Grace alone by faith alone, Part 2

At the time of Martin Luther of Germany, the people were very aware that they could not earn their salvation through good works.  And in that awareness was one of the worst perversions the church has ever entertained: good works and money could buy salvation.

The false clergy who sold this idea were the very same who claimed to exalt the apostle Peter.  This is the same Peter who, when asked to sell the power of God, said this:

“May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:20b-23, NIV)

Could Peter have meant anything except that the gift of God cannot be bought with money?  There is no question, and that is why William Tyndale and others like him died to translate the Bible into the language of the people.  No corrupt clergy can stand against the grace of God, when grace is revealed for what it is.

Insightfully, Peter accuses the man trying to buy salvation of being “full of bitterness” and “captive to sin” (verse 23).

People who fight against grace will always be bitter, because they cannot receive what they are trying to block others from receiving.  Jesus said,

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”  (Matthew 23:13, NLT)

This injunction from our Lord is yet a huge reason why the Bible must be translated into the language of the people.  If Satan has placed his own people in false power in false churches, how will the people of God know without His Word to light their path (Psalm 119:105) and reveal the good from the bad (Hebrews 4:12)?

Since the time of the reformation, fewer false teachers in the church have been trying to sell salvation by money—but the ones who do often have very public false ministries.  And the idea that the church is just out to get money is still one of the biggest complaints of those outside the church.

If the idea that money can merit salvation has been critically wounded, what about the idea that works can merit salvation?  Has the church given that fallacy a mortal blow, or are we still engaged in works vs. grace warfare?

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

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Published in: on July 12, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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