by mark ragsdale
Salvation produces a change in a person that can not be seen with eyes. Only Jah knows the heart of a man, and only He can judge a man's heart. But is there a change that would express itself outwardly so that all men can see the inward change? And is this view Biblical? Let's explore some passages.
Ephesians 4:17-24 In this passage, Paul is telling the Ephesians not to act as the rest of society (Gentiles), with the "futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, alienated from the life of God". Every believer has indwelling them the Spirit of Jah and is no longer separated from Jah, but has been reconciled to Jah by the death and resurrection of Yeshua Christ. Therefore, having the Spirit of Jah, we cannot be as we once were, no matter how hard we try. Verse 21 "if indeed you have heard Him (Christ) and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Yeshua: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts, and be renews in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to Jah, in true righteousness and holiness." If we are saved, and have received the Spirit, we have lost the old man and put on the new man and cannot be as we once were. I have said before that the Spirit inside produces fruit. Skip a head to chapter 5:8. We walk in the light, the Spirit will produce fruit which is in all righteousness, goodness and truth. Other passages that deal with the fruit of the Spirit are: 1 Cor. 6:19,20; Eph. 5:17-21; Phil. 2:12b; Col. 3:12-17; 2 Pet. 1:4-11.
Matthew 19:16-26. Here is the story of the rich young ruler who asked Yeshua what he must do to be saved. Yeshua answered him by showing him the high standards that Jah demands of us, and that we could never meet on our own. This is the Law. When he self-righteously stated that he has done all of these since childhood (a lie?), Yeshua then tells him to sell what he has and give it to the poor. Again, Yeshua is not telling him the way of salvation, but exposing for all to see what is in his heart, and therefore proving that he has not kept the commandments, as he said that he has done. And he was not willing to do this either. The riches and possessions of this life are worth more to him than eternal life. It is also an illustration for us that salvation is giving up everything that we have for everything that Christ offers. Give up our self-righteousness (we all fall short of the glory of Jah) and any hope in ourselves that we can get to Heaven by our own deeds; be willing to obey the Master's every command, no matter what that is (sell your possessions), and finally, the thing that will save us, follow Him. How is this all possible? If we do these things (give up ourselves and our possessions, as an illustration) isn't this works? No. Look at verse 26: "With God all things are possible." Jah enables us to do these things. He gives the faith. He gives us the repentance. He gives us the ability to do what He commands us to do. It is all of Jah, and none form us (with men this is impossible). The changed nature shown here is the willingness to admit that you are a sinner and are willing to do what He says to do.
James 2:14-26 In this passage, James is telling us that faith without works is dead. The Greek word for dead is nekros which means dead. Can dead faith save? No. James goes on in this passage to say that without works, faith is nothing. Faith alone cannot save. James goes on to say that faith must produce works to give evidence of true faith, not only to humans, who cannot see the heart, but also to Jah who can. James gives three examples to prove his point: Abraham, Rahab, and the human body and spirit. So if you have faith without works, then you are no better than the demons who know that Jah is one, Yeshua is the Son, but still is condemned to hell. Have your faith, have your religion, have no evidence of the Spirit, you are not saved. Along with this passage, I am reminded of a parable that Yeshua taught. The parable is the Good Samaritan. A priest, a Levite, who both know the truth and affirm truth about Jah, pass by an injured man. The Samaritan, who is the outcast of Jewish society, stop and helps the injured man. Yeshua asks who is this man's neighbour? The answer: The one who helped. Yeshua tells them to do likewise, as does James.
Colossians 3:7-11 Here Paul is telling the Colossians to put to death the remainder of the sinful life that they enjoyed beforehand. He lists them in verses 5-7 & 8. Why? Because the wrath of Jah is coming to those who practice these things, who we once were before our conversion. And because we have put off the old man and his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge. Knowledge of what or who? Of the Creator. Notice he said renewed. This means constantly ongoing reminding of the new man by studying the Word and being transformed by the knowledge that the Creator gives. Just as a child is complete when born, but has to grow in body and in knowledge, so does believers. Do we know everything when we are first saved? When we have been saved 5 years? 20 years? 100 years? No, but we constantly grow and become more perfect and Christlike as we grow. Verses 12-17 describes the character of the new man. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". How does this happen? By studying the word, being taught the word and even teaching the word. In other words, being a disciple. Yeshua said that to be His disciple, one must do what He commands and follow His word. And by reading and studying we can know His words and be His real disciple.
Arguments against proof: One writer explicitly stated that dead faith can save! (Ray Stanford, Handbook of Personal Evangelism pages 102-3.) And another interpretation actually teaches that dead faith is actually proof of salvation! (Zane C. Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege page 19). How can one read James 2 and see this? Can dead things actually do anything but rot? Can a dead man run into the street to save the child who is about to be hit by the onrushing car? No. This is silly. Works can not save. Only by grace are we saved. That is not the argument. But what I am saying throughout this article is that without some change in ones behaviour, without something being changed in oneself, there is evidence and reason to believe that this person is not saved at all. Now, the change will not be always instant, will not be dramatic, will not be the same in all people, for all people are not the same. But there will be some change. I envision the change like a stock market graph, always going up and down, if you look at it closely, but look at it over a period of time and the general direction of the movement is always up. This is the Christian life, a series of steps and stumbles and occasionally falling on our faces. Our goal is to be Christ-like, but our reality is human, with all its frailties. For one to be saved, he must have faith, that faith has to be genuine, that faith and grace is a gift of Jah, and a result of that faith is works, fruit of the Spirit, not the old nature, for that has died in our new birth.