We Are not Saved by Good Works, But For The Purpose of Good Works

Saved by Good Works or For the Purpose of Good Works?

Most Protestants have the correct understanding that a person’s good works will not save them, or get them to heaven. The phrase, “not saved by good works,” has rightfully become one of the rallying truths of the Protestant movement. But, I have personally heard many a Protestant present the gospel to an unbeliever by stating that salvation has nothing to do with good works. I have heard many a Protestant teacher disparage and diminish the importance of what people do in reference to their relationship with God. They say that we are not on a performance basis with God. I have heard many, many Protestant teachers promote their understanding of imputed righteousness to the point of flat out saying, “you can do whatever you please because God’s imputed righteousness through Christ saves you no matter what you do.” In fact, many Protestants believe that for those in Christ, God does not even see what they do; He only sees Jesus. Many modern day Protestants are now even teaching that a person does not have to repent of their known sin in order to come to Christ. Modern day Protestantism, theologically speaking, has completely divorced salvation from what we do on this earth.

These Protestant teachings and this modern day Protestant emphasis that diminish the importance of what the Christian does on this earth, have had a devastating impact on the western church (consider Luke 6:46-49). Correspondingly, these teachings are even contributing to the demise and moral collapse of western civilization. In the ensuing paragraphs, I want to prove through the Scriptures that these incomplete and misleading teachings could not be further from the truth.

As the title for this article states, we are not saved BY good works, but we are saved FOR good works; we are saved FOR THE PURPOSE OF good works. The following are a few of an ocean of New Testament scriptures that make this very point:

Ephesians 2:9-10-9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Titus 2:11-14-11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, ZEALOUS FOR GOOD WORKS.

James 2:14-20-14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food; 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things that are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe– and tremble. 20 But do you want to know, o foolish man, that faith without works is dead.

Romans 6:18-18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15-14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus, that if one died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, THAT those who live should no longer live for themselves, but FOR Him, who died for them and rose again.

Galatians 5:22-23-22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (WE receive the Holy Spirit into our lives by grace through faith (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:5;etc.). Yet the Holy Spirit is all about right living. Thus we did not receive the Holy Spirit by good works, yet once He is in our hearts, He is all about good works! Thus, we are saved into a life of good works by the leading and help of the Holy Spirit; consider Romans 14:17).

1 Peter 2:24-25-24 who Himself bore our sins in His own BODY on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (The bread of Communion represents the body of Christ mentioned in this Scripture. Thus, judging from this scripture, at least part of the meaning of the bread of Communion is deliverance from sins so that we can live righteously).

Romans 6:3-5-3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also SHOULD WALK in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.

Thus, the meaning of Baptism, itself, which is for new believers, clearly shows that the new believer publically COMMITS TO and BELIEVES that God through Christ is going to change his life. The new believer has some kind of expectation that by the grace that is in Jesus Christ, the old ways and life will be done away with. He also expects that, as God raised Jesus from the dead, so he will somehow WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE (Romans 6:4). The apostle Paul is saying in Romans 6 that the reason we don’t continue in sin is because we have already committed ourselves to and have believed that God is going to change us and our way of living; and our Baptism symbolized this. We came to Christ with the expectation that God in Christ will change us and help us follow Christ. We came to Christ with a willingness to cooperate with God in this ongoing, transformation miracle. We also have forgiveness in Christ to clear our history of sin so that we can have a clear conscience towards God.

Obviously, dunking someone in water won’t save them; but the meaning of Baptism will radically change a person who believes in, and is committed to this meaning. God will wonderfully honor such faith.

Along with the above mentioned understanding, the new believer has the hope of eternal life. He has the expectation that he will be with God in heaven when he dies. He will also be perfected when he dies (Hebrews 12:23; 1 John 3:2; Daniel 12:2-3; Philippians 3:12-15; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15-16; etc.).What was started on earth will be finished in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14).

From a negative perspective of the works issue, let’s consider the following scriptures. These scriptures might be hard to stomach for some, but we must consider the whole counsel of scripture, not just our favorite verses.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11-9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Galatians 5:19-21-19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I told you in times past, that those who PRACTICE such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

These are just two of many, many New Testament scriptures that say or imply the following: Those who PRACTICE known sin, and will not repent; such will not go to heaven. A person can repent and ask Jesus to forgive them at the very end of their life; that person will be forgiven. Often though, they can’t call out to the Lord and find repentance when they have so committed themselves to evil. Often, death comes unexpectedly and quickly.

Regarding the fact that right living (righteousness) is the primary proof of one’s salvation, consider the following TWENTY-FIVE New Testament scriptures: Ephesians 5:5-6; Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 13:24-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; James 2:14-26; 1 John 2:4-6; 1 John 3:5-10 (referring to practicing or not practicing righteousness); Titus 2:11-15; 1 Timothy 3:13; Titus 3:4-7; Revelations 19:7-8; Matthew 25:31-46; Hebrews 10:26-31; Hebrews 6:4-6; Revelations 21:8; 11 Peter 1:10; John 5:28-29; Romans 2:6-10; Revelations 21:7-8; Mark 9:41-48; Matthew 13:40-43; Matthew 13:49-50; Matthew 24:48-51; Mark 3:31-35; AND MORE!

Some modern day Protestants believe that God doesn’t consider or see what Christians do because they are in Christ. Because of their imputed righteousness in Christ, God only sees Jesus when He looks at the believer. However one interprets the doctrine of imputed righteousness, the scriptures clearly state that God sees everything that the believer and unbeliever do. Consider some of the ocean of New Testament scriptures that make or imply this point:

Revelation 2:2-4-2 “I KNOW YOUR WORKS, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say that they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

(To each of the seven churches in the book of Revelation (chapters 2 and 3), Jesus tells them that He KNOWS THEIR WORKS! In Revelations 3:21 Jesus speaks to him who overcomes, which shows the reader that Jesus is paying attention to the churches and the individuals within the churches. Jesus is noting the good and the bad.)

2 Corinthians 5:9-11-9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the TERROR OF THE LORD, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I trust are well known in your consciences.

(The teaching that says that God doesn’t see what we are doing is wiping out the fear of God in people’s lives. Knowing that he will be accountable for his behavior put not only the fear of God in Paul, it put the terror of the Lord in Paul. The fear of God is a precious gift of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-3).)

Philippians 4:17-18-17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. (Their financial gift was noticed by God, and well pleasing to God.)

Hebrews 6:10-10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Philippians 2:12-13-12 Therefore, my beloved, as you 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 who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Notice the “fear and trembling.” The doctrine that says that God doesn’t see what you do when you are in Christ, diminishes the fear of God in the believers’ lives.Also note 2 Corinthians 7:1 regarding “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.”Also, this is one of the scriptures that uses the word, “salvation,” in the context of life style. We are saved into this lifestyle, or we are saved for this lifestyle.)

Romans 8:9-9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Romans 8:14-14 For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (The Holy Spirit is part of the salvation picture and message (Acts 2:38); and He is all about good works.)

Some Protestants state or imply that the Christian can never do anything to please God. They say that all of our deeds are as filthy rags. Of course the unbeliever can never do a work pleasing to God, but the believer is supposed to be doing works fully pleasing to God. The believer’s works originating from God’s Spirit and with the help of the Spirit, are supposed to please God. These works are the greatest evidence of the believer’s salvation. These works are the fruit of the believer’s salvation.Jesus said that you will know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:20). The fruit of the Spirit is such good works (Galatians 5:22-23). Also, such good works are what give glory to God (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 1:11). Consider some more scriptures that allude to God seeing and wanting to see good works come from His children.These are just a few of the many New Testament scriptures that make these points.

Colossians 1:9-10-9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 that you may WALK worthy of the Lord, FULLY PLEASING HIM, being fruitful in every GOOD WORK and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 3:22-25-22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

Philippians 1:9-11-9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Christ Jesus, to the glory and praise of God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13-12 And may the LORD MAKE YOU INCREASE and abound IN LOVE TO ONE ANOTHER, and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

1 John 3:7-10-7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God. 10 In this the children of God and the children of devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (Practicing righteousness and practicing sin are what demonstrate who a person is. This is not about making a mistake here or there and asking God to forgive you; this is about practicing a sin continuously. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:21; Matthew 7:21-23; and many more.)

1 Corinthians 3:11-15- 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (If He doesn’t see what you are doing how will He give out rewards in heaven. Also, this scripture teaches that a person can miss it and still be saved, as through fire on that Day.)

Philippians 4:18-18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

2 Corinthians 5:9-9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

By denigrating and diminishing the importance of such good works, modern-day Protestants are destroying the western church and even western civilization. The believers get lazy and indifferent to their behavior on this earth. The believers cease to be lights to the world (Matthew 5:14-16). The Protestant seminaries and Bible schools that disseminate these incomplete and false teachings are significantly contributing to our downfall. They are the problem and not the solution. Not only that, but their students pay huge tuitions to become trained as teachers of partial truths; and they become a problem to us all. The evangelists and teachers that tell their audiences that salvation has nothing to do with good works, are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Consider the following statement by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as he wrote in pre-World War 2 Germany.Bonhoeffer was later martyred for his faith and moral stands. Germany and the German Lutherans with their partial gospel descended into hell on earth because few true believers were left in Germany to be any kind of force to hold back the forces of hell;nor could they shed enough light on the deceptions of hell. Bonhoeffer wrote:

“We Lutherans have gathered like the eagles around the carcass of cheap grace, and there we have drunk of the poison which has KILLED THE LIFE OF FOLLOWING CHRIST. It is true, of course, that we have paid the doctrine of pure grace divine honours unparalleled in Christendom; in fact we have exalted that doctrine to the position of God himself. Everywhere Luther’s formula has been repeated, but its truth (has been) perverted into self-deception. . . by making this grace available on the cheapest and easiest terms. To be “Lutheran” must mean that we must leave the following Christ to legalists, Calvinists and enthusiasts – and all this for the sake of grace. We justified the world, and condemned as heretics those who tried to follow Christ. The result was that a nation became Christian and Lutheran, but at the cost of true discipleship. The price it was called upon to pay was all too cheap. Cheap grace had won the day.” { p. 53} (“The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

As a new believer witnessing to people, I was taught to use a special test to discern if a person was saved or not. We were taught to give people the following test: “If you were to die and go before God in heaven, and if He were to ask you why He should let you into His kingdom; what would you say to Him?” Many people would answer with a response like the following, “Well, I was a good person and therefore I think God would let me in.” This answer was not and is not a good answer. We were looking for the following answer, “I trust Jesus Christ to forgive me my sins through His death on the cross.” This was and is more to what we were looking for.

This test, although it has some good points to it, plays into the entire, modern day, Protestant mind set. The reality is that in the above hypothetical situation, Jesus would probably say to that person coming before Him, “You don’t enter the Kingdom of God up here. You enter the Kingdom of God while you are on the earth and while you are in your body. If you are in the Kingdom of God on the earth, then when you die, you will stay in the Kingdom of God. If you are not in the Kingdom of God on the earth when you die, you will not be in the Kingdom in the after life.” (A person can repent and trust Christ to forgive them at the very last second. God will honor their repentance and faith.) The person in the hypothetical example, might then say to Him, “Well, I’m ready to enter the Kingdom of God now.” Jesus would respond, “It’s too late to enter the kingdom after you die.”

This is more than just a word game here. Many Protestants have this “ticket to Heaven” mentality. They live basically for themselves and in sin (Within reason, of course, for heavens sakes let’s try to stay out of jail.) throughout their lives; then they expect to show Jesus their ticket to heaven after they die. They expect to tell Jesus that they believed in Him.

Matthew 7:21-23-21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the WILL OF MY FATHER in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!’ “

(Look at this scripture in the light of Baptism. The new believer is committing to and expecting to come out of PRACTICING LAWLESSNESS through Christ’s death, so that he can be raised up with Christ to do the WILL OF THE FATHER (Romans 6:4).)

The reality is that when you come to Christ, you enter the Kingdom of God where Jesus is your King and Lord. If you don’t submit to His lordship, what evidence do you have that you are actually in His kingdom? Also, when you come to Christ you freely receive His Spirit. If the evidence and the fruit of the Spirit are not in your life, then you should question your salvation.

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17, “righteousness” here means right living.). The fruit of the Spirit starts with love, peace and joy (Galatians 5:22). This is what we are saved into.

If I am conscious when I am about to die, I will be trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to forgive me and justify me of all sin. I will also give all glory to God for anything that I did for Jesus because of His Spirit in my heart (Philippians 2:12-13). Also, for any victory over the flesh that I experienced in this world, I will give glory to God for the authority of the cross of Christ and the power, encouragement, and leading of the wonderful Holy Spirit (Philippians 3:3).

The big question then becomes, “How do I know if I am saved and am going to heaven? How do I know if I’m in the kingdom of God?” 1 John gives many evidences that we are actually saved and have eternal life.It is not uncommon to question one’s salvation. The Bible even says to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The following are scriptures in 1 John that give some evidences of true salvation.

1 John 2:3-6-3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 2:9-10-9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in the darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

1 John 2:28-29-28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1John 3:10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:18-19-18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

1 John 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and He in God.

1 John 5:1-2-1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.

1 John 5:13 These things I written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

So, what is the answer to modern day Protestantism? What can be done about this “cheap grace” mentality that pervades the Western church? One step in the right direction would be to “complete the picture.” We can tell people that we are not saved BY good works, but we are saved “FOR” good works. Then give a few scriptures like Ephesians 2:10 to make this point. Such scriptures make the point that true Christianity does not have a “do as you please” mentality to it. In fact, true Christianity is demonstrated and evidenced by selfless service and compassion for God and people. The true believer finds his life by giving it away.

John 12:24-25-24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Matthew 16:24-25-24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Now, there is a powerful tool that God has put in our hands that would go a very long way to correct our incomplete understanding of salvation. To many Protestants this tool is not much more than a formality. This tool is actually a symbol. The meaning of this symbol is often glossed over, distorted or misapplied. But this symbol PERFECTLY epitomizes and summarizes what is missing from modern day Protestantism. This symbol stands for massive amounts of New Testament teaching commonly left out of modern day Protestant teaching. This God given symbol is Baptism.

Baptism symbolizes a massive amount of New Testament teaching. Being Baptized in the name of Jesus means that the believer is IDENTIFYING with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:11-12).Baptism symbolizes the act of grace where the believer died with Christ and was raised with Christ to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This message COMPLEMENTS the redemption message of the cross where Jesus paid the penalty for the believer’s sins so that he can have life and not death.

As stated before, Baptism is suppose to be a commitment and faith that God in Christ is going to change my life. By believing and committing to dying to the old life and being raised to walk in newness of life with Christ, the new believer is getting on board with a life of faith and commitment of following Christ THROUGH CHRIST’S PROVISION AND GRACE. The new believer is getting on board with dying to self and living for God (Matthew 16:24-27) The believer is agreeing to God’s way and provision for following Christ. The believer is agreeing to follow Christ. The believer is agreeing to walk by faith in Christ’s provision and grace, i.e.,”the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17b).

Baptism stands for so much New Testament teaching. The new believer won’t be able to understand it all, but he will get a general idea of what he is agreeing to. In getting Baptized, the new believer might be thinking, “God, if You can change me and this mess, I’ll be happy to live for You. If you can help me get rid of these bad habits, I will be happy to live differently. Count me in. I absolutely need You and I need Your help.” Just having the above understanding would be PART OF a fabulous start to having a genuine conversion experience.

A huge amount of New Testament teaching is symbolized by Baptism. The reader can look up the following scriptures as well as find more himself: Romans 6:1-11; Romans 6:15-18; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; even possibly 2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 4:10-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11;Galatians 2:19-20; Romans 7:4; Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:22-32; Philippians 3:10-14: Colossians 2:11-12; Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-4; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:24; even Colossians 3:5-17; and more.

Many modern “Christians” avoid scriptures like the above. Even the great Protestant reformers, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Zwingli were still baptizing infants. Baptizing infants was a clear indication that they did not see the true value and meaning of Baptism. Baptizing infants was a clear indication that they did not have an adequate understanding of the above listed scriptures. They were courageous and good men, but they were far from perfect in their teachings. Their teachings were fundamentally incomplete; i.e., they lacked the MEANING of Baptism in their understanding of salvation. Their followers still do.

During the Protestant reformation, the Anabaptists were declaring the value of baptism to the Catholics and the Protestants. Neither were listening. The Catholics were burning the Anabaptists to the stake as heretics. Some followers of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli were driving the Anabaptists from their homes, imprisoning them in dungeons, and chopping their heads off in public executions. The Protestants and Catholics persecuted the Anabaptists in the same way that the Pharisees persecuted Jesus.

Thus, even during the Protestant Reformation, God Was using imperfect vessels to portray a complete understanding of Salvation to the world. The Anabaptists, the Moravians, the Pietists in the Lutheran movement, some Calvinists like the Huguenots, and others were evidence that God was trying to complete the Salvation picture.

Men with their carnal desires resist doctrines and phrases like “crucified with Christ,” “dead to sin,” “take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me,” “baptized into His death,” etc. People gravitate towards phrases like the following: “God’s got me covered no matter what I do,” “Salvation has nothing to do with works,” and an ocean of other partial or twisted truths. People tend to not want a Salvation that intrudes into their lifestyle or means of support.

There is one other twist to modern day Protestantism that should be mentioned here. Some preach that the key to obedience to God is forgiveness of sins. They say that out of appreciation to God for forgiving us our sins, we will willingly and joyfully live a life of obedience to the Lord. This thought is seemingly used all of the time by modern day Protestants, even though the New Testament epistles really don’t teach this as a doctrine. Romans 6,7 and 8; 2 Corinthians 5; Galatians 2; Colossians 2; Ephesians 1; Titus 2&3; 1 John; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Peter 2:24;and the rest of the doctrinal epistles do not mention this theme as the key to obedience and sanctification.

Genuine Salvation and the real grace of God helps to make a person ashamed and regretful of their former life (Romans 6:21; Philippians 3:8; etc.). The saved person comes to hate what they used to be. They consider it a privilege to be baptized into Christ’s death and to be raised up to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). The genuine work of the Holy Spirit helps a believer to absolutely detest sin, especially in oneself, and to love righteousness (right living)(1Corinthians 13:6; Romans 14:17; etc.).

Expecting the believer to live a life of joyful obedience because they have been forgiven, is putting reliance on self to produce good fruit. Only through the cross of Christ and the Holy Spirit will someone be able to produce fruit unto God (Romans 7:4). Modern day Protestantism needs to appreciate the “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross as well as the “forgiven in Christ” truth of the cross. These two truths of the cross should be preached side by side. The bread of Communion and Baptism declare the “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross, as well as other truths.

On a personal note, can you imagine forgiving your six year old for their boo boo’s, and expecting them to live a life of joyful obedience from then on in. Yeah, right! A life of joyful obedience for the Christian requires an understanding of what it means to be dead to sin (Romans 6:11; etc.); what it means to be forgiven; the Christian must have an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit; and the Christian must know how to feed and stand on the word of God.The Cross, the Spirit, and the Word of God! (1 John 5:8)