter into God’s “salvation” by grace through faith, and this not of ourselves for it is a gift of God. But, there is also a path that we must walk, beloved, a path which takes us on into the FULLNESS of Christ’s life. This path is THE WAY of our learning to give out of ourselves sacrificially for others, and is a part of that portion of our salvation that MUST BE “WORKED OUT” before God with “fear and trembling.”
Now, “fear and trembling” describes a continual process that must not be taken lightly. This is the process that brings us to completely distrust our own ability in meeting any task and yet at the same time be willing to BOLDLY STEP OUT in faith (even in ministry to others) knowing that it is God who is at work within us causing us to will and to work FOR HIS GOOD PLEASURE.
Anyway, for those of you who have not yet read the article entitled “Wholly Sanctified,” I strongly encourage you to read that. Many blessings to you. — D