I believe that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). So the only “condition” on my salvation is that I put my faith in God’s ability to save me rather than in my works or in my theology or even in my faith (i.e. I don’t have to have “enough faith” or “more faith” because Jesus actually has “more than enough” so I’m just putting my flimsy-human-faith in His grace and faith to save me.)
It is important to note that even my faith is not a work, as indicated by Eph. 2:9 and that what faith boils down to is that Jesus saves me. Nothing more than Jesus. Nothing less than Jesus. Jesus only. By grace not works. Nothing I do or don’t do can change this (Westerners call it “right standing” I prefer the Easterner’s view of –) “right relationship” with God.
When I was a child I was led to believe I had confess my sins, try to be more sorry, try be obedient, read the Bible every day, pray more, go to church regularly, be baptised, get my theology right especially things like: God is triune, Jesus is both God and man; then later it was: speak in tongues, give money and serve God. I was burnt out before I reached adulthood. Now I understand that not a single one of these things has any bearing on my salvation.
The criminal on the cross was saved by recognising Jesus’ ability to save him without doing any good works or debating theology. The prodigal son was welcomed home before and without saying sorry, let alone actually being sorry or doing any kind of penance.
A lot of Christians will argue that you cannot possibly be a Christian and not change your sinful behaviour. They quote James 2:26 – Faith without deeds is dead! However this is not a warning about how to lose salvation, it is simply a fact that our deeds flow from what we believe. Jesus is the vine; we are the branches (John 15). The fruit of the spirit (Galatians 6) naturally sprouts from the vine. The branches don’t muster all their will-power to grow fruit; they simply produce fruit naturally because they are plugged into the source: the vine.
For some reason Western-Christians will argue that all sexual sins are very strong evidence that a person is or is not producing good fruit. I don’t know why we are obsessed about sex, but think about the truth of what I’ve just said:
- Pastors caught in adultery are dismissed and shamed
- Women who get pregnant out of wedlock are shunned by the people they thought were their best friends
- Homosexuals are told they have to change or else they aren’t Christians
- Pornography is burned at teen rallies
- Divorcees are criticised as failures for their divorce and told, not only that it’s a sin to divorce, but that it’s a sin to re-marry even though, logically, it would be better for them to remarry, than to “burn with passion” (and most likely fail) to stay celibate for the rest of their lives
I don’t know when the Western preoccupation with “sexual sin” began but I don’t believe that being homosexual or an adulterer or addicted to pornography is any worse or better than telling lies, pretending to be happy, serving the church with a resentful heart, giving with a bitter attitude, or trying to gain approval by saying all the right Christianese phrases around Christianese friends (all of which Christians deliberately do in church all the time). We Christians are all bearing both good and bad fruit because we are still living in a fallen world and our salvation has not come to its completion in the earthly realm even though it has in the spiritual realm.
Once again, none of these “deeds” – the ones hidden in people’s hearts and the physical acts people try to hide – can change the fact that God has made us righteous, holy and blameless in his sight (2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 1:4, Col. 1:22) including being homosexual.
If you focus your attention on Jesus, you will naturally produce more good fruit. If you focus on sin and guilt and confession and repentance, you will produce more of the same: more sin and more guilt! However, ultimately, Jesus righteousness is attributed to those who put their faith in his grace. God does not see your earthly “bad fruits” because he sees Jesus’ righteousness and the more you see yourself as the righteousness of God, the more your will naturally produce “good fruit” anyway!
The key, according to John 15, is to remain in Jesus i.e. to fix your eyes on his grace not your works or even your fruit. Your bad fruit has been and is being cut away, and your good branches are being pruned. You are safe and saved by putting faith in his grace.