Rules and Benefits go Hand-in-Hand

Psalms 103:1-5 ESV

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Did you know that most things in life which have benefits also have rules? I’ve been sitting here pondering this for a few minutes, and it is true. My husband and I live in an apartment complex, and as long as we abide by the rules we get to continue living here and enjoying the benefits. But if we choose to disobey the rules, then the apartment management can kick us out and we no longer get to enjoy the benefits.

We also have apartment and car and medical insurance, and as long as we abide by their rules we will continue to be insured. Right now we have the privilege to be able to go inside a store and to buy our own groceries. But stores have rules, too, and if we don’t abide by their rules they can kick us out. And I am able to write on the internet on various sites as long as I abide by their rules. If I choose not to, my privilege can be revoked.

And then look at marriage. It has benefits, too, provided we abide by the marriage covenant. If we choose to live outside of that covenant relationship with spouse then we choose to forfeit at least some of those benefits. And the same goes for our marriage relationship with Jesus Christ. There are benefits to having faith in Jesus Christ, like forgiveness of sins, God’s watch and care over our lives, and intimate relationship with God and eternal life.

But if we should choose to live outside our marriage covenant with our Lord Jesus, which is what faith in Jesus Christ is, then we risk getting to enjoy some or all of the benefits of being in a relationship with Christ, by faith. Far too many people are sharing publicly the benefits of faith in Christ but they are not sharing the fact that there are conditions (rules) attached to those benefits, and if we don’t abide by the rules we may not have salvation.

Psalms 103:6-10 ESV

“The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

Wonderful promises! These are the kinds of messages we enjoy hearing. We enjoy hearing of all the benefits that we get to receive by faith in Jesus Christ. But what is faith? Where does it come from? Faith comes from God. Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith. Faith is gifted to us from God. It is not of ourselves. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ. We don’t define faith. God does.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1]

So if Jesus is the author of our faith, and if our faith comes from God, then that faith is going to agree with God and with his divine will and purpose for our lives. That faith is going to be holy, righteous, morally pure, faithful, honest, obedient, and submissive to our Lord, in practice. It is not going to demand its own way and treat God with dishonor and with disrespect as a matter of life course. True faith does not reject our Lord’s commands.

Psalms 103:11-14 ESV

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.”

Did you see the condition there? If not, read it again. So great is God’s steadfast love toward those who FEAR him. The Lord shows compassion to those who FEAR him, who honor, respect, obey, worship and submit to him, who repent of (turn away from) sin, and not just once but daily, and who walk in obedience to his commands, in his power and strength. And this is not just Old Testament teaching. It is what Jesus taught and it was his New Testament apostles taught. It is all throughout the New Testament. You can’t miss it if you are reading the Scriptures in their context.

So, we can’t just pull these promises out of their context and arbitrarily apply them to anyone who confesses the name of Jesus. All God’s promises to us have conditions we must meet if we are going to be able to claim those promises. If you read the Scriptures in context you will see this. Often sentences will begin with “if” which states we must meet those requirements in order to claim the benefits.

Psalms 103:15-19 ESV

“As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.”

Again, notice with me the conditions. The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who FEAR him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who KEEP (obey) his covenant and remember to DO (obey, put into practice) his commandments (New Covenant). And the New Testament teaches the same thing. Take time to look up and to read the Scripture references I include here and you will see the truth of it.

If we are going to be able to claim salvation from sin, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life with God, and all of God’s many promises of benefits, then we need to meet the Lord’s requirements (his conditions) for us to receive that forgiveness and salvation and eternal life. Yes, we need to believe in Jesus, but that faith does not originate with us. That faith is according to God’s standard, not ours. And that faith is obedient to the Lord.

So, basically a summation of the gospel is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24). If we are going to come after Christ we must deny self, die daily with him to sin, and follow him in obedience (Lu 9:23-26). But if we continue living in sin and not in righteousness, and if we do not obey our Lord and his commands, in practice, then we don’t have eternal life with God regardless of what we profess with our lips (Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8). So, please take this to heart. Your salvation depends on it.

[More: Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

He Gives Purpose

An Original Work / June 9, 2012

“Listen to Me when I’m calling to you.
Obey freely My word.
Follow Me in all of My ways.
Do all that I say.
Hear Me gently whisper to you
My will for your life and future.
Give all of your life and heart to
Follow Me always.”

Repent of your sins and worship Jesus.
He’s your Lord and Master.
He died for your sins so you could
Live with Him today.
He has a plan for your life and
He gives purpose and direction.
He gives meaning to your life,
So follow Him today.

“I love you so much I gave My life for
You to walk in My ways,
Living for Me each day as you
Bow to Me and pray.
Witness for Me of your love for Me and
Of My grace and mercy,
How I died to save you of your
Sins now and always.”

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