by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXIV

June, 1945

Number 11

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

In Romans 2:6-16, Paul shows what would be the result if God had no plan of salvation, other than one based on works.  First, he states God's terms to those who insist on being saved by works.  He says God "will be paying each one in accord with his acts; to those, indeed, who, by endurance in good acts are seeking glory and honor and incorruption, life eonian; yet to those of faction, and stubborn, indeed, as to the truth, indignation and fury, affliction and distress, on every human soul which is effecting evil, both of the Jew first and of the Greek, yet glory and honor and peace to every worker of good, both to the Jew first, and to the Greek." 

Let it be understood that he is not talking about those who seek glory and honor and in corruption by prayer and contrition of heart.  No.; he speaks of those who do enough good works to merit eonian life.  And how much good work is necessary?  This is answered by the negative, in the next paragraph: "For whoever sinned without law, without law shall  perish, and whoever sinned in law, through law will be judged."  All humanity sinned, either in law or without law.  Therefore, no one can quality for the prize of eonian life. To qualify, one's life would have to be a continued process of doing good—ALL his life.  There is no salvation under this plan, for any who has sinned, either in law or without law.  

So God makes known a better plan, after showing the utter helplessness of the human family.  The better plan—nay the perfect— plan is mentioned in 3:21-23:  "Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest (being attested by the law and the prophets), yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ's faith, for all, and on all who are believing, for there is no distinction, for all sinned and are wanting of the glory of God."  

God could not depend on our works, nor dare He depend on our faith.  Either would be a failure.  So He depends on Jesus Christ's faith.  We know THIS is all right. His faith never wavered.  It never grew weak.  It led Him to perfect obedience, because the faith was perfect.  Perfect obedience led to death on the cross.  Because of this, the righteousness of God is for all.  But it is not ON all, as yet.  It is on those who believe.  Belief is something that is graciously granted to us, Philippians 1:29.  No one deserves credit for believing.  Much less does he deserve salvation.  If one believes, it is because God has graciously granted faith to him.  If another does not, it is because God has NOT done this for him. 

Therefore it is true that there is no distinction.  There is no more reason why God should save a believer, than there is why He should save the unbeliever.  The former is just like the latter, with the exception that God has granted to him to believe.  The unbelievers will be just as docile when God gets ready for him to be so.  Let us never think that OUR faith merits salvation.  The faith of CHRIST is where the merit lies.  Our faith is granted to us, that we might enjoy and appreciate salvation, and honor God for it.  Faith, which is the spirit of trust, is granted to us when we are called.  Paul was called in grace, and he said this grace overwhelms with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  This is the pattern of our calling and our faith, First Timothy 1:14-16.  The DEVELOPMENT of faith comes with gospel education.  

Justification is mentioned in Romans 3:24.  It is gratuitous or without a cause being found in us.  It is in grace. It is through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus.  It is complete, or it would, or it would not be justification.  There is no such thing as partial justification.  It is not caused, or aided, or perfected, by OUR sufferings.  It is in the blood of Christ, and guarantees salvation, Romans 5:9.  

Justification is said, in the Uncircumcision, to be by faith, but it sis said, in the gospel of the Circumcision, "By works a man is being justified, and not by faith only," James 2:24.  In the same paragraph it is said, "By works was faith perfected." 

Those who think justification, death to sin, etc., is not perfected, except by what WE do, are not able to see any difference between the teaching of Paul and James.  Paul says, "Yet to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him who is justifying the irreverent, his FAITH is reckoned for righteousness," Romans 4:5.  If faith is reckoned for righteousness, no works are needed to perfect it.  James denies this statement of Paul's—yet it is NOT a denial, for it concerns a different people. 

Justification is by faith, but God provides the faith, as well as the salvation.  In the gospel of the Circumcision, salvation is by faith AND works—and God makes both absolutely certain, in the case of those whom He gives to His Son for eonian salvation, John 6:37, 38.  Arriving at Christ, or coming to Christ, constitutes works, but they SHALL do the works.  There is no uncertainty about it.  

Paul's message is different from the gospel of the Circumcision.  This difference is stated in Romans 1:5.  It provides "obedience of faith,' as contrasted with obedience of faith and works, which is found in the gospel brought by the Circumcision writers. 

We died to sin, Romans 6:2.  It is not said we may die to it if we will accept suffering.  We died to it in Christ.  We receive this blessing because HE DIED—not because WE SUFFER.  

I am dead to water, so far as living in it is concerned.  I may get in water, dive in it, and even stay under it for a minute or so.  But I am dead to it, and cannot live in it. 

So I am dead to sin.  I cannot live in it.  But I may plunge into it from time to time.  In other words, to be dead to sin does not mean that we never commit sin, but it does mean that we cannot persist in it.  

In 6:3, 4, we find that through the benefits of Christ's death and resurrection, we walk in newness of life.  The word, "should," in this passage, does not mean "ought to."  It is the future subjunctive and has the force of "shall."  The truth is, we DO walk in newness of life.  This is because we HAVE a new life.  If God should give us the life of a pig, we would walk as a pig.  He has given us the life of Christ, and we walk as Christ.  Do we never sin?  Alas! We do.  But this is not walking; it is stumbling.  We are PRECIPITATED in it, Gal. 6:1.  Sinning is not our aim in life.  Walking as Christ is our aim.  I repeat, sinning is stumbling, or tripping.  My little grandson WALKS as I do, but he stumbles, as I do not.  This does not keep his WALK from being like mine.  It is his STUMBLING that is different. 

Speaking of those who are in Christ Jesus, Paul says, "Not according to flesh are they walking, but according to spirit." 

This blessed chapter begins by saying nothing is condemnation to us, and ends with the comforting assurance that, "Neither death nor life, nor messengers, no sovereignties, no the present, no that which is impending, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

We are careless readers, if we think Romans 2:7-10 gives any assurance of eonian life by works.  This is found in that tart of Romans that paints the picture of hopelessness for the human family.  It begins with 1:18, and ends with 3:20.  There we find every mouth barred and the entire world subject to the entire world subject to the just verdict of God.  It is as if I should promise a thousand dollars to every boy who can lift himself by his own bootstraps, to the top of a tall tree.  Why would I make such an offer?  Merely to show that it can't be done.  Remember, the only way to win eonian life by works, is to never commit sin, and spend one's whole life doing good.  Those who sin, even once, either in law or without law, miss eonian life, 2:11, 12.  "All sin and are wanting of the glory of God," Romans 3:23.  Man's plan of salvation is "works."  It is a failure.  God's way is GRACE.  It succeeds a hundred per cent. 

Since man has no righteousness, it is up to God to provide righteousness, and to put it "on" sinners. It is provided through Jesus Christ's faith.  It is applied through His suffering, His death and His life.  We enjoy it, in expectation, by faith, which, itself, is an outflow from grace, First Timothy 1:14. 

(To Be Continued)

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