Part 1 is here: https://mathewsimon.org/2020/03/26/the-gospel-of-the-new-covenant/.
Now in Part 2, we will see that the Lord’s Prayer, Confession of sins, Selling everything, Sermon on the Mount, tithes, faith with works – were strict demands ONLY for the Israelites under LAW and not for the Gentiles:
I did not write this article lightly but I have come to these conclusions after studying and applying the Bible to myself zealously for almost 20 years.
WHAT ABOUT the LORD’s PRAYER, FORGIVING others to be FORGIVEN by GOD, SELLING EVERYTHING and BEING PERFECT as CHRIST commanded?
We love to recite the Lord’s Prayer. We pray to our Father asking for His kingdom to come and His will be done in our lives. We ask Him to provide our daily needs and protect us from evil. All that is wonderful….but there was one part of it that made me very uncomfortable for many years!
In all the aspects of the Lords’ prayer, Jesus emphasized to the Jews on ONE thing!
The highlight of the prayer was about forgiving others to receive forgiveness from God!
Matthew 6 9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Personally, I struggled a lot with the Lord’s Prayer because I obeyed Christ in trying to forgive everyone. But it became a struggle to forgive even the greatest hurts in life, and the Lord’s Prayer became a huge burden – because I thought that I would not be forgiven unless I forgave everyone in my life.
Why did Christ command that? It was because it was addressed to Israel under the Law.
The Law paraphrased this -> “Do unto others what you want done to you” (Matthew 7:12)
This is why they had to forgive others to receive God’s forgiveness according to the LAW.
In fact, Jesus told them that they had to forgive ALL the time perfectly (77 times – 7 is a number of completion OR infinitely like God)!
Matthew 18 ” 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
The Lord’s prayer was given BEFORE the Cross to Israel under the LAW. It was ONLY for Israel under the Law and NOT for Gentiles. The Lord’s prayer has no mention of the name of Jesus OR the cross. It was all about keeping the law.
Jesus also commanded the Israelites to do many other radical and impossible things to be saved.
Christ told the rich man to be saved (be perfect) by keeping the ten commandments and following Christ by selling everything to the poor.
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. ” Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.””
How did Christ command them to be PERFECT to enter the kingdom?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”
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. 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. …..27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell ………43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 THAT YOU MAY BE children of your Father in heaven…….48 BE PERFECT, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The Israelites had watered down the law and made it easy to be saved by obeying a few commandments like tithing, circumcision, etc.
But John the Baptist told Israel that they needed to repent by actually obeying the full Law and then follow Jesus Christ (Luke 3:7-18).
Jesus Christ came not to remove the law for Israel but to FULFILL it for them. He came to show them how to be saved by truly keeping the law.
He told the Jews that they would be condemned even if they kept the Ten Commandments but still sinned in their hearts, minds or words. There is no denying this – Jesus was not spiritualizing or exaggerating. He meant what He said – Under the Law, the Israelites had to be morally perfect to enter the kingdom. This was His first sermon in the Bible and He was showing the way of salvation for Israel under the law.
He told them to not only love their neighbor but also their enemies and be PERFECT like GOD Himself! That was the ONLY WAY they would enter the kingdom as children of God! They had no choice but to perfectly obey the Law to be saved.
I struggled for years in obeying the Sermon on the Mount and the requirement to sell everything to the poor. Christ commanded all of this, so how could I ignore it? I was zealous in obeying Christ for many years but these commands were too radical. I tried very hard in following Christ as a “disciple” but it only led to fear and depression.
Now I know the answer – it was only for the Israelites under the Law.
But then how could Paul say that salvation was by GRACE for Gentiles but then Christ commanded Israel to keep the LAW?
The Gentiles were NEVER under the Law of Israel.
Jesus only commanded these things to Israel and not anyone else.
The law was a strict schoolmaster to lead Israel to salvation by faith in Christ.
But the Gentiles were never under the law and were outside the covenants without God until Christ came and died on the cross.
Galatians 3 KJV “23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
After Jesus died on the cross and made the NEW COVENANT, the Gentiles can NOW come to GOD and are NOT required to go through the Law and can be saved directly by faith in Christ.
The Gentiles are now saved after the Cross without having to keep the Law of Israel: This is why you will NOT see Paul giving these impossible demands to the Gentiles anywhere in the Bible.
Paul does not tell us to forgive others to be forgiven by God. He tells us the opposite!
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God FORGAVE you.”
God has ALREADY FORGIVEN the believer before we even forgive anyone!
It is because, on the Cross, Jesus died to END the law and forgive ALL our sins in COLOSSIANS 2:11-15 by removing the law from the believer.
The law demanded a curse for those who disobeyed it. But under grace, we are blessed by faith in Christ before we do any works!
We can forgive others BECAUSE we are freely FORGIVEN by God by Christ’s death. We are not forgiven by our forgiveness of others. But we forgive others when we truly realize how much much we are forgiven. (Christ said, that the one who knows he is forgiven of many sins will love more – Luke 7:47).
In the Lord’s Prayer, there is no mention of the name of Jesus Christ or His death on the cross because it was a prayer of the LAW for Israel before the cross!
But when Paul talks about prayer to the Gentiles, look at what he focuses on: the GRACE of JESUS CHRIST and His death and resurrection!
Ephesians 3:14-19 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Paul’s prayer for us Gentiles is that we KNOW the LOVE of CHRIST on the CROSS.
Ephesians 1:17-23 ” I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Paul’s prayer is that we know the RESURRECTION POWER of CHRIST.
Paul’s prayers are FULLY FOCUSED on the Death and Resurrection of JESUS CHRIST.
Once we believe in Christ, we are NOT under the law and its impossible demands of attaining salvation/blessings by forgiving others, selling everything, being perfect, etc.
Now we are PERFECT by Christ’s death alone (Hebrews 10:9-18). We are blessed, righteous and holy by His death and resurrection alone (Romans 4-5) and not our obedience.
Romans 15 KJV “8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (ISRAEL) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:…..16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”
Christ’s earthly ministry and commandments of the LAW was ONLY to ISRAEL.
BUT most of our instructions are from Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles who are righteous by faith APART from the law!
Romans 3 KJV ” 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”
This is why Paul never commanded the Gentiles to SELL everything. Paul also did not extract TITHES but told us to give CHEERFULLY out of a willing heart without any pressure, compulsion, condemnation or guilty conscience!
2nd Corinthians 9 “7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Gentiles are NOT commanded to TITHE.
The command for tithe (10%) was specific to old covenant Israel to support the Levite priesthood. The Levites were commanded to not have any possessions but only live by tithes. If the Israelites tithed then they were blessed. But if they failed to tithe to the Levites, then they were cursed (Malachi 3)
But in the new covenant, there are no Levites and there is no commandment to give the tithe (10%) to the Churches. The Gentiles are not under the Law and NOT under the Tithe. There is NO CURSE if you do not give 10%.
Paul said that the new covenant ministers can ask for donations (1st Corinthians 9:14). We should cheerfully give donations and support to the Churches and ministries with whatever amount we choose (there is no fixed percentage).
We don’t give to attain blessings because Christ has already blessed us (Ephesians 1:3) before we were born! We give because we are already blessed. God blesses us first with finances. When we give, we bless the ministry and they are enabled to bless others.
Christ was already cursed on the cross so that there is NO CURSE for the believer (Galatians 3:13-14) even if you do not give 10%.
Jesus said that the House of God is not a place where we purchase His blessings with our money. Many people have paid for their blessings with tithes and not received anything because they were fooled into thinking that they could purchase it with their tithes.
Luke 19 WEB “45 He entered into the temple, and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’!”
But God’s house is a place of prayer, worship and grace. When we believe in His unconditional love, we are blessed. God does not trade money for His blessings but gives freely by GRACE through faith in Christ.
This is why giving under the new covenant is voluntary, cheerful and without any conditions or judgment.
This is why it is important to know the new covenant and understand the context of Christ’s impossible demands under the Law which are NOT applicable to us because we are NOT under the Law of Moses that ended.
Christ’s commandments of the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, Selling everything to the poor, being perfect without sin, was ONLY for Israel under the Law and not for us Gentiles.
Israel was under higher demands because they were under God’s covenant for 1500 years. The Israelites had witnessed God’s power in Egypt, the wilderness and were under the Law, Priesthood, Prophets, and Temple for many centuries. After that, they had seen Christ for 3.5 years and all His miracles. They had seen the 12 Apostles in their lifetime. They were still under the Law even after the cross because they were the royal priesthood and chosen generation (Exodus 19:6, 1st Peter 2:9). They were the LAST GENERATION of Israelites under the Law. They were the firstfruits, the disciples who had SEEN Christ with their own eyes.
But the Gentiles were never under God’s covenant and had not even seen Christ. That is why Christ commanded all those things to ISRAEL alone and NOT the Gentiles. This is why the Israelites were under MUCH HIGHER and STRICTER DEMANDS than the Gentiles.
This is why the Jewish church sold all their possessions in obedience to Christ (Luke 12:31-33, Matthew 19:16-26, Acts 2:44-47). That was why Ananias and Sapphira died on the spot for not selling everything (Acts 5) because Israel was under the Law until AD70.
Jesus commanded the 12 Apostles to preach to the Jews in all nations teaching them all of these commandments making disciples of all nations.
Matthew 28 “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Nobody in the Churches today obeys Christ’s major commandment of selling everything because it was not commanded to Gentiles today. The reason we don’t see people falling dead in Churches today like Ananias/Sapphira is because we Gentiles are NOT under the strict law of Israel and NOT under the strict demands of Christ. In fact, people commit worse sins and they don’t fall dead on the spot. It is because Gentiles are under far more grace than the Israelites who were under the strict laws.
Christ’s radical demands were only until the “end of the age”. What was the “end of the age”? It was NOT the end of the world but the end of Israel’s law. That Age ended in AD70 when Israel was judged.
Luke 14 “25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…..33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
“Discipleship” was not simply joining Church and serving in Sunday School or administrative work, even if those are highly admirable deeds……BUT Christ commanded the Israelites to FORSAKE everything (jobs, lands, possessions, families and even die as martyrs carrying the cross!). The truth is that nobody does this today proving that we Gentiles were NOT commanded to do any of this.
Jesus told Peter and the Israelite disciples that they would be required to carry the cross just like He did and that they would be judged within their lifetime when Christ came to judge Israel in their generation:
Matthew 16 WEB ”
21 From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This will never be done to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds. 28 Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
When Jesus commanded the rich young ruler and the disciples to sell everything, it was specifically connected to the judgment of the 12 tribes of Israel in the 1st century and NOT the Gentiles:
Matthew 19 WEB “23 Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into God’s Kingdom.” 25 When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter answered, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many will be last who are first, and first who are last.
Jesus had warned the Israelites in Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 13:22-30 that very few Israelites would be saved but lots of Gentiles would enter the kingdom.
Matthew 7 “21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
What was the WILL of the FATHER?
To BELIEVE in CHRIST – but many Israelites stopped believing in Him and followed false Messiahs in the time of great tribulation in the 1st Century.
John 6 ” 28 “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.”….51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”….66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
Israel witnessed Christ performing miracles in their streets for 3.5 years BUT the VAST MAJORITY of them perished in AD70 because of UNBELIEF while many Gentiles entered the kingdom and joined Abraham for the last 2000 years.
Luke 13 ” 22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank WITH YOU, and YOU TAUGHT in our STREETS.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
If we read the 3 synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) you will see that it contains the Lord’s Prayer, Sermon on the Mount, Ten Commandments, the command to sell everything, carrying the cross, the great tribulation and the judgment of Jerusalem in AD70.
Israel was judged in AD70 and they were judged according to the Law that Christ commanded them. This judgment ended in AD70. That is when the Law passed away (Hebrews 8:13, Matthew 24).
Those 3 synoptic Gospels were mainly written to Israelites in all the nations until their judgment in AD70. They were under greater demands because they were the only generation under the Great Tribulation who had witnessed Christ’s teaching and the Apostles. They were the 144,000 Israelites (Revelation 7) – the martyrs who were resurrected to receive the great reward of reigning with Christ for the Millenium in heaven (For details on the great tribulation and AD70, read here: https://mathewsimon.org/2020/04/04/we-are-not-in-the-end-time-tribulation)
The Gospel of John was written AFTER AD70 and was written to Gentiles (the world) and it HAS NO REQUIREMENTS for Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, Sermon on the Mount, carrying the cross, selling everything, being perfect, forgiving others to be saved.
The Gospel of John also has NOTHING about the Great tribulation and destruction of the Temple! It has nothing mentioned about any judgment of Israel at all! It only talks about the final resurrection of the world.
The 3 synoptic Gospels were written to the people in the great tribulation who were under the Law of Israel (much higher demands) until the Law ended in AD70.
The Gospel of John only has the simple requirement of salvation by FAITH in Christ without any works for the Gentiles (world) in John 3:16. It is because this Gospel of John was written AFTER AD70 and written to the Gentile nations (world) AFTER the law of Israel ended in AD70.
Jesus said that the law would pass away when “heaven and earth” passed away.
Matthew 5:18 “18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
In Isaiah 66, the Israelites called their city and temple as the “heaven and earth”. The “heaven and earth” was the Old Covenant / Law of Moses that began on Mt.Sinai. The Israelite’s heaven and earth passed away in AD70 when their nation & Temple was destroyed by the Romans armies. That was when the LAW of Moses ended. The Ten Commandments and 603 ceremonial laws all came to an end in AD70 when Israel’s “heaven and earth” passed away. The Law was introduced on Mt. Sinai with Moses and it ended with Christ’s judgment on Israel in AD70.
Christ had fulfilled the law of Israel and it ended in AD70 when Israel was judged.
Therefore those commandments were not for the Gentiles.
We see in Acts 15 and Acts 21, how the Jewish believers were very zealous to keep the law even after faith in Christ. James told the Apostle Paul that the Jews were required to keep the Law even after faith in Christ but the Gentiles were exempt from the law.
Acts 21 “The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”
The requirements for the Gentiles were a lot more lenient!
Acts 15 “19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should NOT make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood”
Christ did not command the Gentiles to keep the law and that is why the Sermon on the Mount, Lord’s Prayer, selling everything WAS NOT COMMANDED to the Gentile Church.
You will not find any Gentile church selling everything but only the Church in Jerusalem who did so in Act 2:44-45. The Gentile churches actually helped support them with money.
Romans 15 “25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.”
The Jewish Church in Jerusalem were the ones who sold everything and obeyed all of the Law and Christ’s commandments but were supported by the Gentile churches who did not keep the Law and did not sell everything! Those Jews were the “royal priesthood” supported by the rest of the Gentile Church.
The Great Tribulation was in the years 66-70AD when Israel and her 12 tribes were strictly judged and the 144,000 were saved from the 12 tribes (Revelation 7). The Law and Israel ended in 70AD. God is not dealing with the world based on the Law anymore and accepts all people by faith in Christ alone without any works!
The nation of Israel formed in 1948 is a “Gentile” nation in God’s eyes because the law does not exist today. The law already ended in 70AD. The Israel of today are not under any special covenant with God. Today God judges all nations as Gentiles who are not under the law (just like from the time of Adam till Abraham). He offers to ALL nations salvation by grace through faith in Christ without having to keep any laws.
This is why the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, selling everything, tithing, carrying the cross, being perfect without sin – are NOT commanded to any Gentiles today! It was all fulfilled within Israel’s last generation from 30AD (cross) till 70AD.
WHAT ABOUT FAITH vs WORKS? JAMES vs PAUL
Paul said that salvation is by faith and not works (Ephesians 2). But James said that salvation is by faith and works in James 2. Let’s find out why:
In Ephesians 2, Paul clearly said that salvation was by grace through faith without works.
Ephesians 2 “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Paul wrote to the Gentiles that we are justified by faith without works just like Abraham was made righteous before he got circumcised. In the same way, the Christian is made righteous not by his works but by faith in Christ who did the work – by His death and resurrection. Paul told the Gentiles that righteousness did not come through the law but by faith in Christ. Abraham had nothing to offer but he trusted in God to become righteous. He was righteous by believing and not by doing any work. This represents the Gentile who is outside the Law and cannot do anything to please God. The Gentile was dead in sin but is made alive and righteous by FAITH in CHRIST alone.
Romans 4 “4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.…..6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them…..We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!………………13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. …….23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.“
But James wrote to the 12 tribes of Israel telling them that they would be judged by the law. He told them that faith without works is dead – if their faith did not have works then they were not going to be saved. He quoted the case of Abraham who offered Isaac. He quoted Abraham’s works after he was circumcised! This is the case of righteousness by FAITH + WORKS because it heavily focuses on Abraham’s offering/works to God.
James 1 “To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations”
James 2 “8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking ALL of it………20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they DO and NOT by faith alone.”
It is clear that James and Paul were contradicting each other.
James puts a clear requirement to the Jew to believe AND keep the law to be saved. Whereas Paul said that the Gentile is not saved by the law but by faith.
Why is that? We find the answer in Abraham’s journey of faith.
When Abraham was made righteous in Genesis 15, he simply believed God to become righteous without any works. This was before he was circumcised, Abraham was still a Gentile without any law. From the Bible, we know that the Gentile is NOT under the law.
Genesis 15 ” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your SEED be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
In this covenant, it is GOD and JESUS who did everything by putting Abraham to SLEEP. This indicates that the Gentile is saved completely by GRACE through faith and without any works. This promise to Abraham was about the SEED of Christ for the Gentiles. All Gentiles who believed in Christ received the promise of the Holy Spirit who was the deposit for the inheritance in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Galatians 3 “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit……16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his SEED. Scripture does not say “and to SEEDS,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning ONE PERSON, who is CHRIST…..26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Abraham was representing the Gentile before he was circumcised. During that time he was righteous by faith without works. God did not expect him to be blameless in his works and he was simply righteous by faith alone, not by works.
But later on, God commanded him to be circumcised and be blameless in his walk. This is when Abraham is a Jew and he represents ISRAEL under the law.
Genesis 17 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”…….8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”….10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.”
In this covenant, Abraham had to be CIRCUMCISED and walk blamelessly. He was called to do the RADICAL WORK of offering Isaac to be sacrificed. This means he had to do WORKS to be blessed under the covenant – it was a covenant of FAITH + WORKS.
(But in Genesis 15, as a Gentile he DID NOTHING but simply BELIEVED).
It was only the Jews who were under the covenant of circumcision and were commanded by the law to be perfect. It was only the Jew who received the Law and all its commandments. They were the royal priesthood (Exodus 19:6).
The Israelites were under strict Law for 1500 years and they were required to keep the law as Christ commanded them in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-48. Christ commanded them to obey the law, sell everything and be perfect in Matthew 19:16-26. The Israelites were under a much higher standard because they were under the law for 1500 years.
“To whom much was given, much more was expected.”
See how Christ tells the Israelites to sell everything and keep the law because MORE was expected and required from them.
Luke 12 ” 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor…….35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet…..40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”……41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”….From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.“
The Jews were entrusted with the covenants, law, temple, priesthood, sacrifices for 1500 years and they were the only generation who saw Jesus for 3.5 years and all His great miracles. Therefore much was expected from them.
Romans 3 “First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.”
Romans 9 “4 They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. 5 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned.”
The Gentiles were NOT under the law and therefore Christ never commanded us to sell everything or keep the law.
This is why James wrote to the Jews that their faith needed works to be saved. But Paul wrote to the Gentiles that we are saved by faith without any works.
Both Jew and Gentile were saved by grace, but greater grace is shown to the Gentiles who were without God and outside the covenants until Christ died on the cross.
This further clarifies why Christ did not command Gentiles to say the Lord’s prayer, sell everything, confess sins, etc. All of that was only for Israel under the Law.
The epistle of James was written to ISRAELITES (James 1:1) under the law and NOT to Gentiles. It was written about Israel’s judgment before AD70. He told them to fulfill the law and that they would be judged for breaking the law (James 2) and therefore faith without works was dead for the Israelite.
We have to remember that the works commanded by Christ to the Israelites were very RADICAL – being perfect as God, selling everything, loving enemies, forsaking everything.
Christ and James demanded MUCH MORE from Israel because they were under LAW.
That is why the epistle of James to Israel is a lot more STRICT compared to any of Paul’s epistles to the Gentiles who were never under the law!
Gentiles are not saved by works at all but only by GRACE through faith.
WHAT ABOUT the CONFESSION of SINS in 1 JOHN 1:9 ?
We correctly say that we are forgiven when we believe in Jesus
BUT some Churches say that after we are born-again we still need to confess sins to receive / experience forgiveness of sins in the Christian life based on this passage:
1 John 1:9 “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
But this commandment was for unbelievers who were not even forgiven!
The truth is that every believer acknowledges that we are sinners and that is why we believe in Jesus for salvation! The believer says that Jesus died for their sins!
It is IMPOSSIBLE for a believer to claim to be without sin because it would contradict the Gospel that Christ died for our sins!
A Christian already believes that Jesus died for his sins and was already cleansed of unrighteousness! A believer has already been made righteous in Christ.
Therefore, it is impossible for a believer to need further cleansing of “unrighteousness” because we have already been washed and cleansed.
1st Corinthians 6 “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Paul says it was done in the “past tense” – “We WERE WASHED, SANCTIFIED, JUSTIFIED”.
We were made righteous by faith once and for all.
Forgiveness/Salvation is NOT something that must be renewed every Sunday!
Christ is not dying every Sunday that we need forgiveness every week. His ONE-TIME sacrifice was more than enough to save believers because He lives forever.
Hebrews 7 “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
A believer received the GIFT of salvation by FAITH in Christ and NOT by works. Therefore it is impossible for a believer to lose the GIFT by his own sins.
This passage in 1st John 1 was written to unbelievers who denied that Christ came in the flesh and they claimed to not have any sin. These unbelievers claimed to have no sins and therefore did NOT want a Savior! They were antichrist people in the 1st-century church – they denied that Christ came in the flesh.
John writes about them in the same epistle:
1st John 2 ” 18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.….20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
1st John 4 “2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
That is why John told the unbeliever in the 1st Chapter about the Lord Jesus whom the Apostles touched, heard, seen and knew. He was proving to them that Jesus came in the flesh and physically died for sins. He was PREACHING the Gospel to THEM (unbelievers).
1st John 1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 5 This is the MESSAGE we have heard from him and DECLARE to YOU: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
John exhorted the unbelievers that if they confessed that they were sinners and accepted Christ then they would be forgiven all sins and cleansed ALL unrighteousness. (Not some sins but ALL sins).
THEN in the next chapter, John starts addressing believers (dear children).
1st John 2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world……..I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
He tells the believers that they are ALREADY FORGIVEN of all sins! He tells believers not to sin but that if we sinned then Jesus Christ is our Advocate – our High Priest – our mediator before the Father. We stand in the righteousness of Christ and not our sins.
Therefore the believer is already cleansed and is Righteous in Christ, forgiven ALL sins.
Think about it: If the believers’ sins are already forgiven in Chapter 2, then how can John say that we are not forgiven in Chapter 1?
It makes NO SENSE at all if he told believers that they are forgiven by faith in Christ but not forgiven until they keep confessing all their sins! How can a believer who was washed and sanctified by FAITH suddenly become unrighteous because of one sin? Is our sin greater than the blood of Jesus Christ?? Of course NOT. His blood took away ALL our sins once and for all when we first believed in Christ.
Dear friends, this is the CONFUSION and MIXTURE of OLD and NEW covenants because we unknowingly read scriptures out of context.
Under the old covenant, righteousness was EARNED by keeping the entire law. If they obeyed everything then they were righteous otherwise they confessed sins and offered sacrifices and asked for mercy. But in the new covenant, righteousness is GIFTED by believing in Christ and not by any works of the law (Romans 10:1-9).
A believer is forgiven of sins by grace and NOT WORKS but only by FAITH in Christ. So then how can a believer become a sinner again by his bad works? If good works did not save the believer then how can bad works make us unrighteous? The only thing that forgives us is our faith in Christ.
Mark 2:5 WEB “Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
Therefore the only way a believer can become a sinner again is by returning to UNBELIEF – John described those unbelievers who left the church and denied Christ.
Therefore Salvation has nothing to do with the believer’s works!
So then John was clearly telling unbelievers to get saved in Chapter 1 and then reminding believers in chapter 2 that they are already saved! His entire epistle was to make a distinction between believers (righteous) and unbelievers (sinners).
We see that pattern in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
In Romans 5, he addresses believers telling them they are saved:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
But then he addresses unbelievers in Romans 10 preaching to them to get saved!
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved…….9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Another thing to note is that there is only one other place in the New Testament where we find the command to confess sins in James 5:14-15. But we have to realize that this was written by James only to the 12 tribes of Israel who were under the Law of Moses (James 1:1 To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations)
This is consistent with the epistles of John and Peter who were also writing to a predominantly Jewish audience. (Galatians 2 “For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me (Paul) as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. “)
James was addressing all the 12 tribes of Israel – both the believer and unbeliever.
He was telling them to be healed by the prayer of the righteous:
James 5 “13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James was telling the unbeliever to confess their sins and be healed by the prayer of a righteous man. Who is the righteous man? It is the believer in the Church! Every believer is righteous by faith in Christ. The unbeliever was the sinner who needed healing and forgiveness by the intercessory prayer of the Church. If we read the Epistle of James, you will see him addressing the unbeliever/sinner here:
James 5 “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you……..7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”
James 4:8-10 “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
So James was writing to “sinners” who had impure hearts.
How do we become purified? By FAITH in CHRIST.
Acts 15 “Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”
James was writing to the 12 tribes of Israel who were under the LAW with very strict requirements (selling everything in Luke 12, Acts 2, being perfect in heart, word and deed – Matt 5:1-48). They were living during the great tribulation before the “coming” of the Lord in judgment upon the 12 tribes of Israel in their last days.
These were not Gentiles like you and me. He was addressing both believers and unbelievers in the 12 tribes of Israel scattered in the nations. James was addressing unbelievers calling them as “SINNERS”. A believer is NOT a sinner but has been made righteous by faith.
James 2 “14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone CLAIMS to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”
He was addressing unbelievers who had infiltrated the Church just like John did in his epistle. These were false believers who CLAIMED to believe in Jesus but were living in sin and denying the name of Christ.
Jesus had warned the Israelites in Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 13:22-30 that very few Israelites would be saved but lots of Gentiles would enter the kingdom. A lot of the Israelites were deceived by false Messiahs who perished in AD70.
The command to confess sins and be healed was for those unbelievers. It was also commanded to those believers who had strayed away from the faith by unbelief.
James 5 ” 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should WANDER from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a SINNER from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
The Jewish believers were very zealous for the law that included the confession of sins and obedience to various ceremonial laws as James said in Acts 21:18-25.
But the Gentiles were not given all those strict laws. Those strict laws ONLY for the Jews included circumcision, shaving the heads, confessing sins, etc.
The Gentiles were NEVER commanded to confess their sins because they were never under the law! Therefore GREATER GRACE was given to the Gentiles and they were not under the same high demands of the Israelite believers!
Acts 15 “19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should NOT make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
James told the Gentiles to avoid sexual immorality just as Paul told them too (1 Thessalonians 4:3, Colossians 3:5, etc). James also told the Gentiles to avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols so that they would not offend Jews who lived in their cities, just as Paul advised them (1st Corinthians 8, Romans 14).
BUT PAUL NEVER told the Gentiles to confess their sins. NOT EVEN ONCE in all his epistles. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and he did not even mention the doctrine of confession even once in all his epistles! If it were such an important thing, surely he would have mentioned it many times. But he only spoke about Christ crucified (1st Corinthians 2:2, Galatians 3-4), the righteousness of faith (Romans 3-5), salvation by grace (Ephesians 1-2, Colossians 1-2). Paul focused on the CROSS of Jesus Christ and not the confession of sins. He said that healing and miracles came not by confession of sins under the law but by the hearing of the Gospel (Galatians 3:1-5).
This strengthens the proof that confession of sins was only required for those under the Law of Israel (Leviticus 5:5), including the Jewish believers in Christ who still kept the ordinances of the law (Acts 21:20-26).
Confession of sins IS NOT required for Gentile believers today because we were never under the Law of Israel. This is because we are forgiven ALL sins by faith in Christ and not by our daily/weekly confessions.
If we truly needed the confession of sins to be forgiven, then we have to make sure that we confess every single sin in thought, word and deed every day otherwise we will not be saved if we forget to confess some sins! We will be spending all our time confessing sins and forgetting about what Jesus did on the cross! Many years ago, I have done this in my zeal to confess sins and it was overwhelming and painful!
The Law exposed sins and required confession and sacrifices that could never take away sins. Therefore Confession was an ordinance of the Old Covenant. But now in the New Covenant, Christ’s one sacrifice took away our sins by faith in Him.
The Christian is not forgiven by confession of sins. We are in the New Covenant, we are saved and forgiven by faith in Christ apart from any works. We are forgiven ONCE and FOR ALL by His blood on the cross.
Of course, if we sin against somebody, then it is common courtesy to repent and apologize to them directly when we realize our mistake.
But in the New Covenant, God is not asking us to confess our sins to Him because He does not account/remember it any more thanks to the blood of Jesus that made us HOLY once and for all. There is no more sin to forgive and that is why Christ will not die again.
Hebrews 10 ” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. ….Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings“
Let us not enforce an ordinance/barrier of “confession” between us and our Father but let us come boldly to His throne of grace in Jesus’ name!
If we think that God is still remembering our sins, then our faith will be small and without assurance. Our faith will depend on the constant confessions and guilt-clearance which are the shaky foundations of our performance.
But if we believe the truth that God has taken away our past, present, and future sins, then we have CONFIDENCE and ASSURANCE to have a relationship with Him through Jesus all the days of our life. That is the unshakeable foundation of Christ HIMSELF.
DO we HAVE to CONFESS our SINS BEFORE the HOLY COMMUNION?
When Paul told the Gentiles to take the Holy Communion, he did not command them to confess their sins.
1st Corinthians 11 “27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. “
What was the context of “examining themselves”? It was not “confession of sins”.
They were NOT unworthy sinners but they partook in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy MANNER. They were behaving like unbelievers because they took the Lord’s Supper with NO DISCERNMENT of the LORD’s body!
Christ has given us this ordinance as a means to remember His great love by partaking in His precious body and blood. But the Corinthians had treated it as a private buffet and ate all the food and got drunk, leaving the poor believers hungry!
So then Paul was NOT commanding the “confession of sins” before the Holy Communion.
He was commanding them to eat at home if they were hungry AND REMEMBER the Lord when taking the Holy Communion.
1st Corinthians 11 “33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.”
He told them to actually PROCLAIM the LORD’s death by the Holy Communion and actually remember what Jesus did on the cross.
1st Corinthians 11 “26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you PROCLAIM the Lord’s death until he comes.“
In Psalm 103, it says to remember His benefits (forgiveness of sins, healing of sickness). In Psalm 91 the benefit of the Lord’s salvation is protection and long life on the earth. The best way to remember and CONFESS the LORD’s benefits is during the Holy Communion when we actually eat His body and drink His blood.
Luke 22 WEB “19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” 20 Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
When Jesus broke the bread, He gave thanks to the Father because it was the beautiful way of saving us. We say “thank you Jesus” for loving us so much that you gave up your body to be broken on the cross to heal and bless us. Thank you Jesus for shedding your own blood to forgive us and make us righteous.
We partake the Lord’s Supper to receive all these benefits by GRACE through FAITH because by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-12).
INSTEAD of CONFESSING our SINS, we should BELIEVE and CONFESS with our mouths that Jesus DIED to TAKE AWAY our SINS by His blood and that by His stripes we are HEALED and have LONG LIFE! This is the CONFESSION of FAITH.
But the Corinthians were not remembering Christ in the Holy Communion and therefore were not receiving the benefits of His broken body. Their sin was UNBELIEF in Christ and therefore they did not receive the healing or the long life that is the inheritance of believers. But instead, they received the “judgment” of unbelievers. An unbeliever does not believe in Christ’s healing power and therefore does not receive healing of sickness.
These Corinthians missed out on healing and long-life on earth even though they were eventually saved in heaven (1 Corinthians 11:32).
Many people have stayed away in fear of taking the Lord’s Supper because of their many sins. Dear friends, look at how earnestly Jesus wants to share His body and blood with you and me.
Luke 22 WEB “15 He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16 for I tell you, I will no longer by any means eat of it until it is fulfilled in God’s Kingdom.”
Don’t stay back in fear because of sins. Let us come boldly to the throne of grace and receive every blessing that He has freely given us on the cross.
Let us remember Christ and enjoy all the benefits He purchased for us on the cross by our positive confession of faith when we partake the LORD’s SUPPER.
WHAT ABOUT REPENTANCE?
The word “repentance” means a change of heart/mind (Greek: metanoia).
Under the old covenant, they repented by warnings of the LAW. This is why John the Baptist came preaching to Israel telling them to confess their sins and repent because they had broken all the commandments of the law (Luke 3:7-14). He told them to repent by loving one another and doing good (obeying the law). The sin of the Israelites was that they had broken the law (Ten Commandments) and they had to repent and obey the law by faith and obedience (Matt 5:1-48) as Jesus commanded in the Sermon on the Mount.
But for the Gentiles who were never under the law, how did Paul tell the Greeks to repent in Acts 17:29-31?
He told them to stop trusting in other gods and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation. The sin of the Gentiles is UNBELIEF and NOT breaking the Ten Commandments that were NEVER given to us in the first place. Adam’s sin was to trust in his own knowledge of good & evil – to trust in man’s self-righteousness, wisdom and strength. Therefore repentance for us is about turning away from self-righteousness/human-wisdom/self-effort to receive the Grace of God by faith in Christ.
In the case of Israel, how did Peter command them to repent? He exposed their guilt under the law by showing how they had sinned – and then commanded them to repent by faith in Christ.
Acts 2 ” 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the case of Cornelius the Gentile, how did he repent? Peter did not expose his sins but simply preached about Jesus and the HOLY SPIRIT filled Cornelius!
Acts 10 “43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 44 While Peter was still speaking THESE WORDS, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”
When Peter spoke “THESE WORDS” that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ receives the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit filled Cornelius and his household. The Gospel brought instant salvation!
The Israelite disciples called Cornelius’ experience as REPENTANCE !!
Acts 11 ” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Cornelius was a very devout man who did many good works and yet he was not saved. Today many Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and atheists also do good deeds and repent from bad behavior but they are NOT SAVED until they believe in Christ. Therefore the “repentance” for salvation is simply FAITH in CHRIST.
The Gentiles’ repentance is simply to turn to Christ by faith. Cornelius stopped trusting in his good works and TRUSTED in Jesus Christ.
It is only God’s goodness (GRACE) through the GOSPEL that transforms us.
Repentance is the Holy Spirit transforming us when we hear more about God’s love and grace in Christ in the Gospel.
Romans 2 ” God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance”
Who can truly change their hearts by themselves? We cannot change ourselves but only the Holy Spirit does it.
When Zacchaeus repented, it was not because somebody warned him to do so. He was standing in the trees as a tax-collector and sinner when Jesus saw him!
Luke 19 WEB “He entered and was passing through Jericho. 2 There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn’t because of the crowd, because he was short. 4 He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. 7 When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, “He has gone in to lodge with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.”9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
He repented when he saw the love of God coming to his house. Jesus came and brought salvation to his home BY GRACE. The repentance came as a by-product of salvation. The name of Jesus is “The Lord Saves”. When a person believes in the goodness of Christ, then there is great joy and repentance is the fruit of the Spirit working in us and NOT our effort.
For some people, the transformation can be slow and life-long. For others it may be dramatic
We cannot put the cart in front of the horse. The “cart” is repentance, love, and good deeds. We are not saved by doing those things. The cart does not pull the horse forward. It is the horse that pulls the cart forward. The “horse” is our faith in Christ without trusting in works. When we have faith in Christ, then the fruits will come forth in its own time when the Spirit works in us. Therefore we should not emphasize on repentance and good deeds BUT rather magnify Christ’s love and grace that will lead us to bear good fruit effortlessly! That is why it is called “the fruit of the Spirit” because it is the Spirit who bears fruit within us the more we behold Jesus.
This is why we need to hear MORE and MORE about JESUS and not our performance.
We need to hear the GOSPEL again and again and NOT about our sins!
So then dear reader, you are NOT forgiven by confession of sins or repentance or your own performance. You are forgiven once for all only if you stop trusting in your works and BELIEVE in JESUS CHRIST
WHAT ABOUT HEBREWS 10:26 and 6:4-8 – the DELIBERATE WILLFUL SIN that BRINGS JUDGMENT? A BELIEVER CANNOT LOSE SALVATION
In Hebrews 10:26 it said that if anyone deliberately sinned then there is no more sacrifice but only judgment. In Hebrews 6:4 it said that warned people about losing salvation if they fell away – that they would be crucifying Christ all over again.
What is this deliberate sin? The context clearly identifies it in the same chapter:
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
25 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Looking at the clear context, we realize that the “deliberate sin” is willful unbelief and rejection of Christ. It is about a person renouncing Christ and shrinking back to unbelief.
The context tells us that the righteous live by faith – i.e. we become righteous by faith in Jesus Christ – therefore if a person stops believing in Jesus then that person can only expect the final judgment. For that person, he is crucifying Christ all over again – he rejected the cross and he would need Jesus to die again for him – which is impossible!
Peter said that for such a person, it would have been better if he never believed in the first place. The apostate renounced Christ and became worse off than in the beginning.
2nd Peter 2 “20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”
This is not about a person who has doubts about Christ and may have temporarily drifted away into unbelief. This warning is for people who renounced Christ and willfully and consistently rejected His salvation without any remorse until the end of their lives. They have insulted the GRACE of God by NOT believing in Jesus. They have chosen to trust in their works for salvation and INSULTED the GRACE of God. They turned back on the righteousness of faith. They once believed in Christ but stubbornly turned back into the wickedness of apostasy.
It is not talking about a believer who struggles with sin. The believer receives salvation by GRACE through faith in Christ not by works so that nobody can boast (Ephesians 2:8). So then how can a person lose salvation if he sins? No believer is perfect in his behavior. If a person did not gain salvation by his good works then he cannot lose it by his sins.
A person receives salvation by grace through faith BUT can throw it away by willful unbelief and stubborn rejection of Christ’s grace.
So you don’t have to worry if you sinned, you cannot lose salvation. A person cannot lose salvation if he stumbles because salvation is not like a keychain that you lost somewhere. It is not so fragile that you can lose it. The warnings of Hebrews 10 and 6 are for those who willfully and deliberately renounce Christ and go back to unbelief.
Does that mean that we should just live recklessly in sin because we are saved?
Not at all!
Why would a true Christian want to do that? Every single apostle tells us that those who love and practice wickedness are not true Christians (Revelation 21:8, 22:14-15, Galatians 5:19-20, 1 John 3:14-15).
So then a Christian should not live in sin – Christ is our true identity as Paul writes here – the more we see Jesus the more we are transformed into His glory!
Romans 6 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?….8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus…..14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under GRACE.”
We did not become Christians by trying hard to change ourselves but by the new birth through the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not by works but by the GRACE of GOD.
Some well-meaning Christians think that too much grace is a “license to sin”. But Paul said the OPPOSITE. Those under the GRACE of God in Christ, actually will not be ruled by sin. Why is that? Its because those who trust in Jesus and not their own performance are the ones in whom Christ will bear fruit. That is the true meaning of GRACE.
Consider this – if our own performance could make us righteous then there was no need for Christ to die for us. But we could never be set free from sin by our own performance and that is why He died for us – so that He can set us free.
Galatians 5 “24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”
Crucifying the flesh is not about fasting OR trying hard to avoid sin.
It is about NOT TRUSTING in YOUR PERFORMANCE, as Paul says here:
Galatians 2 “19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
How does a person die to the law?
By NOT TRUSTING in their own performance.
By TRUSTING in JESUS CHRIST alone.
By trusting in HIS LOVE for me and not my performance for Him.
When we stop trying hard, then HE does the work in us.
When we stop trying to keep the 2 Written Tablets of Ten Commandments, then He writes His LOVE in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Christ cannot help those who are strong and confident in their performance.
He only helps the HELPLESS and those who have NO CONFIDENCE in their flesh (Philippians 3:1-10).
Therefore transformation does not happen by “trying hard” but because God made us ALIVE and RIGHTEOUS in Christ, seated in heavenly places WITH HIM.
Ephesians 2 ” 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
If we keep telling ourselves that we are wretched sinners, then we are denying God’s word and will not see much transformation. But the more we know who we are in Christ, the more our behavior will change by the Holy Spirit working in us.
The more we BELIEVE we are Righteous in Christ by GRACE through faith then our behavior will change also BY GRACE through faith.
The more we know CHRIST’s unconditional LOVE, the more we are transformed.
For all who believe in Christ, no matter how much we are imperfect in behavior, this is the encouragement we have in the faithfulness of God to keep us holy and blameless until the end of our lives or when Christ returns:
1st Corinthians 1 “4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is FAITHFUL, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1st Thessalonians 5 “23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is FAITHFUL, and HE WILL DO IT.”
Jude “24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
John 5:24 NASB “24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
1st John 5 NIV “11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. “