Good Works & Salvation
As Christians, many of us read our Bibles, go to church, are involved in a small group or Sunday school class, and pray regularly. But for some, if we were asked to explain what the Trinity is—God in three persons—or why we believe God created the world in seven days, we would have a hard time giving a clear answer. Several months ago our magazine, Israel My Glory, took The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry’s doctrinal statement and broke it down to explain what we believe as a ministry.
Our ministry was blown away by the responses we received. People stopped us at conferences and thanked us, we received letters, emails, and phone calls from those who said they believe what The Friends of Israel believes and this was a way to put that belief into words. This surprising response helped us see we needed to put what we believe into booklet form. And it also made us see the need to share about it here, on our radio and podcast. Our Christian foundations are just that, foundational.
This week we welcome back Dr. Mike Stallard to the program. Dr. Stallard will sit down with Chris and explain how sin came into the world and how God rescued His creation. Then they’ll examine eternal salvation and how can we be sure as Christians that we are going to spend eternity with God. Dr. Stallard breaks these core doctrine beliefs down for us. We hope you’ll be encouraged and learn to better explain what you believe!
Mike Stallard: My favorite word to describe in general what sin represents is the word rebellion. The human race rebelled against God. Adam and Eve decided and we've decided, in our own lives, that we prefer our way to God's way and so it's rebellion against what we know is true.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover with me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. If someone asked you what you believed as a Christian and you're someone who values the unchanging Word of God and loves and supports Israel, how would you answer them? Today we're continuing our focus on the core doctrines of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Our beliefs as an organization originate in the Word of God and that's why it's important. What we believe affects the way we live and do ministry.
Chris Katulka: And this is why we exist here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a gospel ministry. Our heart is that all people might know the truth of who Jesus Christ is and that's why today we're going to be looking really at the issue of salvation. We're going to look at the doctrine of sin. We're going to look at God's redemptive plan, the rescue plan that he sent out and planned for us, which we call salvation. And also we're going to look at some core doctrines underneath that like good works and eternal security. We're going to have Dr. Mike Stallard in the studio and he's going to help bring some clarity to these doctrines.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, last month 50 world leaders met in Jerusalem for the fifth World Holocaust Forum and they were marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camps. German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an emotional speech that his country assumes full responsibility for the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people but his nation had not fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust as Jew hatred is still growing.
Chris Katulka: I actually commend what the German president is saying here. It might shock many people's ears to hear that he is saying that the German people have not yet grappled with the reality of their involvement in the Holocaust and that the hatred of Jewish people still exists in Germany. The German president's recognition, however I think is really a first step into solving the problem. You have to recognize that the problem exists and I appreciate Steinmeier's bravery standing up at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem to tell the world that Germany is not the same as it was under Hitler, but to recognize that the evil is still the same.
We're welcoming Dr. Mike Stallard back in studio. We're looking at some really core doctrines. Doctrines that I believe span Christendom but also doctrines that are near and dear to The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. And remember before you turn off the radio or you shut down the podcast because you're hearing the word doctrine and you think this might be boring, it's not boring. Doctrine is a foundation upon which we stand on. I've said this over and over again when it comes to this discussion, your Christian life isn't built on the emotion that you have toward Jesus Christ. It's built on the biblical understanding of who Jesus Christ is and how God is working and that is all of what doctrine is about and that's why we want to firm up that foundation for you and I can think of no one better to help us with that then Mike Stallard. Mike, great to have you back.
Mike Stallard: Glad to be back.
Chris Katulka: We're talking about sin today. We're talking about salvation and we're talking about good works and so we're going to touch on some big things here in a short amount of time. And so let's jump right in because last week we talked about God's creation and when God created everything out of nothing he looked at that and said, "It's good." He even called it very good at one point, but Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God's command was another act of creation. It actually brought sin into the world. What's the best way to understand what it is? What's a great way to communicate what sin is today to our culture?
Mike Stallard: There are a lot of words in the Bible in Hebrew and Greek and there are English translations that reflect various aspects of sin, whether it's iniquity, whether it's trespass, or whether it's just sin missing the mark. My favorite word to describe in general what sin represents is the word rebellion, which sometimes is the word trespass covers that in various passages but the human race rebelled against God. Adam and Eve decided and we've decided in our own lives, that we prefer our way to God's way.
And so it's rebellion against what we know is true. Now, the best word to describe the effect that's had on creation is the word curse. There's a curse. There is an estrangement that's part of the world, separation from God. I'd like to illustrate that with the story of Benedict Arnold. We all know about that. During the revolutionary war he was a traitor and didn't get what he wanted so he rebelled against George Washington, went against us. But in the end he was not loved in England, Canada or in the United States. He ended up totally estranged from everywhere he went. He was always known as the traitor and he was unloved and buried with no military honors and ended up in an unmarked grave.
Chris Katulka: He was a real Benedict Arnold, wasn't he?
Mike Stallard: He was very, very estranged. And that describes, I think it illustrates our predicament before God and the human race we have brought to this point. We live in this present evil age where we are dead. That's another good word to describe the curse, dead. In our trespasses and sins we are spiritually dead, separated from spiritual favor before God. That's the best way I think probably to describe that.
Chris Katulka: Can you kind of tease out this concept of rebellion more because I mean, I see it not only in my kids, this idea of rebellion, it's embedded, but even me when I think about when I sin or I do something wrong, I love that idea. It's not just that I'm doing something wrong. It's an actual act of rebellion against God's desire for my life. What he wants the best for me. But it's an act of rebellion.
Mike Stallard: Well, I think if you go back to Adam and Eve in Genesis three and the temptation of the serpent upon Eve and she sees these things that appear good to her and she decides that God's ways are not best, her ways are best. Her preferences, her loves, her desires are best. And so in the end rebellion means we decide what's best and we all let God decide that. So we tell the creator he doesn't really know what's best for his creation. That's a pretty serious charge.
Chris Katulka: And it's so funny how God works this out in the relationship between a parent and a kid. Because honestly, a lot of the conversation I have with my kids, with my four kids is you're doing what you want to do, not what I want you to do. And I think it's amazing because I see myself in my relationship with God in the same way. That concept of rebellion. But the best part is that God never gave up. I always find it amazing that in the garden, God could have simply said the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed him, rebelled against him, God could have literally looked and said, "I'm done. This is the one thing I asked you to do. You didn't do it."
But he didn't. Instead, almost calmly says, "Adam, where are you?" In His grace he reaches out. He never gave up despite the fact that they disobeyed and God actually lays out a rescue plan pretty quickly. I mean, we go from Genesis two to Genesis three which we call salvation. Can you summarize this concept of salvation throughout the Bible and I know this is tough, but kind of from the Old Testament to the New Testament, given the limited time we have.
Mike Stallard: Genesis 3:15 is where we start. God in his judgment of the serpent promises a coming seed and the coming seed will destroy the serpent and the evil. So basically we end up understanding that Satan is going down and the earth has a chance. People have a chance and that's given in Genesis three. Genesis 15:6 we see Abraham. He believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. So we see God operating on the basis of a human's faith. God ordains faith to be the channel by which salvation comes. When we get to the New Testament we have Ephesians 2:8-9, “You were saved by grace through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast.” No one is good enough. Now, I often have said this maybe on the radio program before, you can't do enough good deeds to buy one splinter of the cross that Jesus died on and so this is the big picture of deliverance and rescue. The word that you used a little bit before and so he's delivered us from the penalty of sin.
That's justification. When we put our faith in Him, He rescues us as Christians from the power of sin as we dedicate ourselves and are separated more and more unto His ways. And then one day He's coming back to make all things right and He'll separate us from the presence of sin. So, that's a big picture of salvation that He's doing. In the Old Testament people get that salvation by trusting in a coming Messiah. We look back and we trust in a Jesus who has come and done all these wonderful things for us.
Chris Katulka: But faith is the continuity that runs between the Old Testament. I often hear people go, "There was a way in the Old Testament and then there's a way in the New Testament. There's two different ways that appear." I've heard people say that but that is not what we believe. We believe from the very beginning it's been an act of faith that that's what God is looking for is the belief in the faith that a person has in what God is doing. And that continuity runs from the beginning to the end.
Mike Stallard: The level of understanding is different for Old Testament saints, and people today we understand more. We understand that Jesus, the Messiah came and died on a Roman cross. They didn't know that in the Old Testament. We just know a little more details but we're still trusting in the same Messiah, the same promise seed of the woman to come and destroy the evil one and take care of the sin problem. And we embrace Him the same way by faith trusting Him and God through Him.
Chris Katulka: I find it interesting that, going back to that Abraham passage, Genesis 15:6 where the issue that Abraham had there was actually the issue of having a descendant that would carry this promise on. And the promise is the promise that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed. And ultimately, as we know from Paul in Galatians chapter three, that gets worked out in the person of who Jesus is. And so when you go back to that moment with Abraham, the issue was actually who's going to carry this promise on? And whether or not Abraham had faith that God would be the one to make this whole thing, this whole redemptive plan possible. So again, I'm sure Abraham didn't know Jesus's name, but the whole point was that this promise of the ultimate One who would bring redemption starts with Abraham saying, "All right, in the reality of my life, I'm an old man, my wife's old, we couldn't have kids physically. God, I'm going to believe." And that was what God credited to him as righteousness.
Mike Stallard: And I am saved today the same way he was saved, by faith in God's promise. There is no change whatsoever from Old and New Testament and the channel for how we come to God.
Chris Katulka: All right, so we're going to come back from our break here. We're going to continue our discussion because now that we've dealt with the issue of sin very quickly, we've dealt with the issue of salvation. After the break we're going to come back and look at what do good works matter? How do good works fit into this concept of what salvation is and ultimately the grace of God. So be sure to stick around.
Steve Conover: If someone asked you what you believed as a Christian and you're someone who values the unchanging Word of God and loves and supports Israel, how would you answer them? Many struggle to understand what God's Word says about creation, the church, Jesus Christ, salvation, Israel and the end times. Our hope is that our booklet Here We Stand will equip you with 19 key beliefs of the biblical faith. Learning doctrine doesn't have to be a chore. It can revitalize your walk with God and demonstrate your love for him to others as you come to know him better. To purchase your own copy of Here We Stand: 19 Key Christian Beliefs visit us at foiradio.org that's F. O. I. radio.org. We'll have a link on our homepage or you can call our listener line at (888) 343-6940 and someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Once again, that's (888) 343-6940. To order in Canada, call (888) 664-2584. Again, that's (888) 664-2584 and that's in Canada.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We're talking with Dr. Mike Stallard about really serious doctrinal issues here. Before the break, we looked at sin. We looked at God's plan of salvation to rescue us from the sin that has tainted all of his creation. But now that we've understood and have a grasp on salvation throughout biblical history, let's understand what it means now to have good works, how that fits into that. So Mike, can you explain how do good works fit into salvation? Do good works save? How do good works fit into this relationship we have?
Mike Stallard: Good works do not keep us saved. Only God keeps us saved. And remember Ephesians 2:8 and 9 that we read, the last section, we're “saved by grace through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.” Nobody's going to brag in heaven. “I'm here because I deserve to be.” Nobody's going to be able to do that but good works do flow out of salvation. Ephesians 2:10, God's ordained that we follow good works that come out of our salvation. The good works are also the basis for rewards in the Coming Kingdom, Luke 19:11. So good works do have a role to play in our lives but they don't save us.
Chris Katulka: Good works are an outwork of the love that we have for God because he did save us. That is ultimately what I think James is pointing to. But I want to park here for a minute. We're going to transition. I want to talk about this idea that you can't lose your salvation. I think this is a fear that a lot of Christians have. Can I lose my relationship that I have with God? But we at The Friends of Israel believe in a doctrine called eternal security. And what I love about eternal security is that it has both a present tense aspect right now, but it also has the future in mind. Mike, can you lay out what this idea of eternal security is all about?
Mike Stallard: Well, eternal security sometimes called once saved, always saved. Once we have trusted Christ as Savior there's a permanent transaction. I'm justified forever and that will never be taken away from me. Now Paul in the New Testament emphasizes the future aspect of that. My future eternal life. John represents the present aspect of that. I John 5:13 in a passage about assurance. “I've written these things that you may know that you have eternal life.” Well, an eternal life wouldn't be eternal if you could lose it. So eternal life is a present possession. So there's a present aspect to that. But there are a lot of passages that point us to eternal security. Ephesians 1:13 to 14, the Holy Spirit seals us. Those of us who put our faith in God and were kept for the future, there's a guarantee. An earnest, a down payment that's made that God gave us through the Spirit to guarantee he's going to do more.
Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Then Romans 8:28 and 39 might be my favorite. He's going to cause all things to work together for good but there's the plan of God. There's the Son of God and His work and the love of God. “Nothing will separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus” and that would not be possible to say that if we could lose our salvation. Now some people fear that if we hold that view that we'll go out and live like the Devil after we trust the Lord. But the problem with that kind of arguing is, motivation for serving God and doing well is not just fear of hell. The great love, the Holy Spirit sheds and broadens our hearts the love of God.
But once we come to God he moves and works in our hearts to motivate us to do differently. Now we can sin, but there's a greater motivation than just fear of hell for serving the Lord. Love of God and service for others. In fact, I say this about eternal security. Eternal security keeps me grounded in the idea that I need to be focused on other people, not focused on myself. If I'm not eternally secure then I need to be watching my own steps and paying attention to myself instead of focused on helping other people. So I think eternal security is a very important doctrine for Christians.
Chris Katulka: And you had read from Ephesians chapter one verses 13 and 14 which is one of my favorite. The idea that God has sealed you and he's given you that deposit, the Holy Spirit within you, which is a guarantee. He put a down payment on you ultimately so that you have assurance today, like you said, you don't have to wonder whether or not you're going to lose your salvation. You're assured today but also with the anticipation, with the hope that there's something greater coming that ultimately that day of redemption, when Jesus returns, that's what you are sealed for. That's what we're waiting for. That's our hope. That's the thing that we fix our eyes on is the coming of the Lord Jesus, the blessed hope that when the church sees Him we are with Him and that is the beauty of what I believe eternal security is all about. And that's why I want to thank Dr. Mike Stallard for being in studio. Always a joy to have you, sir.
Mike Stallard: Thank you.
Steve Conover: Israel on the verge of becoming a state, a teenage Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry, continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: I recently was walking in the old city of Jerusalem and I saw two young Orthodox Jewish students carrying a very heavy package. When I asked what was in the package, one answered, "This is a package of good deeds. What we have here are Holy commentaries for the ultra Orthodox students." When I heard that I said, "Then you hold a big package of misdeeds. Which is more important the mosaic law or the so called laws contained in your package?" "That is a very hard question." one boy said. "Come with us and we will ask our rabbis." I agreed to go with them and as we walked, I shared God's Word with them. When we arrived at the Shiva, one of the students said, "This kind man has asked us a question we would like you to answer." The rabbi asked, "What would you like to know?" So I asked, "Rabbi, why do you spend all your life and encourage your young students to spend their lives studying these books that have no value?"
"Who are you to speak to me like that?" he demanded. "Do you have anything further to say?" "Yes." I replied. "I am sorry to see such young boys following after false teachings." "What do you mean?" the rabbi asked and then I took out my small Bible and said, "You do not even know what is written in this book. Deuteronomy 6:16 and 17 says, “you shall not tempt the Lord your God. You shall diligently keep his commandments”, but instead of keeping God's commandments, you have spent your entire life studying commentaries, casting away the Word of God. You have tempted God because what you are doing is against his will."
By this time, others had gathered around us. They angrily asked, "Are you an apostate?" "No, I have been a complete Jew since I came to know the Lord according to the way He has instructed us in the Bible. I am sorry for you because you have been living in darkness and you are taking these young boys with you. As we say, when the shepherd strays the sheep will stray after him and you have all gone astray, but there is a way to escape the darkness and come into the light."
I then read Isaiah 53 emphasizing verse six, all we like sheep have gone astray. We've turned everyone to his own way. I then asked, "Now tell me who are the apostates?" One man responded, "We are Jews, but you're not a Jew because you believe in another God." I asked, "How is it possible for one who believes and follows all that is written in the Bible to believe in another God? I have shown you facts from God's own Word. Facts to show you that you are apostates. If you will study with an open mind and heart before God, he will show you the truth."
They all became very quiet and I added, "If you'll put your trust in the Lord alone, he will give you what you can never receive by studying these false teachings. Think about this." "You have certainly given us much to think about." they admitted. I pray these students and rabbis will close their commentaries and open God's Word, which alone has the answer to life's questions. Through his Word they can find the real way to God and the salvation he freely gives to all who receive his Son and our Messiah, the Lord Jesus.
Steve Conover: Chris, it was a joy to have Dr. Mike Stallard with us these last two episodes. Next week you're wrapping our series. What can you tell us?
Chris Katulka: We're going to be looking at prophecy. Prophecy is doctrinal, future things, the end times. A lot of the Scriptures are embedded with prophecy and so it's important for us to understand these doctrines and how they affect our lives as well today and for the future. And also a reminder if you've not yet subscribed to Israel My Glory that you can get a full year at no cost. You can do this by going to foiradio.org. There you can also find the booklet that we've been talking about, Here We Stand: 19 Key Christian Beliefs that we've been mentioning. Again, visit foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Co-written by Sarah Fern. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I’m Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry, communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
Here We Stand: 19 Key Christian Beliefs
If someone asked you what you believed as a Christian—someone who values the unchanging Word of God and loves and supports Israel—how would answer them? Many struggle to understand what God’s Word says about Creation, the church, Jesus Christ, salvation, Israel, and the end-times.
Our hope is our booklet Here We Stand will equip you! Learning doctrine doesn’t have to be a chore. It can revitalize your walk with God and demonstrate your love for Him to others as you come to know Him better.
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Apples of Gold: A Package of Good Deeds — or Misdeeds?
Two young Jewish boys walked by Zvi carrying a heavy package that they described as “a package of good deeds.” When they told him it was filled with commentaries, Zvi called it “a package of misdeeds.” After helping the boys carry the package to the yeshiva, Zvi was met with opposition, as he had insulted the rabbis’ valued books. The rabbis questioned him and accused him of believing in another God. Listen to find out how Zvi handled his accusers and pointed them to the truth.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
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Hard-hitting, accurate, up-to-date analysis of Israel and the Middle East. Thought-provoking examination of God’s Word. Answers about the end-times. The truth behind today’s headlines. Immediate access to the latest books and resources. People who want to be informed—and have a heart for God’s Chosen People—rely on Israel My Glory.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.