Saved By Works

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

~ Matthew 5:17

I wonder if my title grabbed your attention? Bible-believing Christians know that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works. Yet, the catch is, I’m not talking about our works – I’m speaking to the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s right. It is by believing in His works we are saved. I hope you understand beloved how important, how imperative, how essential it is we affirm, as followers of Christ, salvation by works. Again, not by our own worthless works, but by the perfect work of Jesus Christ in fulfilling the Law of God. That Christ did what we cannot do. He kept the high standard of God’s holy law, something Adam nor any of his descendants did or can do in our own strength. Jesus did not run from the Law of God. He did not try to minimize the Law. He did not try to plead ignorance to the Law. No. Jesus boldly embraced, obeyed and perfectly fulfilled the Law of God on the behalf of His people. Praise His name!

~ apl


Inasmuch As You Do

“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”

~ Matthew 25:40b

Jesus teaches His followers a very valuable lesson in these few words taken from Matthew’s Gospel. His lesson is this: The love, mercy and compassion we show to the least of those in this world who belong to Him, His brethren, is as if we are doing it unto Jesus Himself. Our Lord so identifies with us, that we when we serve one another, it is as if we are personally serving Him. Do we look at our charity, compassion and care for our fellow saints in this light? Does the knowledge that loving and serving the Body of Christ is as if we are loving and serving Him increase your motivation to labor in His kingdom? My prayer is the least of these know Christ’s love because it is seen and felt through you. Amen.

~ apl

The Ultimate Question

“Who do you say that I am”?

~ Matthew 16:15

From ancient philosophers to modern scholars, people have delved into timeless questions. What are the origins of the universe? Is there really any such thing as good and evil? Where did man come from? What is the meaning of life? Mankind has relentlessly prodded and plied on these ubiquitous questions with little to no avail for centuries on end.

Yet, there is only one question that truly matters. It is the one question every person must eventually face. This crucial question draws a spiritual line in the sand which divides and defines the whole human race. It is a question of reckoning. This essential question confronts the man, challenges the mind and pierces the very heart and soul.

Jesus puts this question to everyone who ever lives, “Who do you say that I am?” And to be sure, there are as many opinions about who Jesus was and is, as there are about the origins of the universe. In Jesus’ own day, He was likened to Elijah and Jeremiah. Some thought He was John the Baptist. Yet, all of these answers fall short of the glorious truth.

Peter, the Apostle, replies to our Lord’s question saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This, beloved reader, is the only satisfactory answer. None other will do. Jesus is the Christ, or He is nothing. And while foolish men may continue their search for the meaning of life, Jesus is Life. And He is asking you, “Who do you say that I am?” May your answer to this ultimate question echo Peter’s own, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.

~ apl

Prayer Life Pause: Lord Jesus, make the reality of Your divine person, love and grace ever more present in my life that I might continually exclaim and proclaim You to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Saved By Works

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

~ Matthew 5:17-18

Jesus spoke in many different ways about His divine purpose in coming to this earth. He spoke in terms of offering salvation and eternal life. He talked about gathering His people together, shepherding His sheep, tending to His flocks. But what He says right here in Matthew 5:17-18 is possibly the most important aspect of Christ’s redemptive ministry on earth – that is His perfectly fulfilling God’s Law. Because, without that, without the fulfillment of the Law, there is no redemption and therefore no salvation. So why then was it imperative that Jesus fulfill the Law of God in order to save sinners?

The reason why all are now under the curse of sin as a result of Adam’s Fall is because God did not set aside His law simply because of our failure. God did not destroy His command simply because of Adam’s inability and unwillingness to keep it. God’s holy Law abides and remains as our great moral standard. Why? Because God’s perfect Law is a reflection of His own perfect character. Therefore as through one man’s disobedience to God’s law we were all lost, it is through another man’s perfect obedience we have the way of salvation. Or to put it another way, we are most certainly saved by works, they are just not our own works, we are saved through the work of Jesus Christ in perfectly fulfilling the Law of God on our behalf.

Yet salvation, we must confess the Bible teaches is also by grace through faith too, isn’t it? And how is this? Because when you come to faith in Christ, God who is rich in mercy takes the perfect obedience of His Son to His Law and graciously imputes or accounts it as your righteousness as if as if you yourself had perfectly kept God’s Law your entire life. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it impossible to fathom? Yet, that’s the grace God in of salvation – that the perfect unblemished work of Christ is applied to you when, by faith, you embrace Jesus Christ and His saving work.

We are saved by good works unto good works. As much as possible we are to imitate Christ. We are saved by Christ’s good work of perfect obedience to God’s Law which He came to fulfill and that He graciously imputes to us that we might in turn and with the help of the Holy Spirit, strive, however imperfectly, to do the good works of obedience ourselves. And we know we will never keep God’s law perfectly as Christ did, but God knows our heart, and He sees our motives and to Him, what the Scriptures seem to teach is that God earnestly desires from His people, not heartless cold outward conformity, but lives that are moved from a deep abiding heartfelt desire to love God and to fulfill all His Word.

~ apl

All This Was Done

“But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

~ Matthew 26:56 (NKJV)

The birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was not some random cosmic accident. Mere chance had no hand in it. The redemption Christ brought to this world was the result of a glorious and eternal plan of salvation for a lost and dying world. Since the first man fell from righteousness and succumbed to the temptation of sin, mankind has desperately needed a Redeemer. Jesus is that Redeemer. All that was accomplished from His miraculous birth, through His sinless life, sacrificial death and justifying resurrection, was done that God’s Word, what the Lord had promised through the prophets of old, would lovingly, mercifully and gracious be fulfilled. May we embrace Christ and what He has done for us.


Depart From Me

“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... And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me…”

~ Matthew 7:21 & 23 (NKJV)

What greater tragedy could there be than on the last day, believing you are going to heaven, to hear the Lord Jesus utter to you the words, “Depart from me, I never knew you”? I think what Jesus is trying to teach us here with these stark words is it isn’t enough to simple say you’re a Christian. It isn’t enough to say you believe in Him and follow Him. Jesus doesn’t accept mere lip service. It is he who does the will of the Father who enters into Christ’s kingdom. Jesus doesn’t want your words, He wants you. So not everyone who merely says “Lord, Lord” or “Jesus I know you” is saved, but those who truly and sincerely desire to love and serve Him.

Jesus wants people who are completely dedicated to following Him. He is seeking true disciples. Those who want to learn from Him, be like Him and be with Him. Jesus wants the confession of our mouth to match the character of our life. If we say Lord Lord, if we confess to know Him, then He desires for our life to show it. He wants our faith to be reflected in our good works. And Christ warns us, if we merely acknowledge Him with our lips, but don’t live for Him by faith, then we are in jeopardy of hearing those eternally frightful words from the Lord, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”.

~ apl

Who Am I?

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

~ Matthew 16:15-16 (NKJV)

This, beloved, is the only answer that will suffice in the eyes of God the Father. Jesus, you are the Christ, the promised Messiah, and not only this You are God’s own dear begotten Son. Peter’s confession is short, but it embraces all that is contained in our salvation. Jesus is not only the Son of Man, but Son of God, the living God in contrast to false gods and dead idols – Jesus is the only begotten Son of the one true and living God. It is in Jesus alone the sinner is loved, forgiven, justified, and reconciled to God the Father.

~ apl

As Wide As The World

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

The poor and needy; the weary and heavy-ladened; the soul sick of sin and of the world; the sinner conscious of guilt and afraid to die, may come to Jesus Christ and live, the invitation is as wide as the world. The child and the old man may seek and find salvation at the feet of the same Saviour. No child is too young; no man is too old: no one is too great a sinner. Christ is “full” of mercy, and all who come shall find peace. O how should we, in this sinful and miserable world, borne down with sin, and exposed each moment to death – how should we come and find the peace which he has promised to all, and take the yoke which all [who have believed on Him] have found to be light!

~ Albert Barnes, Notes On The Whole Bible

A Slave To Riches

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)

Christ returns to the former doctrine, the object of which was to withdraw his disciples from covetousness. He had formerly said, that the heart of man is bound and fixed upon its treasure; and he now gives warning, that the hearts of those who are devoted to riches are alienated from the Lord. For the greater part of men are wont to flatter themselves with a deceitful pretense, when they imagine, that it is possible for them to be divided between God and their own lusts.

Christ affirms that it is impossible for any man to obey God, and, at the same time, to obey his own flesh. This was, no doubt, a proverb in common use: No man can serve two masters He takes for granted a truth which had been universally admitted, and applies it to his present subject: where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost his authority. True, it is not impossible that those who are rich shall serve God; but whoever gives himself up as a slave to riches must abandon the service of God: for covetousness makes us the slaves of the devil.

~ John Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 6:24

Lips & Hearts

[They] honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

~ Matthew 15:8a (NKJV)

The Christian faith is first and foremost a matter of the heart. If one thinks living for Christ is simply, or primarily, going through a set of religious rites and rituals, they have missed the point entirely. Sadly, we can convince ourselves otherwise. Many do practically, though maybe unintentionally, honor Jesus with their lips while their hearts are far from Him.

The Lord made this clear even under the Old Covenant with Israel. He desires our heart. Though true believers in the Lord Jesus should honor Him with their lips, it should be from a heart that is drawn near to Him. It isn’t either or, it’s both. May we not depend on our outward conformity as the basis for our experience with God, rather may we be inwardly convicted and surrender our whole hearts unto Him honoring the Lord heart, mind and soul.