Luke 19:1-10, “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
In order to rightly divide the Word of God, we must never take a single passage of Scripture by itself. Pastor Curtis Hutson (1934-1995) taught me that you never use an obscure passage of Scripture to contradict a clear one. He was so right! Many false doctrines are fabricated by lifting a text out of context, which creates a new pretext. To rightly divide the Word of Truth (2nd Timothy 2:15), we must always cross-reference Scripture with Scripture.
In this beautiful true story about a named Zacchaeus, we learn that he got saved. The Bible doesn't give us the details, but we know that he got saved because Jesus said so in Luke 19:9, “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Now we know from comparing Scripture with Scripture that the ONLY way a person can be saved is by faith in Jesus Christ:
Galatians 3:6-9, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
I love that passage of Scripture! The Bible says that Zacchaeus JOYFULLY received Jesus Christ, which is how anyone gets saved. John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Zacchaeus was a known thief. The Bible says he was a very rich man. We know that Zacchaeus got rich by cheating people, because he told Christ that he would return four times the amount he stole. The dear Savior said in Luke 19:9b, “This day salvation is salvation come to this house.” Zacchaeus wasn't saved by works, nor were works evidence that he was saved, but he was doing good works because he got saved. We must be very careful not to use this passage as a salvation passage, since it does not provide clear details of how he got saved. We know that Zacchaeus joyfully received Christ. But we know that Zacchaeus had faith, for that is the ONLY way anyone has ever been saved (Acts 10:43).
We must keep the doctrines of sanctification separate from justification. I love what Pilgrim's Profess author John Bunyan (1628-1688 said:
“If you do not put a difference between justification wrought by the man Christ without and sanctification wrought by the Spirit of Christ within, you are not able to divide the Word aright; but contrariwise, you corrupt the Word of God, and cast stumbling blocks before the people.” —Evangelist John Bunyan
Wow, I couldn't have said it any better! Bravo John Bunyan for being doctrinally sound!!!
Another one of my all-time favorite preachers is Pastor M.R. DeHaan (1891-1965), who made these helpful brilliant theological observations:
"There is a vast difference between coming to Jesus for salvation and coming after Jesus for service. Coming to Christ makes one a believer, while coming after Christ makes one a disciple. All believers are not disciples. To become a believer one accepts the invitation of the Gospel, to be a disciple one obeys the challenge to a life of dedicated service and separation. Salvation comes through the sacrifice of Christ; discipleship comes only by sacrifice of self and surrender to His call for devoted service. Salvation is free, but discipleship involves paying the price of a separated walk. Salvation can't be lost because it depends upon God's faithfulness, but discipleship can be lost because it depends upon our faithfulness." [emphasis added] —Pastor M.R. DeHaan, "Hebrews"; Zondervan Publishing House, 1959 (p. 117)
Another Free Grace Theology preacher, Pastor Zane C. Hodges (1932-2008) made this excellent helpful truthful observation:
"Eternal life is free. Discipleship is immeasurably hard. The former is attained by faith alone, the latter by a faith that works... the former brings with it the righteousness of God so that a man is 'justified freely by his grace' (Romans 3:24). The latter develops a personal righteousness, based on good deeds, so that a man was also 'justified by works' (James 2:24). The former constituted the believer God's workmanship, the latter fulfilled the wonderful purpose for which he had been created. The former cost man nothing, the latter could cost him everything, including life itself." [emphasis added] —Pastor Zane C. Hodges, "The Hungry Inherit"; Moody Press, Inc., 1972 (p. 114-115)
If these dear men of God can see THE TRUTH for what it is, then so can every other man. So why don't they? In a word, pride. Man's sinful pride compels him to think that somehow, someway, humans must play a significant role in their own salvation. Yet, the Holy Bible teaches the exact opposite, that salvation is solely of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). Man's only part in salvation is to CEASE from his own labours (efforts) and REST completely in the finished work of the Savior, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:10-11). Jesus said this too in John 6:28-29, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” The only “WORK” that anyone can do to get to Heaven is to “BELIEVE” on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 16:30-31).
It is therefore imperative that every preacher keep sanctification (discipleship) completely separate from justification (salvation). We are JUSTIFIED (just-if-I'd never sinned) by faith alone in Christ; but we are sanctified day-by-day by the inspired Word of God (John 17:17), as the Holy Spirit conforms us into the image of His only begotten Son Jesus (Romans 8:29). In other words, God saves us and then the Holy Spirit changes us. I love these helpful words from Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001):
The word "conversion" means "to turn around," "to change direction," "a change of purpose." In summary, it means "turning around the use of something. Conversion then would be "the outward manifestation of regeneration." Regeneration means "re-gening" or "being born of new genes." Conversion then would become the outward change brought about by regeneration. It is God Who places in us the new nature and re-genes or regenerates us. Just as the good Samaritan took the wounded man to the inn and commissioned the host to care for him, even so upon regeneration the newborn Christian is to place himself in a New Testament church so that church and the Christians therein can be used by the Holy Spirit for the converting of a life that was used for self to be used for others, that was lived in sin to be lived in righteousness, and that was producing works of the flesh to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Conversion then is the work of the church and its members as they are led by the Holy Spirit to change the life and work of one who has been regenerated.Redemption is a work of God the Son. Regeneration is the work of God the Holy Spirit. Justification is the work of God the Father as He declares the sinner righteous in the Son. Conversion then becomes the work of the church as we change the use and purpose of a life. —Dr. Jack Hyles, 'Conversion And Salvation'; chapter 3 from his excellent book, 'Salvation Is More Than Being Saved'
Amen, that's great stuff!!!
Some Bible students errantly interpret this passage in Luke 19:1-10 to mean that people were saved by works (i.e., keeping God's law) in the Old Testament, since it says in Verse 8, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” The word “heathen” in this passage refers to the Gentiles. To the unlearned Bible student, it might appear that Jews were saved by works in the Old Testament, but this is not the case. Jews were saved by works, just like the Gentiles. We know this for a few reasons:
- People were always saved by faith alone - Acts 10:43, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” All the prophets (Moses until today) have preached free grace theology!
- If salvation were ever by works, then God would owe someone eternal life - Romans 4:4-5, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
- God is not a respecter of persons - Romans 10:12, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”
Galatians 3:9, “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” God's blessings have always followed a line of faith in the Bible. Jesus plainly warned Nicodemus (a religious ruler of the Jews) that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3b). There will be no exceptions!!! God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Do not think of our great holy God, to be a lying deceiver like unto mankind. God does not let His friends "slide." God does not play favorites (Romans 2:11). The only grounds upon which any human being has ever been, or ever will be, made righteous with God is by the precious blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (1st John 1:7; Revelation 1:5). The ONLY difference between the most respectable redeemed child of God, and the vilest low-life criminal sinner upon the face of the earth, is the precious blood of Jesus Christ “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1st John 1:7b). It is the blood of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Thank you Lord Jesus for dying for my sins!!! WHAT A LOVELY SAVIOR!!!
We must be careful not to read into the Scripture what is not there. NEVER make assumptions dear friend when reading and studying the Holy Bible. Proverbs 30:5-6 warns, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Please don't read between the lines. The best way to interpret the Bible is to let it speak for itself. Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) used to say that where the Bible is silent we should be silent. Dr. Rice was absolutely right!
One of the biggest Satanic lies which wicked men have added to God's Word, is the fabrication which requires people to turn away from sinful behavior to be saved. The inspired King James Bible repeatedly tells us that eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 5:18). It is free because Jesus paid for our sins with His own precious blood. 1st Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Someone this week asked me a sincere question. She is a Christian lady. She told me that she heard a pastor say that if you don't know you're saved, it is because there is sin in your life. I get so mad at lying preachers for scaring people with such nonsense. I kindly explained the following truths to the lady, my Christian friend, to comfort her worried heart:
- The unwise preacher who told her, that sin causes Christians to think that they're not saved, is wrong. That pastor ought not be allowed behind any pulpit.
- Every Christian, even the best among us, still sins every day. Arguably, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived was the great Apostle Pau. Yet in Romans 7:14-25 Paul openly shares with us his struggle with sin. Paul said the sins he wouldn't do, he does; and the good things that he would do, he doesn't. Paul says that when he would do good, evil is always still present with him, so that he is in a constant battle of soul. Paul concludes in Romans 7:24-25, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” One of my favorite sermons by Pastor Jack Hyles is called: 'The Good Man Versus The Spiritual Man,' which explains Romans 7:14-25.
- No matter how much a child of God sins, we still KNOW 100% that we are saved, because we are saved solely by GOD'S RIGHTEOSUNESS, not ours! Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” Romans 5:20-21, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Acts 13:39, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
By the way, notice the last part of Acts 13:39b, “from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Here is 100% Biblical proof that people were NOT saved by works in the Old Testament. As we just read, no one could be justified under the law of Moses. It baffles me how preachers like Peter S. Ruckman (1921-2016), William P. Grady, Robert Breaker and others, can be so woefully ignorant of God's plan of salvation. God has never owed anybody anything. Romans 4:4 plainly teaches that if Abraham had been saved by works, then salvation would have been a debt that God owed. God does not owe anybody anything! We are the degenerate sinners, God is holy and fair. Things were the same under the law of Moses. The ceremonial laws instituted by God through Moses for the Jews, did not supersede God's simple plan of salvation by faith alone in the Messiah (Acts 10:43). Hebrews 4:2 plainly says that the Jews in the Wilderness perished because of their lack of FAITH, not because they failed to keep the law. SHAME on any wicked preacher who foolishly thinks people were saved under Moses' law by works. Salvation has always been by faith alone!
If you will remember dear reader to always keep the Bible doctrines of sanctification (our growth in grace as God's children), versus justification (which is by faith alone in the Good News of Christ crucified on the cross, buried and bodily risen three days later), you will never go astray doctrinally. All these junk theology being taught today at Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, and in thousands of churches they infect with damnable heresy, about turning away from your sins to prove that you faith is genuine, is another gospel. Not one verse in the inspired King James Bible teaches to repent "OF YOUR SIN" to receive God's free gift of eternal life. A "gift" must be without compensation of any kind, otherwise is it a reward and not a gift.
When you hear some foolish preacher like Pastor Chuck Phelps (senior pastor of the Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana) preaching that if you don't have works, you're not saved, then you know that PASTOR CHARLES PHELPS IS NOT SAVED!!! How can he be when he attaches works to grace! Phelps errantly teaches that you are saved by faith alone, but if you don't do good works as a Christian it proves that your faith is not real. Folks, that is just the Devil's clever way of requiring works to get to Heaven. Works has NO PLACE in God's plan of salvation—neither before, during or after salvation. Good works simply shows how much you love Jesus (John 14:15), not if you are relying upon Him to get you to Heaven.
So if and when you have doubts and concerns about your salvation dear reader, it is only because you don't yet fully understand God's simple plan of salvation. I wrote a very helpful free book titled: 'SALVATION' (in .pdf format) to share my own painful emotional experiences with fear and worry about salvation. If you worry sometimes that you may not be saved, or do not have the 100% sweet peace and confidence that you are absolutely going to Heaven when you die, then I wrote this book for YOU dear friend.
God deliberately made His plan of salvation so simple, that even a small child can be saved, by simply BELIEVING (placing your trust, confidence in) the Gospel (Good News) that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He was buried, and three days later Jesus bodily resurrected from the dead (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). BELIEVE IT oh guilty sinner, and you will be immediately, irrevocably and forever born-again by God's Holy Spirit!!! You have God's promise of it!!! John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”