First, I'm compelled to give an open "Thank You"! to all those who labor to keep this site active (may God continue to bless it) and God's blessings to your Families!
In the last thirteen years of my thirty-six year Christian walk I have been studying dispensation doctrines from theologians of the last few centuries and have found them to be as applicable to spiritual growth in Christ and as faithful, accurate and sincere to the truths of Scripture that can be expected. It has recently come to my attention that many earnest truth-seeking Christians have been unaware of the spiritual-growth teachings available within dispensation doctrine and I want to encourage you to, “try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets (and teachers—emphasis mine ) are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Let all teachings be put to the litmus-test of Scripture!
One prime example of concern is that there is a significant number of Christians opposing the Scriptural truth related to receiving salvation pertaining to the essential doctrine of “Justification by Faith Alone, in Christ Alone.” To understand this is pertinent to spiritual growth, as Scripture teaches that the receiving of salvation is a monolithic work of God, apart from any interjections of man. Scripture also teaches that regeneration will eventually manifest itself by “good works” (Mat 5:16; Jam 2:18). Even though true works will follow the believer, we must be clear they have no effect as to the retention of salvation, considering this can only be maintained in the same manner it is received—by Grace (Jude 1:24).
It is acceptable to have differing beliefs concerning non-essential-for-receiving-salvation doctrine, but there should not be variances concerning essential-for-receiving-salvation doctrine. The entirety of Scripture is clear in revealing that salvation comes by “Faith Alone, in Christ Alone.” This is due by “Grace” alone; therefore any alteration of this truism will only consign one to the un-restful taskmaster of “Legalistic Covetanism”, which is salvation by works (salvation evidenced by works is accurate - Jam 2:18) and is a one-eighty degree comparison to salvation by grace (Eph 2:8, 9).
“By Grace—Through Faith” is Scripture's sole proponent when revealing the method of entering Salvation; thus, transposing this order of terms (i.e. by faith instead of "by grace") is failure to understand and faithfully represent Scripture, leaving one to the destitution of his own interpretation. Since receiving salvation is “not by works” (Eph 2:9) it mandates the categorizing of “faith” as a gift of God. Concerning works and justification, Strong’s dictionary defines justification (G1344) in two categories (below); each containing a variant definition which, of course, is in accordance with contextual usage. Justification in reference to man’s work designs the concept of an outward manifestation of an inward, simultaneous work of grace. The crux of the matter is not to attempt to desire any personal credit because, "in all things He has the preeminence" (Col 1:18).
1. To render righteous (“justified by His blood” Rom 5:9). This is prior to any work of man (other than reception) and is simultaneous with salvation, because the believer cannot produce the righteousness of God, but rather Christ is, “made unto us . . . righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).
2. To show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous. (“by works a man is justified” Jam 2:24). This is God working through man, to be seen by man—after receiving salvation; “that they may see your good works” (Mat 5:16). The phrase “your good works” are actually still God’s works being evident to others by Him using us.
The primary availability for the Holy Spirit’s teaching (1 Cor 2:13)?--Neighborly love first and doctrine second because we love God the most when we love our neighbor first (1 John 4:20).