So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20, NKJV)
God gave Jericho to Israel by His grace (Joshua 6:2, 16). Yet, it was necessary that Israel obey in faith for the city walls to collapse (Joshua 6:3-5). Please notice that while the walls fell by God’s grace, the army of Israel still had to take the city. The edge of the sword was applied to this godless city after the walls fell (Joshua 6:21). Spiritual victories require us to fight to possess the Lord’s victories (Ephesians 6:10-13). We must be militant against the forces of evil to gain the victory of faith (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 John 5:3-4). Today’s passage also reminds us our spiritual battle is right in front of us. We fight the good fight of faith alongside fellow Christians, exhorting and helping one another each day (Hebrews 12:12-13). We do this even as we engage in our own battles against temptation, trials and trouble. By grace through faith, victory in Christ is assured.
9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (Hebrews 5:9–11, NKJV)
The great truth that Jesus Christ is the sinless sacrifice by whom our eternal salvation is offered is fundamental to the gospel of His grace. It is also basic truth that He saves “all who obey Him” – obedience faith is necessary to be saved and go to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ’s appointment by God as the High Priest of our confession to serve in heaven of God’s house is crucial to our redemption (Hebrews 3:1; 8:1-2). Understanding the nature and work of our High Priest enlivens our hope and sustains our diligent service to Him. Yet, like the Hebrew Christians, we may not be in a good position to learn these things. We become “dull of hearing” (difficult to teach) if we are not diligent hearers and doers of the word (James 1:21-25). Spiritual growth in Christ requires a heart that is open to Christ’s word and a life that is using His word “to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). How’s your hearing?
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3–4, NKJV)
Jude was eager to write to faithful brethren about “our common salvation.” But, an even more pressing need arose that required his immediate attention. His epistle gives a stern warning and a strong indictment of false teachers who had slipped in among them unnoticed. Their teaching was corrupting the grace of God, offering sinful abandon rather than the self-control of holiness. This was nothing less than a denial of God and our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 4). Please note, there is a common salvation and a singular faith that we must contend for and from which we must not deviate. Just as there is only one way of salvation, there is only one faith (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 4:5). The ecumenical movement is a direct assault on both of these gospel principles. Unless we contend (struggle intensely) for the gospel that was fully and finally delivered to the world by the apostles and prophets of Jesus, we have already abandoned our common salvation for the whims and impulses of men. The enemies of truth are afoot. Let us “fight the good fight of faith” and “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12).
Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. (Jonah 3:10, NKJV)
The Protestant Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church fell far short of restoring New Testament Christianity. One such area was its failure to return to the Scriptural (and thus, essential) place of obedience to God to be saved “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Obedience is an “unprofitable” servant’s faith at work (Luke 17:10). Protestantism opted to demonize every kind of work while codifying salvation by faith only, even though Scripture says, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). And, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). Nineveh’s salvation from God’s imminent destruction well illustrates the part that a working faith plays in salvation. Why would God consider Nineveh’s “works” at all, if works have nothing to do with God’s gift of salvation (Jonah 3:7-9, 10)? Jesus endorsed their works as proof that “they repented” (Luke 11:32). Even so, we do not earn salvation when we obey God’s command to repent (Acts 17:30). But, without obeying God and repenting of sins, we will not receive His grace that saves our soul. Repentance is a work of faith, a condition we must meet to be saved (Acts 3:19). God has given commands we must obey as conditions to be saved “by grace through faith.” Unless we obey them, we do not trust God. All we have is a dead faith.
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:16–18, NKJV)
Looking back to John 1:14, where the Word is announced as “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” John returns to the abundant grace found in the only begotten Son of God. In Jesus Christ (not Moses), a never-ceasing source of grace has appeared and is available to the entire human race. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). God’s grace offers salvation to everyone. God’s truth teaches us what to do to receive grace and to stand in it (Romans 5:1-2). Thus, grace and truth meet in Jesus. By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). The gospel of His grace convicts us of our sin and its truth corrects us to obtain an eternal inheritance (Acts 20:24, 32). The Son of God is the only begotten (unique, one of a kind). We have not seen the invisible God (John 5:37; 6:46). But, the Son, who is eternal God, is qualified to do so (John 1:1). He shows us who God is and what God does. That is why He is the Word, and His Light brings life to the world (John 1:4-5, 9). Hear Him and live in His grace and truth.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NKJV)
The Word (eternal deity who created the world) became human and lived on the earth He created (John 1:3). He did not relinquish His deity when He came to earth, but He did empty Himself of its form (its glory) to take upon Himself flesh (Philippians 2:6-7). He became a man and lived among men. But, He was unique, “the only begotten of the Father,” because “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). His divine nature was revealed to the world by His words and by His miracles, then recorded by eyewitnesses who beheld His glory (John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4). The Word brought the fullness of grace and truth to the world. He is our one and only true source of grace and truth. God’s grace is completely available in the truth, the word of God (John 17:17). And, God’s truth is always consistent with His grace (Galatians 1:6-7). What wonderful comfort it is to know God’s grace and truth are available to us in the Word, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41–42)
The psalmist understood what is easily forgotten; God’s mercy is inseparably attached to God’s word. The mercy and grace of God that saves sinners is available to us all (Hebrews 2:9). Yet, God’s gracious mercy is only received by sinners according to the word of God. Sinners are saved “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is God’s part; faith is our part. Salvation by God’s grace is given to the person who dies to sin, not to the person who continues to sin in violation of God’s word (Romans 6:1-2). Like the psalmist, we trust in God’s word to answer those who reproach us for relying on the mercies of God. We trust in God’s word to establish and secure our faith. It leads us to God’s mercies and assures our trust in Him to save us by His grace as we walk by faith, doing His word. Thank God for His merciful salvation and the word of His grace in which we put our truth (Acts 20:32).