January 31, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
What is Synergistic Theology? Well, synergy means a “Joint work toward a common end.” (Word Perfect Thesaurus). Synergistic Theology is “The doctrine that human effort cooperates with divine grace in the salvation of the soul.” (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedic College Dictionary).
Human effort is working your way into heaven – into enough favor with God to have Him accept you – or trying to work your way into God’s favor! There are some problems with such thinking:
• If we could work our way into God’s favor, how many good works would that take? It is like climbing a very tall ladder of which you can’t see the top. How many rungs do you have to climb before you get there?
• In Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) God says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags….” If our “…righteous acts are like filthy rags…,” where do the unrighteous acts come in on God’s scale of acceptance?!! If this one verse is true – and it is, and there are many more on the same subject in the Bible – then that leaves us in a terrible state – if we have to work our way to heaven!
• What is God’s standard of goodness? In Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Who can be as perfect as God? Is it any wonder that Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
• In I Corinthians 1:29 (NIV) it is written “…that no one may boast before…” God. But if it was a matter of working our way to heaven, once there one might say, “I did such and such to get here!” And then another might retort, “Is that all? Well, I did this, that and the other thing to get here! So I did more than you!” Who gets the glory? People! But if it is by God’s grace alone offered through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross, then all we can do in heaven is fall down before Him and give Him the glory!!!
It is written in many places that salvation comes by grace alone, excluding our works! Here is a sampling:
• Romans 4:5 (NIV) – …the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
• Romans 11:6 (NIV) – …if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
• Galatians 2:16 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
• Ephesians 2:8 and 9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
And here is our featured scripture – Titus 3:3 though 8:
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various
lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy
He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Spirit; whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our
Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs accord-
ing to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want
you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful
to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
This puts grace first and only to save anyone! And it is open to everyone! And it also puts works in its proper place – after believing in God, works must follow in the life of the Christian!
But back to Synergistic Theology – The only thing accomplished by adding our works to God’s grace to procure salvation is that combination will be totally ineffective! Synergistic Theology does not work!
The opening lines of the third verse of the original version of the hymn, “Rock of Ages”, written in 1763 by Augustus Toplady, read thus: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling….” So come with your hands empty, claiming no good works! For nothing could ever deserve God’s grace! Just reach out in faith to the One who died to save you – Jesus Christ.