Saturday, July 25, 2015

Who Needs the Law?



A dear sister in Christ asked me a great question: Because Jesus died for my sins, and we no longer have to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of our sins, does that mean we no longer have to live by the commandments that God gave Moses?

Jesus was the perfect, complete sacrifice. He said "It is finished" (John 19:30) because His completed, perfect work on the cross was sufficient to pay for all the sins of all mankind, past, present and future (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2). When God looks at the born-again believer (John 3:3-8), He no longer sees our sins, but the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 3:22,25;5:18).

Jesus Christ has forever removed us from the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 3:25. Animal sacrifices (Numbers 15:1-13), which only temporarily covered sins and did not remove them, had to be repeated often, but His perfect sacrifice only needed to be made once (Hebrews 7:26-28; 9; 1 Peter 3:18).

So we no longer have to offer animal sacrifices -- instead, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). We know that we cannot perfectly keep the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Romans 3:23), but even when we do sin, we cannot lose our salvation (Romans 8:35-39).

But Jesus expects us to refrain from sin by yielding to the Holy Spirit within us, Who cannot sin (1 John 3:9). When we do sin, breaking the commandments in thought or in deed (Matthew 5:28), as we do nearly daily by having a covetous or lustful thought, getting angry, etc., it is because the sin nature that we still have to deal with has momentarily won out over the Spirit (Romans 7:14-25).

Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15,21). He also summarized the Ten Commandments by saying "Love God (the first four commandments) and love one another" (the last six commandments; Matthew 22:36-40).

So what about all of the law that God gave Moses? To understand which laws still apply to us today, we must rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Some of those laws were intended specifically for His chosen people at that time in Bible history, like keeping menstruating women outside the camp (Leviticus 15:19).

Many of these laws preserved the lives of His people. In an age when “physicians” in Egypt “treated” open wounds by rubbing animal dung in them, the laws God gave Moses at the same period in history contain the elements of modern day germ theory. In essence, avoid and cleanse yourself after contact with sick people, dead bodies, unclean animals, and human waste, and you’ll live longer (Leviticus 11; Exodus 15:26). Only through the Holy Spirit could Moses record these laws long before mankind even had the first clue that bacteria existed and caused disease.

Some of the laws, such as not mixing two kinds of fiber in the same garment, are never mentioned in the New Testament, and I think it's safe to assume that those are not intended for God's children in the Church Age where we are now. Other laws, such as those dealing with circumcision (Leviticus 12:3) and diet (not eating shellfish, pork, and other unclean animals; Leviticus 11) have health benefits even today, although clearly we do not need to follow these laws to be saved.

The early church argued about some of the laws, with Peter and others even insisting wrongly that Gentile Christians should be circumcised before they could be truly saved. But Paul explained that we are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) through faith alone, and the church then specifically concluded that these Jewish laws did not apply to Gentiles who were engrafted into God’s family by their faith (Romans 11:5-25; Acts 15:1-11).

Adding a practice like circumcision to God’s perfect plan of salvation through faith in the atoning sacrifice of His Son to pay for all our sins is like a slap in God’s face, for it implies that the ransom price Christ paid for us was not sufficient or complete (Romans 4:1-16).

However, other laws that God gave Moses, such as laws prohibiting homosexual acts, are repeated in the New Testament. Jesus reiterates Adam’s statement (Genesis 2:22-24) that one man and one woman unite as one flesh in the sacrament of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6), and Paul specifically states that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-30).

We are saved by grace, not by works, and Jesus Christ has freed us from bondage to sin. Given our liberty in Him (Luke 4:18), are we not freed from the law? (Romans 7:4-6). When asked if we can sin freely so that God’s grace can much more abound, Paul replied, “God forbid!” (Romans 3:31; 6:1-15).

We should yield to the Holy Spirit, Who empowers us to keep the law that is still our standard of conduct, namely the Ten Commandments and any commandment repeated in the New Testament. But praise God, even when we do sin, we cannot lose our salvation, and we no longer face the penalty of sin, which is physical, spiritual, and eternal death (Romans 6:23).

Similarly, we can't earn our salvation by being "good" or by not breaking the law (Romans 3:10-12) If we are guilty of breaking even a single point in the law, whether in deed or even in thought, we are considered guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10-13). .Only One Person could keep the law perfectly, and that is Jesus, Who died and rose again so that we could be freed from sin and death (Hebrews 9:14-15).

We still need the law, not for salvation (Romans 3:19-21; Hebrews 7:19), but as a mirror to show us our sin and our need for a Savior (James 1:22-25). May we daily die to our “old man” – our flesh that still wants to sin – put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-13), and yield to the Holy Spirit Who cannot sin and Who will lead us in the path of righteousness! 

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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26 comments:

  1. Dear Laurie,
    I have friends who believe in "Conditional Security." That is to say, that God will keep you (as a believer) sustain you, and even protect you from the wiles of the devil and from the seductions of evil men, IF you remain faithful and not simply walk away from the faith. But they insist that any believer can walk away from the faith and return to being lost and spend eternity in Hell.
    But what they seem to fail to understand is that all the commandments, and the whole Law delivered to Israel through Moses is perfect, and keeping then entirely without the smallest breach is one way to gain eternal life. But, as you rightly pointed out, if one who keeps the Law perfectly but stumbles at just one point, he becomes guilty of all of it. (James 2:10-13). So we can conclude that if walking away from the faith damns the soul, then not a single person in the whole of human history would be saved. This would include Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, all the prophets, Joseph and Mary, all the Apostles, all New Testament believers, you and me. We would all end up in Hell, everyone of us. Full acquittal and imputation of the righteousness of Christ is vital for Salvation, which embodies Eternal Security.
    Yet I have been a target of teasing for "being one of those Calvinists" - but whether Calvinist or not, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I uphold the Law, and rely on the Holy Spirit within me to help me live by the Law without the threat of loss of salvation.
    Again thank you for your insight of a well written post. God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      Great point -- if we could lose our salvation by sinning, then everyone (except for Jesus, Who is the perfect fulfillment of the Law) would end up in hell. As our pastor likes to say, if God kicked us out of His family every time we sinned, what room does that leave for chastening and correction (Hebrews 12:5-11)? Praise God for His mercy and grace, and for the indwelling Holy Spirit Who helps us keep the law as we yield to Him.
      Thanks as always for your encouragement and God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. Great article, Laurie. so many don't understand that while Christ is the end of the law for all who believe, those who do not are obligated to live by it. the law was intended to show us our need of a savior, and is a valuable tool for showing others why they need to be saved, as well as helping us understand how the Holy spirit will direct us.

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    1. Thanks, Donald! The law condemns those who do not believe in Christ's atoning sacrifice, for none but Him are able to keep the law. Praise God that He shows us how we are sinners, yet in His mercy sent His Son as the Saviour to redeem us.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  3. You share many good points today about the law and following the ten commandments. What stuck out most for me was that we still need the law not for salvation but as a mirror to show us our sin and a need for a Savior. Amen! Thank you for reminding us we are saved by grace and this was done through Jesus Christ and His selfless act of dying on the cross. Blessed you shared this at The Weekend Brew.

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    1. Thank you, Mary, for your thoughtful comment and for hosting! Praise God for His grace, so amazing that He would send His Son to die for us and rise again so that all who trust Him have eternal life.
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  4. Hi Laurie,
    I love what it says in 1 John ch. 3 vs. 2 and 3:-

    'Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.…'

    It is wonderful how God has enabled us to 'purify' ourselves by having our minds renewed in Christ as we are not just 'hearers' but 'doers' of the Word of God enlightened to us by the Holy Spirit. Our God is a very loving, patient God who understands that we are flesh but when we are weak in our maturing in Christ then He is strong.
    We are not 'perfect' yet, but we continue to run the race, as you have said, by yielding to the Holy Spirit, and we shall obtain the prize.
    God bless you for sharing Laurie.

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    1. Amen, Brenda! Looking forward to that day when we shall see Him in all His glory and we too shall have our glorified bodies. In the meantime, may we be purified and sanctified by the washing of His Word, and yielding to the Spirit Who will guide our thoughts and deeds.
      Many thanks to you as always for your lovely comment. May God bless you and your ministries,
      Laurie

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  5. Thank you for sharing this. Yes, the law is for us as a mirror to show us our sin and our need for a Savior

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Ariella! Praise God that He not only shows us through the law how we have gone wrong, but He has sent His Son to make everything right, if we trust Him.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  6. You tackled an intricate subject with grace, Laurie! It's so good to engage with theology and really work out what it is that God wants us to understand. Thankful that we are saved by grace, but that He shows us how we can become more like Him, transforming us with His Holy Spirit.

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    1. Thank you, Jen, for your kind words of encouragement! Praise God that He saves us in our sinful state, then transforms us into a new creation in Him!
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  7. Laurie great post. I read through a few comments and I Franks really stuck out to me, specifically this statement, "So we can conclude that if walking away from the faith damns the soul, then not a single person in the whole of human history would be saved." And you mentioned how we cannot lose our salvation. Interesting points. There are however scriptures that indicate the opposite of Franks point, that point pretty disregards the possibility for an actual human being to walk away from the faith and be damned because of it, that is possible and it does happen. In fact there will be many people who will do just that, walk away from the faith, it's called the falling away, and it's prophesied to precede the coming of the anti-christ.

    The "lose your salvation" or ""not lose your salvation topic is one I have noticed is a hot button topic in the church, mostly on social media though, among theologians and Calvanists and just regular Christians. It usually has people pitting scripture against scripture to prove opposite points. Usually scriptures like the ones with Jesus saying those given to Him by the Father cannot be snatched away and Romans 9 are pitted against scriptures that talk about people falling away (from the faith) in the last days, and certain scriptures that clearly indicate it is very possible to walk away from the faith, walk away from righteousness and turn aside to practicing iniquity. All of these points shared are all presented in the Bible so I never get the back and forth (but) I do think if persons carefully looked they would see something very important. Although truly nobody (as in the enemy) can snatch away from Jesus who the Father has given to Him, people can choose freely to walk away on their own, and it will happen, people will fall away and it's entirely based on their own volition. (continued in next comment...)

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    1. I wanted to share a scripture and would love to see what you think of it. "However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.“Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you? When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die." Ezekiel 18:24-28. That shows us the righteous can actually turn from the faith and die.

      Frank listed many righteous people and said "So we can conclude that if walking away from the faith damns the soul, then not a single person in the whole of human history would be saved. This would include Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, all the prophets, Joseph and Mary, all the Apostles, all New Testament believers, you and me. We would all end up in Hell, everyone of us." This scripture in Ezekiel shows that the answer is yes, if any of them walked away from the faith they would be condemned, the same if we walked away, no exception. A righteous man who walks away from the faith, away from righteousness, is no longer considered righteous anymore. Those who remain however (abiding in Christ) are not condemned. All of this indicates walking away from the faith is totally possible and it does result in a person basically dying spiritually and no longer being considered righteous hence no longer eligible to enter into heaven. this isn't to be mistaken with saying we are saved by works because we know we are not, this is showing that a person can actually fall from grace, walk away from the faith, fall away, but like a scripture that comes to mind states, "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." 2 Timothy 2:19. (that is why all of this is so important to be carefully examined before we conclude anything). But I agree with pretty much what you said in your post.

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    2. One last thing, so I'm not misunderstood. Turning away from the faith is not merely, if you make a mistake and do something wrong, we know we are saved by God;s grace and we receive Hos mercy and we can boldly go before His thrown of grace and confess our sins and be cleansed of all unrighteousness. Turning away is totally different it causes a person to fall from the very grace that we're saved by. It's basically making a conscious decision to no longer serve God and to return to living in iniquity and if a person does that that are damned, they are self condemned. Not so much being snatched away but simply walking away on your own. Turning away indicates a full turn, just like repentance is also a full turn, a complete change of mind. It does happen. I apologize if I wrote too much, this is just such an important topic. But again, I agree with pretty much your entire post, just Frank's comment jumped out to me, like Wham! And I saw you seemed to agree with him.

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    3. Hi Sateigdra,
      Thanks so much for your thorough and thought-provoking comments. With regard to Ezekiel 18, God is speaking to the nation of Israel (v. 25), to whom He gave the law. Faith is nowhere mentioned in this passage. Before Christ died for our sins, the only way to be righteous was to keep the law, which no man (except Jesus) could do perfectly. So anyone straying from the law deserved death in hell, yet even then those who trusted and loved God and obeyed Him to the extent humanly possible were saved by their faith that He is Who He says He is and that He will do what He has said He will do (Hebrews 11). Note that the Ezekiel passage refers to "death," which I believe refers to physical death, as it does not spell out "spiritual death," "damnation," "eternity in hell," etc.

      I believe we must rightly divide the Word of truth, and realize that God here is speaking to the Hebrew people and not to those saved by the Gospel of grace (1 Cor. 15:1-4). But sometimes there is application of these Old Testament passages to believers in the age of grace, and there may well be one here. Specifically, the believer who is truly born-again cannot lose his salvation, because he did nothing to earn it and he cannot walk away from it, for it is almighty God Who keeps it secure. However, sin has its consequences; the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and a Christian may be so backslidden that God gets more glory from his death than from his reprobate life. God may therefore turn him over to Satan for destruction of the flesh, but his soul and spirit then go to Heaven.

      In the KJV, 2 Tim 2:19 is: Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

      This is an exhortation from Paul to Christians that they leave evil and wickedness behind. But even Paul said he had to "die daily" to his flesh and yield to the Spirit to avoid sinning, a battle he did not always win (none of us can; Romans 7:14-23). When we do sin ((Romans 3:23), it is our old sin nature winning out, not the Spirit within us, Who cannot sin.

      To sum up, we are saved by grace, which is the freely given gift of God, through faith, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). We did nothing to earn it except to believe in Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven. We can do nothing to lose it, even by our own volition, because then God's gift of "eternal" life would have no meaning, and our power to walk away would be greater than His power to keep us.

      I have summarized this in an earlier blog post, Are You Sure You're Saved? (http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/2013/09/are-you-sure-youre-saved.html) and I know Frank's blog also has many excellent posts on the topic of eternal security.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comments, and many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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    4. Hi Laurie,
      I disagree with what you said about Ezekiel 18, because to say that was only for the Hebrews would indicate that only the Hebrews can be righteous. Although it was addressed to the Hebrews what God says really is something we all can take note of, seeing that not only the Hebrews can be considered righteous or unrighteous. He was talking to the Hebrews about a righteous man and a sinner, He didn't specify the country from which the righteous man or sinner was from, He simply said righteous man turning from righteousness and a sinner turning from sin, that's pretty general. I also disagree with what you said about Him not meaning spiritual death but only physical death. I do agree with rightly dividing the word of God.

      What I really found an issue with though was really Frank's comment. The comment Frank made makes it seem as though a person can walk away from the faith but still go to heaven because they are covered by grace (even though they walked away from the faith). That's just not true. walking away from the faith isn't merely making a mistake each day because you're not perfect and we die to our flesh daily, walk away is the same as falling away, you make a conscious decision to abandon the truth and go elsewhere. How can a person walk away from the faith, which basically is walking away from Christ, how can a person do that, continue in it and still go to heaven? Because of Grace? So God's grace secures even a person who walks away from Him? Or it would be more correct to say that those who walked away were never truly of Him to begin with, that's better to say than to say a person can walk away from the faith but still be eternally secured by grace. Not talking about simply backsliding or simply making a mistake, I'm talking about full on walking away, once was a believer but now decided, "Oh, I'll be a Muslim or a Hindu, or an Scientologist." People who walked away, abandoned the truth are still secured by God's grace and will enter heaven? They won't. Unless they confess their sin to God and return to the truth, how can they still be able to enter heaven? They have abandoned the faith. Laurie what is falling from grace? What is the falling away that is prophesied to occur before the anti-christ appears? Is that not people walking away from the faith or the results of it? Laurie can a Christian decide they no longer want to serve God anymore they want to be a muslim, can they still enter heaven because once upon a time they were "saved" and eternally secured by grace, though now they follow the teachings of the prophet muhammed? If that sounds crazy what I just said then I'm just showing you what Frank basically said in his statement abut walking away from the faith.

      This is where misunderstanding eternal security has people thinking because they said a sinners prayer and claim to believe, that's it they have a free ticket into heaven, they can do whatever, even according to Frank "walk away from the faith" yet still be secured by God's grace and eternal security. Wouldn't that be using God's grace as a cloak for vice that Paul warned us not to do?

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    5. Thanks for replying to my first set of comments and blessings to you to. :-)

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    6. Hi Sateigdra,
      You're very welcome, and thanks for your thorough reply! As Paul says, (Romans 3:10): "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." No human, Old or New Testament or thereafter, is righteous on His own, but only by the righteousness of Christ credited to our account when we trust in Him.

      Paul also says: (Romans 3:23): "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." So in any dispensation, no human is righteous, and every human is a sinner.

      We cannot be saved by our own righteousness or by perfectly keeping the law (not sinning). We can be saved only by receiving God's freely given gift of grace, through our faith in the atoning sacrifice of His Son. In that transaction, God robes us in the righteousness of Christ, makes us His child and joint heirs with Christ, and gives us eternal life, beginning at the moment of salvation and continuing in Heaven through eternity. (I explained this more in my post, "Salvation's Instant Rewards."

      If a son walks away from his father, disrespects him (as in the Prodigal Son), and even murders his father, he is still his child and nothing can change that fact. Just as a father cannot do away with the fact that his son is biologically his, so Our Father does not kick us out of His family even if we walk away from Him. (He did not disown His chosen people Israel even when they were repeatedly unfaithful and served false gods).

      If God were to kick us out of His family when we sin "enough," (whatever that would mean, for Holy God cannot tolerate any sin) how could He then chasten us as a Father chastens His children, as Hebrews 12:5-11 calls for?

      If we could "walk away" from God's salvation once we are His, doesn't that make void His gift of "eternal" (not "temporary") life, and doesn't that make us more powerful than He is? (which is impossible because He is all powerful.)

      I think you raise an excellent point in your last paragraph. When we are saved, we become a new creation in Christ, and their should be evidence of a changed life. ("By their fruits ye shall know them.") So there are no doubt many who, as you have said, say the sinner's prayer without truly repenting or placing their faith in Christ, and just do it to please someone else or even to try to go to Heaven without having a relationship with Christ. These may subsequently "walk away" from the faith they never really had. But only God knows the hearts and knows whether they have accepted or rejected His Son.

      Therefore, I believe that a better way to state "Once Saved, Always Saved" is "Once TRULY Saved, always saved."

      With regard to "falling away" are you referring to: 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

      Verse 4 refers to the "abomination of desolation," or the antichrist defiling the temple and saying he is god, occurring at the midpoint of the Tribulation (about 3.5 years after the church is Raptured, and about 3.5 years before Christ returns with His saints (born-again believers) to defeat the enemies of Israel, the antichrist, and the beast. The "falling away" that happens before that (v. 3) refers to the apostasy, or false doctrine, being taught in the churches and elsewhere. It does not mean loss of salvation for someone who is saved.

      Thank you again for this stimulating discussion, and God bless you!
      Laurie

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    7. Hello Laurie,

      It's me again :-) I agree that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our own efforts to keep the law, I understand that and I'm in total agreement. Perhaps some things I said were misunderstood and/or perhaps somethings you said were misunderstood, but we're in agreement that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

      I think the misunderstanding perhaps was about what walking away from the faith is. Thanks for the reminder about the prodigal and Israel when they rebelled and served other gods, although it's important to remember that their rebellion didn't go unpunished but still saved a remnant from destruction, showing us God's mercy and never ending love. It's also important to note that the prodigal son did come back after he remembered his father and how much better his life was with his father. All I shared about walking away from the faith was different from what the prodigal son did because I was meaning a persob who never came back, they walked away for good. How could (that) person still go to heaven. I know that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So a person can be forgiven for walking away once they humble themselves and return to Christ. There are some people so full of pride that they don't think they have to confess anything because Christ already wasges their sins away. These people also don't believe that God actually requires us to do anything (not works to receive salvation, to be clear), but works that show pur faith, like what James mentioned. I guess I'm saying people who call Jesus Lors but don't do what He says because they personally feel it's unecessary or they think He doesn't require us to do anything besides say the sinners prayer and that's it, you're saved.

      I really don't know what to say about your last paragraph in response to my question about what is the falling away. I think we have different understandings on that bit.

      Great discussing this with you. I know those who TRULY are God's children, God won't let anyone or anything take us awat from Him. We are secure in His hands.

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    8. Amen Sateigdra -- we are saved by grace through faith in Christ! I agree with you that many who claim to be Christian don't appear to have Christ as Lord in their life. If there is no relationship, but only religion, there is no salvation.

      We are saved and kept by the power of the shed blood of Christ. I think of salvation almost like a blood transfusion -- once you've received it, you can't give it back or walk away from it, even if you change your mind.

      God bless you too!
      Laurie

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    9. Amen. When you mentioned blood transfusion just now, it reminds me of Christ righteousness that has been imputed to those who believe.

      This was a great edifying discussion and post, I'm glad I dropped by. :-)

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    10. Amen, Sateigdra! Thank you so much for this wonderful discussion. I'm blessed to hear that you enjoyed the post. I think this discussion has inspired me to write a post about the power in the blood -- stay tuned!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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