The Necessity of Obedience for Salvation



Obeying the Mosaic Law will not save us but making Jesus Lord will.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– {9} not by works, so that no one can boast.

Lordship advocates argue that Paul is teaching that obeying the Mosaic law will not save us. However, true faith necessitates making Jesus Lord of our lives. This is not works as described by Eph 2:8-9 because making Jesus Lord is the work of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, {13} for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Paul is talking about the Mosaic law but the point made is not that obeying the Mosaic law will not save you but making Him master of our life will. Nowhere in the Bible can this teaching be found. Paul emphasises that salvation is by grace. Grace is something we do not deserve. If we are saved only by Making Jesus master of our life, surely we are not totally undeserving of salvation. He then says that this is not from ourselves and certainly not of works. Obeying Jesus and making Him master of our life indeed requires work. Finally, salvation is a gift. If we have to do something as difficult as making Him Master of our life, then it is wages and not gift.

Romans 4:4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.

Also if salvation hinges on our success to make Jesus Master of our life, surely there are grounds for boasting.

What 1 Cor 12:3 is referring to is simply the Holy Spirit helping us to confess that Jesus is the Sovereign God.

We have to work for our salvation.

The bible affirms the truth that obeying the law is irrelevant to salvation. We need a righteousness apart from the law to be saved; one that comes by believing in Jesus Christ.

Rom 3:20­22 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (NIV)

Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.(NIV)

Phil 3:9 and be found in him, not having righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (NIV)

Eph 2:8­9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (NIV)

Rom 4:4­5 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (NIV)

Since these verses clearly teach that we are not to work for our salvation, The Bible warns against those who try to rely on their obedience in the law to gain salvation.

Gal 3:2­3 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (NIV)

Righteousness is never gained by obeying God’s laws but rather through faith because no one can keep all of God’s laws. The bible teaches that whoever fails in one point of the law is guilty of all of it (Jas 2:10). A person might appear pious to men but compared to God our righteousness are like filthy rags.

Rom 3:10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; (NIV)

Isa 64:6 For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousness are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (NIV)

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, {13} for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

This verse has been interpreted by some people to mean that we are to work for our salvation. However, if this is what Paul meant, then he is contradicting himself when he says that we are not to work for our salvation. We must therefore conclude that Phil 2:12 is referring to salvation from something else and not from the penalty of sin. It is noted that the Bible, when talking about salvation, does not refer only to salvation from the penalty of sin.

Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of things not seen yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…

In this verse, the word “saving”, which is the same Greek word translated “salvation” in Phil 2:12, refers to salvation of Noah’s family from physical death.

Phil 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

This verse talks about the church’s prayer for Paul’s salvation (or deliverance) from prison.

Likewise in the following verse, salvation refers to salvation from adversity and not salvation in the sense of eternal life.

“The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” – Lam.3:25-26

But if Paul is not referring to salvation from the penalty of sin in Phil 2:12, what is he referring to? I suggest that we look into the context of the verse to find the answer. The second chapter of Philippians talks about pride leading to strife in the church. Paul admonishes the Philippian church to seek salvation or deliverance from that. We know this because of the use of the word “therefore” in verse 12. Whenever the word “therefore” is used, the author is referring to something that is mentioned before that verse. So in verse 12 Paul is asking the Philippians to work out their salvation from pride and strife and to do so with fear and trembling (in other words with reverence and awe as some translations render) because God is actually the one who is working inside you. 

Lk 13:23-24 23 And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (ASV)

Lordship advocates teach that the Greek word for “strive” is agonizomai, implying an agonizing, intense and purposeful struggle. It is the same word used in 1 Cor 9:25 of an athlete battling to win a victory and in Col 4:12 of Epaphras labouring fervently. This goes to prove that we must work hard for our salvation.

While I agree that we must “strive” for our salvation, this has nothing to do with doing good works or even doing God’s work. The Bible is clear that salvation is a gift which cannot be earned by works. But why is there a struggle if there is no work? Striving doesn’t always have to refer to obeying God’s laws. Lets look at the other occurrences of the word agonizomai. We can see that keeping the faith alone is a struggle.

1 Tim 6:12 Fight (Greek agonizomai) the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (NIV)

2 Tim 4:7 I have fought (Greek agonizomai) the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (NIV)

We see that believing in the right thing itself is a struggle, especially if everyone else believes differently. Believing in Christianity is especially a struggle because it goes contrary to the popular and somewhat more natural belief that we can be saved through good works and all religions lead to God. Christianity, on the other hand, demands only simple faith but stresses that salvation can be found in no other man (Jn 10:9, Jn 14:6, Acts 4:12).

Parable of the talents

(Mat 25:14-30 NIV)  “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. {15} To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. {16} The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. {17} So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. {18} But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. {19} “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. {20} The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ {21} “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ {22} “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ {23} “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ {24} “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. {25} So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ {26} “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? {27} Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. {28} “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. {29} For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. {30} And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The lazy servant was thrown into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This refers to being thrown in hell as can be seen from other teachings of Jesus that also talk about this place.

(Mat 8:12 NIV)  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

(Mat 13:41-42 NIV)  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. {42} They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Mat 22:13 NIV)  “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

(Mat 24:51 NIV)  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Do all three servants refer to Christians? If we conclude that all three servants refer to Jesus, we must also come to the conclusion that the third Christian lost his salvation because he did not work for his salvation.

I don’t think the third servant is a Christian. Sometimes Jesus used the analogy of the servant to refer to unbelievers as can be seen in this next parable.

(Luke 12:42-46 NIV)  The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? {43} It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. {44} I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. {45} But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. {46} The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

The totally fruitless life is not associated with a Christian. This can be seen from the teaching on the parable of the soil. When a seed falls onto good soil, it will definitely bear fruit. Some will bear a lot; others will bear a little. But no one will have zero fruit.

(Mat 13:3-8 NIV)  Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. {4} As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. {5} Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. {6} But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. {7} Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. {8} Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

The parable of the talents does not teach that a Christian who does not produce enough fruits will be thrown in hell. A Christian who does not serve God will not forfeit his salvation although he will suffer great loss in another sense. The Bible teaches that a Christian’s life will be tested. Only what is done for God will last for eternity. All else will mean nothing for eternity.

(1 Cor 3:11-15 NIV)  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. {12} If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, {13} his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. {14} If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. {15} If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Obedience to God is necessary for salvation.

Rom 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (NIV)

The way this verse was translated in some versions present a problem. It seem to teach that eternal life is the result of a holy life. However one only needs to look at other versions to see that this may not be what Paul intended to teach.

Rom 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. (KJV)

In other words, the benefit of submitting to God in this life is a holy life. The end of everything is salvation. (See 1 Pet 1:9)

Rom 6:14-16  For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Does this verse teach that we need to obey God and do whatever He commands before we are considered righteous by God? If this is what it teaches, it surely contradicts verses like.

Rom 4:4­-5 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (NIV)

Phil 3:9 and be found in him, not having righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (NIV) 

No, the obedience here refers to obeying God’s call for us to believe in Him. If you hear the command “Believe in the Lord and you will be saved” and you believe, you are also obeying God’s commands. This faith, which causes you to believe in God, is what God sees when he credits righteousness to you.

Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Sowing to please the Spirit does not mean doing good things. We please the Spirit when we have faith and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.

​1 Cor 12:3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,”except by the Holy Spirit.

Matt 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

This verse does not teach that if we are more righteous than the Pharisees through our own effort in obeying God’s commands we will be saved. We need the righteousness and not our own righteousness in order to be saved. This righteousness is found only by relying on God to save us (Phil 3:9).

Luke 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himselfand prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Deut 6:25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”

Some bring up the verse above to show that the Israelites’ obedience of the law is counted as righteousness before God. Whatever good things we do, they would be considered righteous acts by God. For example…

Deut 24:12-13 If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession. 13 Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbor may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God.

God acknowledges that these are all righteous acts but this is not the type of righteousness that saves us. We can only be saved by 100% righteousness. Either we are totally sinless and we obey God 100% OR we are inputed with the righteousness of Christ that comes by faith. Paul below says that he is praying for Jews who are not saved because they rely on the wrong type of righteousness, their own.

Rom 10:1-4 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Lk 15:11-32 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 `Your brother has come,’ he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.29 But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “`My son,’ the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'” (NIV)

Lordship advocates point out that the prodigal son was saved because of his unqualified compliance to do whatever his father asked of him. This is evident from verse 19 when he was willing to be his father’s servant.

I agree with Lordship advocates that this parable is talking about a sinner coming to know God and not a believer who is saved but has lost his fellowship with God. This is evident from the context of the parable which is found in verses 1 & 2. Jesus told these three parables–the lost sheep, coin and son–to tell the Pharisees that God is not avoiding the sinners that they so dissociated themselves with. Instead, the whole of heaven rejoices over one unsaved sinner who repents. However, I disagree with the notion that it is the sinner’s unqualified compliance to God’s will that saves him. It is true that the prodigal son is willing to be his father’s servant but we see in verse 21 that he had barely enough time to complete what he rehearsed in verse 19 before the father ordered the servants to prepare for a celebration. You see, the father is not interested in whether his son is willing to be his servant or not. He had no intention of insisting that he did. All that was important for the father was that the son came back to him. His son was saved because he went back to his father, not because he was willing to be his father’s servant. And why did the son go back to the father? Because he knows that he can never make it on his own. That is the requirement of salvation! To realise that we are helpless without God and not the fact that we are willing to be God’s servant.

Luke 10:25­28 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, `Love your neighbour as yourself.'” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (NIV)

When the lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, why did Jesus ask him to obey the law? We must recognise that this man had the same problem as the Pharisees who did not recognise that they are sinners. They were self-righteous and thought that obeying the law would get them into heaven. This is obvious from the lawyer’s question. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? This question itself contains a contradiction. What does anyone do to inherit? Why, nothing! An inheritance is something someone else has earned and given to us as a gift. It is based on relationship, not performance. Jesus responded to the lawyer’s question with another question. What do you think you have to do to inherit eternal life? The man responded with a summary of God’s commandments. Jesus said,”Do this and you will live.” But this of course is the problem. Do all of this! If you rely on the law to be saved, you have to be perfect in compliance. Whoever breaks just one point of the law shall be guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). Therefore Jesus is telling the man, “Try and do all this and when you realise that you cannot possibly do all things that are required by law, then perhaps you will realise your sins and understand that eternal life cannot be based on human accomplishments”.

The incident of Jesus with the rich young ruler teaches the same thing.

Luke 18:18­23 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good­­ except God alone.20 You know the commandments:`Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.'” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. (NIV)

The reason Jesus told the young ruler to keep the commandments when the young ruler asked about what he must do to inherit eternal life can be found in verse 21; the young ruler did not realize that he is a sinner. Jesus wanted to prove to him that even he is not without sin.”You still lack one thing”, Jesus said in verse 22. He has in fact broken the most important commandment of all, that is loving God with all his heart, soul and might (Deut 6:5). That was why Jesus asked him to sell all he has, give it to the poor and follow Him. When he could not do that, clearly Jesus has succeeded in proving that even he is not without sin.

Mt 7:21­23 21 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'(NIV)

These verses have been understood by some people to refer to Christians who lost their salvation because they did not practice God’s teachings in their lives. This interpretation is not correct. Now if these people had been genuine Christians at one time and had subsequently lost their salvation through disobedience, Jesus could not have used the word “never”. He would have to say, ” I once knew you but now I don’t.” But He did not say that.

Matt 7:21-23 refer to people who profess to have a relationship with Jesus. They will call him “Lord” in the Day of Judgment and have even performed good works during their lifetime but have never attained salvation through the way taught by Jesus. Notice that Jesus did not deny that they had done their good works; He denied that He ever knew them. He only recognizes those that attained salvation by doing the Father’s will.

What does Jesus mean when he says that we have to do God’s will to enter heaven. I believe Jesus was talking about true faith. The Bible equates faith with work or obedience.

Jn 6:27-29 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV)

(John 6:40 NIV)  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Clarification

The word “work” here which refers to believe and is essential for salvation is not the same as the “works” in Eph 2:8-9 which is not required for salvation. Obviously, the second usage does not refer to the “work” of believing because the verse earlier states that salvation is by faith. Also works is excluded in Eph 2:9 so that no one can boast. Therefore, this has to refer to good works.

Note that preaching, prophesying, casting out demons, and doing miracles are not proofs of salvation. God can and often does work through unsaved people. He used Balaam (Num 23:5) and even Balaam’s ass. Another example would be Caiaphas the evil high priest who prophesied Christ death for all people (Jn 11:51-52).

Compare Mt 7:21-23 with the following verse.

Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (NIV)

Note: Prayer must not be viewed as a condition for salvation. The call refers to an appeal to God for our salvation.

Why is it that in this case whoever calls on the Lord will be saved. I believe that this verse is talking about people who really believed when they call upon the Lord and not just performing lip service.

Heb 12:14-15 14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God…(NIV)

This verse is talking about holiness in our daily life and not our position in Christ since we are asked to strive for it. However, the term “see (Greek “optomai”) the Lord” need not refer to salvation. I believe it refers to having fellowship with God. We cannot have any fellowship with God if we live in sin.

1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

In the book of Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned, they could not behold God and went to hide. The fellowship with God was broken. It was only when they had confessed their sins that the fellowship was restored. A similar verse to Heb 12:14 is:

Matt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

This verse encourages us strive for holiness, without which no one will see God. We have earlier seen that the holiness we need to reach God is not our own. Our righteousness is like filthy rags. We are therefore to strive for Christ’s holiness. But why are we to strive for holiness if we have already attained it through faith? When we believe, we are considered righteous but our daily practice needs changing.

Another question we may ask is: If this holiness refers to Christ’s perfect holiness, why then does God ask that we strive for something which is impossible to attain? It is not true that all of God’s standards are within reach. Sometimes He gives us a perfect standard, not demanding that we attain it but expecting us to strive for it.

Mt 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 Pet 1:15-16 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

We have to make Jesus our “Lord” to be saved.

Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”(NIV)

Rom 10:9­10 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)

Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved­­ you and your household.” (NIV)

Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The word “Lord” (Greek “Kyrios”) is used more than 6000 times in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) to translate the name of Jehovah. It is clear therefore that the word Lord simply mean “Jehovah” or “God” and not “master of my life”.

Peter illustrated this truth one day on the rooftop when the Lord asked him to kill and eat unclean animals. Peter replied “By no means, Lord” (Acts 10:14). At that point of time, what did the word “Lord” mean? Surely, it cannot mean Master of my life since Peter is disobeying God in the same breath. We must conclude that Peter used the term “Lord” to mean “God”.

Lordship advocates, however, rightfully argue that at times the word “Lord” do not mean just “God”; it can mean specifically “sovereign God”. We see in the case of Acts 2:36, for example, that the word “Lord” conveys God’s sovereignty rather than deity. In other words, God the Father did not make His Son God; He made His Son sovereign over all His enemies. Another example is Jn 20:28. Surely Thomas is not saying to Jesus, “My God and my God”. While it may be true that “Lord” implies sovereignty, it is an entirely different thing to be sovereign God and to be master of our life. Jesus is sovereign God not only of the believers but also of unbelievers.

Acts 10:36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. (NIV)

Phil 2:10­11 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

The last verse tells us that God will someday make everyone on earth, in heaven, as well as those in hell admit that Jesus is “Lord”. Surely the word “Lord” here refers to “sovereign God” and not “master of my life” as those in hell will not be able to declare that Jesus is the Master of their lives.

Acts 2:36 therefore simply says that Jesus is both Saviour and Sovereign God. Notice it does not say that a person must submit to Jesus’ sovereignty in his life before he can be saved. John 20:28 is a statement by Thomas of Jesus’ deity as well as his sovereignty (probably over death) as Thomas finally believed.

It can also be seen that Paul, when using the word “Lord” of Jesus in Rom 10:9­10, is simply ascribing deity to Him. In other words, Paul is using the word “Lord” to mean “God” and not to mean “master of my life”. Notice that it is the mere confession of the mouth that Jesus is Lord. Clearly it is not talking about a lifetime commitment to Jesus as master.

If we read Acts 16:31 carefully, we can also see that the verse is a simple command to believe and the object of belief is the Lord Jesus. In other words, the word “Lord” is merely a description of Jesus and does not in any way affect the simple command to believe. For example, if we say, “We must believe in President Clinton.”, are we saying that, “We must believe in Clinton and because he is the President, we must submit entirely to his authority.”? Yet this is precisely how Lordship advocates would have us interpret the verse. Similarly Acts 2:21 is simply a command to call upon Jesus who is Lord. It is not a command to make Jesus Lord in the sense of making Him the Master of our life.

If making Jesus Master of our lives is essential for salvation, then no Christian can be sure of his salvation. Can anyone claim that at any time he has every area of his life under the control of Christ? Therefore when the Bible says that we must make Christ “Lord”, it is simply saying we must acknowledge Jesus as Sovereign God.

Lk 6:46-49 46 “Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (NIV)

The fact that this verse is talking about salvation is clear from the analogy that follow. Jesus describes two houses–one that will stand the storm and the other that will be destroyed. Verse 47 says that only those who do what Jesus says will be saved. This “putting into practice” or “doing of what He says” as some versions render is talking about building our house on the rock as can be seen from verse 48 (the rock is Christ–1 Cor 3:11) instead of something else (ie sand). We must not rely on any other thing for our salvation.

We have to give up everything to be saved

Mt 13:44-46 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (NIV)

According to Lordship advocates, these two parables teach that a sinner who understands the priceless treasure of heaven will gladly give up everything he has to possess it. It is also clear that the sinner cannot possess the treasure till he has given up everything he has for it.

This interpretation is not correct. Christ–not the sinner–is the one who sells all to buy the precious treasure and pearl. The fact that Jesus and not the sinner is the subject of these two parables is clear if we examine the whole string of parables that our Lord taught in Matthew 13. In the parable of the sower and weeds, Jesus is the sower. In the parable of the mustard seed and yeast, Jesus is the man who planted the seed and the woman who mixes the dough. It is a more natural flow that Jesus is also the subject of the two parables that follow–the parable of the hidden treasure and pearl. Our Lord is the buyer at an awful cost. Christ emptied Himself in order to save us and shed His blood in order to save us.

1 Pet 1:18-19 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (NIV)

Salvation is a gift. What sort of gift would it be if the sinner has to sell everything he has to buy it. Or does the sinner have anything at all that is worthy of heaven. The Bible say that our righteousness are like filthy rags in the eyes of God (Isa 64:6). Can we trade in a righteous life which are like filthy rags for a priceless treasure? The Bible is clear that no amount is sufficient to redeem a person.

Ps 49:7-9 7 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him– 8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough– 9 that he should live on forever and not see decay. (NIV)

Unfruitful Christians will be cast out.

Jn 15:1-10  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (Greek, kathairo) so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already (Greek, katharos) clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.(NIV)

There are many who understood these verses to mean that Christians who are unfruitful will not be saved. However, this passage does not teach that an unfruitful Christian will lose his salvation. The Bible is quite clear that an unfruitful Christian will only lose his rewards in heaven, even though he himself will be saved. Consider the following verses.

1 Cor 3:10­15 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (NIV)

Since the above verses clearly teach that an unfruitful Christian will only lose his rewards and not his salvation, what is Jn 15:1-6 teaching about? I believe that they are referring to people who have fallen out of the faith. Verse 2 says that branches that bear no fruit will be cut off. Why are these branches unfruitful? Because they did not remain in Jesus (verse 4). Verse 6 repeats the fact that branches are cut off because they did not remain in Jesus. So the crux of the issue is really remaining in Jesus. What does it mean to remain in Jesus? We can easily discover this by referring to another verse in the Bible that John has written.

1 Jn 2:22-24 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist– he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. (NIV)

We see from verse 24 that remaining in Jesus means continuing to believe in Him. Therefore, those branches that were cut off are actually those who lost their faith in Jesus. John 15:7 also teaches the same thing when Jesus equates remaining in Him with His words remaining in us.

We can come to the same conclusion by analysing in another way. Jn 15:1-6 teaches us that God will prune every branch that bears fruit (verse 2). In verse 3, Jesus says that the disciples are already “clean” because of His words. Now the word “clean” in verse 3 actually come from the same root word “prune” in verse 2. Therefore, Jesus is saying that branches are clean or pruned because they are fruitful or because they believed in His word. Actually, they are the same. The Bible teaches that real believers will definitely be fruitful. Verse 8 reiterates this and say that if we bear much fruit we will be showing that we are His disciples.

1 Jn 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (NIV)

1 Jn 2:3­5 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: (NIV)

Mt 7:17­18 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (NIV)

Mt 13:8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop– a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (NIV)

You see, believers will definitely bear fruit. The only question is how much.

Rom 11:17-23 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (NIV)

Here we have a confirmation that branches are actually grafted in or out depending on their faith.

Mt 3:7-10 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance: 9 and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And even now the axe lieth at the root of the trees: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Again these verses talk about unbelievers, not believers who are unfruitful. Specifically, the passage talks about the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to John the Baptist for baptism. John refused to baptize them because he knew that they have not repented (or changed their minds about how one can attain salvation). Notice in verse 9 that John rebukes them for thinking that they are saved just because they are Abraham’s descendants. John insists in verse 8 that they show evidences of their repentance through their life first before he would baptize them. This is not to say that John is preaching a message of salvation by a fruitful life. The whole thrust of John’s message has always been repentance as in changing our mind about God (verse 2). John, however, reinforce the clear biblical teaching that salvation is always accompanied by a fruitful life, no matter what degree.

Mt 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

This verse also refers to people who are not saved. The story starts from Mt 21:18-19 when Jesus, expecting to find fruits in a fig tree, found none. He then cursed the tree and it withered. Later He told a parable in Mt 21:33-41 about the evil tenants, referring to Israel. God sent His prophets to warn Israel and finally even His own Son but they did not heed to God’s call. Therefore Jesus said in verse 43 that “The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you (meaning Israel), and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (meaning the Gentile believers). Again believers are referred to as people who bear fruits because fruitfulness is a definite consequence of salvation.

Mt 13:18-23 18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (NIV)

Some people believe that fell among thorns describe people who lose their salvation because the are not fruitful. I believe that it refers to people who hear the word but did not believe because they were too distracted by the things of the world. It is easy for the rich to be so preoccupied with their wealth that they don’t have time for God. Even Jesus said that it is difficult for a rich man to be saved (Mt 19:23).

Only those that are victorious will be saved

Rev 2:7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious (Greek “nikao”), I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Rev 2:11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious (Greek “nikao”) will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Rev 3:5 The one who is victorious (Greek “nikao”) will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

Does being victorious mean that we need to be able to obey God’s commandments for our life and if we don’t do so we are not saved? Since John is the author of revelation, we should see what he meant by the word “victorious”. It is the greek word “nikao” which is also found in the following letter of John.

1 John 5:4-5 4 for everyone born of God overcomes (Greek “nikao”) the world. This is the victory (Greek “nike”, noun of “nikao”) that has overcome (Greek “nikao”) the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes (Greek “nikao”) the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

It is particularly relevant during the last days that the church of God overcomes and stay true to the faith because Jesus taught that many will be deceived and lose their faith during the last days.

Matt 24:3-13 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm  (Greek “nikao”) to the end will be saved.

There are other warnings in the book of revelation that some have interpreted to mean loss of salvation.

Rev 2:5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Being removed from the lampstand is not an indication of the loss of salvation. Jesus taught that we are the light of the world and this light should not be hidden but placed on a lampstand so that it can shine with maximum impact. To be removed from the lampstand is therefore an expression to mean that God will remove us from the position of being able to be influential in this world for His glory.

Matt 5:14-16  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Rev 3:14-18 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

This passage describes a church that is lukewarm. The reason why they are lukewarm is given in verse 17. They are well-to-do and think that they don’t need to depend on God. But actually they have great need as they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. The expression “spit you out of my mouth” according to the bible commentators is a strong expression of disgust to the extent it makes one vomit. It is not teaching that these people will lose their salvation. God prefers Christians who are hot (living their lives right before God) or cold (knowing that they are not living their lives right and needing repentance) but this church falls into the middle.

Rev 22:18-19  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

This verse refers to unbelievers who do not believe in the word of God. In the context of this passage, they would be the same group of people that were describe just a few verses before.

Rev 22:14-15 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

God will not love us if we do not obey His commandments

John 15:10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Does that mean that God’s love is conditional upon our obeying His commandments? 

I believe the Bible has already told us that God’s love is unconditional upon our obedience. That means God also loves sinners.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God doesn’t love sinners less than He loves people who obey Him. Because this demonstration of love – the act of dying for someone – is the greatest love that one can have for another.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Yet there are certain verses in the Bible that seem to make God’s love conditional upon our obedience. I believe these verses are talking about the experience of God’s love and God’s specific actions/blessings that are conditional upon our obedience. The Bible is clear that while God still love sinners, His special blessings go out to people who obey His commands and those who sin do not experience God’s love. They have not lost God’s love; they just don’t experience it. It is like King David who said in Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation. King David knew he always had God’s salvation but unrepentant sin prevented him from experiencing the joy of that salvation. Likewise the rebellious son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son always had his father’s love. Yet he did not experience or enjoy any of that love when he was away from his father in rebellion.

In the same way, we will find a set of verses in the Bible that tell us that in order to experience God’s love or His special actions/blessings we need to obey His commandments.

John 15:10 is one such verse. Our joy will be complete only when we live in obedience to God. Below are other examples.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

This is also true in the opposite direction. If we say we love God, we are also asked to demonstrate that with specific ations.

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

Those who keep the Law will be saved

Rom 2:17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Some people interpret verse 26 to say that those who keep the law’s requirements will be regarded as circumcised. In other words, they will be saved. However, the reading of the entire passage tells us that neither being a Jew by race or being physically circumcised will save us. Verses 28 and 29 tell us that it is not the Jews by race that are saved but the ones who are Jews inwardly (i.e. they have a true relationship with the God of the Jews). And it is not those that are physically circumcised that are saved, but those that have their hearts circumcised. There are verses in the Bible that talk about the relationship between physical circumcision and salvation.

Phil 3:3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—

Col 2:11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Gal 5:15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. (cf 2 John 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!)

Therefore, verse 26 cannot be saying that those Gentiles who observe the law are saved since they are regarded as being circumcised. What Paul is trying to say is that physical circumcision has even less value than keeping the moral law of God. In verse 25 Paul says that physical circumcision is of no value to these Jews because they break many other aspects of the law. Secondly, if the Gentiles, who are uncircumcised, keep the moral standards of the law, they are even better off than the Jews in this passage who are circumcised and, yet break the law (v. 26 and 27)

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