Christ IS Lord
A Salvation In Deed (Indeed) and Not in Notion or Talk Only
By Curt Wildy
You can find quite a few preachers, evangelists, and teachers who define the Gospel very well. They can tell you who Christ is very well. They can tell you about His perfectly-obedient sojourn, even His utter faithfulness to God the Father and to His law, very well. They can declare His blessed divinity as the Second Person in the Triune Godhead; they can tell you all about His finished work on the cross, and how He established a perfect righteousness for His people, justifying them to the utmost, guaranteeing their complete salvation… all very well. They can declare that He is our perfect wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification. They can speak of eternal vital union, and how He is the Vine and we are the branch, and how we can do nothing apart from Him. They can tell you how all of your (natural) works are as filthy rags, how spiritually impotent we are by nature, and how wretched this body of death is, indeed they can tell you all these things, very well. They can distinguish the true Gospel from free-will (Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, Pelagian, Arian, Sacramentalist, and related) counterfeits. They can tell you how the Christian is dead to the law for righteousness, and how we are to turn from dead works, and from the law of Moses (unto Christ and His great work). In other words, they can tell you all of the aspects of how a person is saved (and distinguish that how from all of the false means and methods that abound); they can do all such things… very well… and we should commend them for this seeing that this is what faithful witnesses, preachers, and evangelists should do. It’s even what faithful elders/bishops/pastors should do…amongst other things.
Sadly, there are very few pastors/elders/bishops, deacons, bible school teachers, etc. who can do all of the above, even doing it very well, whilst also routinely telling us what God has called us unto in light of His great salvation. In other words, there are very few who can holistically instruct us regarding what we ought to do, going forward, in light of that great, blood-bought salvation. In fact, some would even scoff at the notion that we are to do anything (perhaps, besides proclaim the Gospel) believing that because “Jesus did it all” for our salvation, there really isn’t anything for us to do, in light of that salvation. Thus, there are very few who can adequately tell us (or that will regularly remind us) that we weren’t saved ‘just to be saved‘ (i.e., that we weren’t saved to glorify God solely in the fact that He saved us), but that we were saved for a multifaceted, divine purpose, and that purpose is to love, worship, serve, and obey Him, unto His glory, and unto the building up of His people. Very few will declare that ‘Herein is [God the] Father glorified, that we bear much fruit‘ [and in so doing] ‘so shall we be Christ’s disciples‘ (John 15:8). Quite a few will say amen to John 15:16a “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you,” even quoting this portion of the verse often; yet, how few will equally emphasize John 15:16b which states “…that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain.” This bearing of fruit is one and the same with the following passages (which are hardly ever stressed or emphasized by those who are skilled concerning the preaching of the cross, but not so much so on how to live in light of the blessed cross-work of Christ):
Titus 2:9-10 “[Exhort] servants to be obedient unto their own masters, [and] to please [them] well in all [things]; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
Matthew 5:13-16 “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.“
Philippians 2:12-16 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
1 Peter 2:11-23 “Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18 Servants, [be] subject to [your] masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this [is] thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously…”
1 Peter 3:13-17 “And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”
The cross-only preachers, teachers, and “pastors,” will scarcely touch on passages like the above. Out in the mission field, or when witnessing to the lost here at home, this is understandable (seeing that one must be saved before they can set about to do the things that accompany salvation). However, woe to those “pastors” (not preachers, evangelists, witnesses, but those caling themselves pastors) that only preach the cross, to the exclusion of those things that are necessary for navigating our walk in this world, in light of the cross. These are mere milkmen; they pride themselves on verses like 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” not realising that this statement isn’t one to boast in (if the congregation is a strong, mature-in-Christ one), but is an indication of what is most needful for babes, those in need of milk, those who are yet carnal in their walk and mindset. If year after year, decade after decade, the milkmen only deliver the milk, and never the meat, their congregation will grow stunted, even as I have grown (which is why I thank God for being exposed to those who venture beyond the foundation, though never forsaking them, or setting them aside or at nought, but declaring both together — which is the very clear biblical model throughout NT Scripture). We need to hear the Gospel preached faithfully and regularly; we need to be reminded of the cross, the blood, of the forgiveness of sin found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the staple, the foundation; however, if we are to be led by the Spirit of God to press on to maturity, we also need to hear the whole counsel of God — something the milkmen cannot proclaim, and thus will not proclaim.
As an example, we see that very few pastors/elders/deacons/bible teachers out there will remind us regularly, consistently, and thoroughly, that we are saved to deny ourselves daily (Matthew 16:24); to bear (take up) our respective crosses daily (Mark 8:34); to keep His commandments daily (1 John 5:2-3); to die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31); to mortify our members (and the deeds associated with them) daily (Romans 8:13 / Colossians 3:5); to buffet our bodies and to keep them in subjection daily (1 Corinthians 9:27); to cast down our ungodly imaginations (even every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God), and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, daily (2 Corinthians 10:5); to exhort one another in Gospel truth daily (Hebrews 3:13); to provoke one another unto good works and labours of love daily (Hebrews 10:24); to bear the burdens of one another daily (Galatians 6:2); to confess our faults and to pray for one another daily (James 5:16); and to otherwise serve both God and His elect daily (Galatians 5:13 / Ecclesiastes 12:13 / Mark 10:43-44). — No… sadly many of them will speak against the spiritual law of God by conflating (or confusing) it with the abrogated Mosaic Law, even telling people we are so dead to “the law” (without distinguishing which one is in view) that “it” has nothing to do with us anymore. They lie; they say that the law of God has nothing to do with our sanctification when, in fact, though the Christian is perfectly sanctified in/by/through Christ objectively speaking, our manifest sanctification (holiness before men) is directly connected to the extant law of God, the extant commandments, as read by us, and as applied to our hearts by the Holy Ghost (who leads us through His word). They will speak of faith and love, rarely if ever rightly defining it, as they seek to obviate (or negate) our duty to keep the commandments, and to obey the word of God, by declaring that having this undefined (or ill-defined) “love” and “faith” is all the commandment-keeping we ever need to worry about. They confuse God-wrought good works and bearing fruit (which is synonymous with serving the spiritual law of God, the law that Paul called “spiritual”) with going about to establish a righteousness of our own for justification, and/or for salvation. They do not understand that the conclusion of the whole matter really is to “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) — or that encompassed within that conclusion, that whole duty (having the most preeminent position, is the command to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, to love God with all of out hearts/minds/souls, and to love the brethren as Christ loved us.
But what about me? Have I written the above as one who has arrived? As one who lives up to the above? Sadly, no. Not even close. I write as one who has embraced the above-mentioned error for so long, and who feasted on milk only for so long, that despite knowing better for quite some time now, my walk is still nothing short of pathetic. And yet, all I can say now is that (1) I thank God that He has given us whole-counsel-of-God pastors/preachers/teachers to truly under-shepherd His eternal flock and that (2) He has given me, and countless others like me, a real hungering and thirsting to do His will, to hear His word holistically proclaimed, and to be under His yoke (for it is infinitely lighter than the burden I impose on myself when I seek to do my own will and to follow after my own lusts, imaginations, and surmisings). I see more and more how very far short I fall, and I am admittedly jealous of the strength, fidelity, and zeal other brethren seem to have; and yet I do not despair — I have much hope. Why? Because God could have left me as those who despise His yoke, who despise His reign and Lordship, who want nothing to do with his extant law and commandments, and who think service to Him consists primarily of identifying/refuting will-worshipers, promoting “mental assent alone,” and putting forth the same quotes/memes/soundbites over and over again. No, service to God, as is becoming clearer and clearer to me (by His grace only), means (a) hearing His word; (b) studying it; (c) submitting to it; (d) and walking in accordance with it (as much as is in me, seeing He is in me, all by His effectual grace and power). I was saved to serve, to work, to labour, to suffer, to agonize, to deny self, and to minister to the brethren. I was saved not only to declare the Gospel but also to live it, to adorn it, and to be so thoroughly committed to it (and to God and His word as a whole) that nothing else compares. I was saved for a reason and that reason is to glorify God (as He enables) in every way that He is scripturally declared to be glorified in us and through us — but again, this is all and only in light of that ultimate glory that He has in Christ Jesus (in His Person and in His finished work of redemption — and the salvation of His people that flows from it). So manifest salvation is not only about preaching the cross (as vitally important as that is); it isn’t just about repeating the same rote phrases concerning it, and battling every heretick that comes our way opposing it. Salvation is about living in light of it so thoroughly, so thankfully and prayerfully, that we (by God’s grace, purpose, and might) are conformed to His word, transformed by it, and made more and more (manifestly) like unto the Lord Jesus Christ, despite our numerous falls [“[f]or a just [man] falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Proverbs 24:16)]. We are to strive to walk as He walked, despite our very clear imperfections and natural inabilities. May He gives us grace upon grace to do so.
And with this, I aim to move on to other matters (Christology, Soteriology, and other core biblical subjects). The truth of our relationship to God’s law is a needful one, but I have said much already, and I believe anything more (especially for my own person) will be counter-productive at this time. i love the blessed milk, the spiritual milk… I really do. However, I’m just at the point in my life, walk, hungerings and thirstings, and in my felt spiritual need, wherein I desire the strong meat as well. I want to grow and be grown… I do not want to be content merely having a bottle in my mouth decades into my profession. I hope to post more of my favourite milk and meat sermons, bible studies, etc. soon. I hope they edify you as they have edified me. Finally, please forgive any spelling/grammar errors; I am so ready to end this chapter of discussion for a while that I’m really not even going to proofread this, not even adding tags.
To God be the glory, really, and truly, not just in word, but in the walk that He ordained for us to walk; in the new heart/mind/spirit He has given us; and by the grace He works out in us through The Lord Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit.