Sunday, August 22, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 8

Too many search for salvation that drifts away from Jesus under the unspoken (or even unrealized) assumption that humanity exists in an “as-is” condition. To explain: there was no Fall, no breach between us and God that God Himself must reconcile if we hope to return to Him. Or, if there was a Fall, we are not without innate righteousness that can be refined and magnified, via works and/or obedience. Christ is demeaned simply because we neglect and forget the necessity of obtaining His righteousness by grace through faith via the new birth. Only Christ’s righteousness is an acceptable righteousness to be clothed in before a holy God.

Church attendance, ordinances and liturgy, mantras and “gifts”, even the Lord’s Supper and baptism are works; God isn’t looking to make us righteous through a process or effort, or to refine our own righteousness: He’s looking to bestow upon us a righteousness that we utterly lack. He gives this to us when we are guilty sinners, and declares us justified due to His Son’s perfect sacrificial death on the cross and triumphant resurrection. Observing the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and baptism have been commanded, and performing these commands joyfully is a testimony of the salvation we possess when we believe. But it is Jesus alone who is the confidence of our hope. He is the hope of our salvation; not our works. Remember the thief on the cross? Luke 23:43. Jesus did, and that man entered Heaven without any works under his belt; he entered because he believed, and his faith was accounted for righteousness, Genesis 15:6. “Accounted” in the Hebrew can mean, “credit someone,” or “impute something,” which is a forensic term that describes how a man is legally justified by God throughout Scripture; see Romans 3:28; 4:3.

John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God (the object of our faith), that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God,” 1st John 5:13. What we believe is so much more important than how much we believe. John stressed knowing; as did Paul: “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day,” 2nd Timothy 1:12. Knowing implies reliance on sound doctrinal teaching. In the pages of the Bible we have all that we need for “life and godliness,” 2nd Peter 1:3.

The Trustworthiness of the Bible (Isaiah 8:20; 55:11; 2nd Timothy 3:15-17; 2nd Peter 1:19-21)
The Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God in faith and practice; it is the written word. The Living Word (which is Christ Jesus) and the written word are indivisible, Hebrews 4:12-13. Thus, it is not to be meddled with (taken from, altered, “lost” books added, etc.)

Church is devolving into a social recreation, with little emphasis on digesting the word and extracting spiritual truth; denominational boundaries seem to have become social markers for polite conversation on Sundays between sermons. Church attendance and moral living means nothing to God without new life in us. Our faith resides not on human wisdom, but in God’s power (1st Corinthians 2:5); most wonderfully demonstrated by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Only someone who possesses the Spirit of God via the new birth can receive anything of the mysteries of God, 1st Corinthians 2:10-12. If you have not been reborn by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you are what Paul refers to as the natural man: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1st Corinthians 2:14. Church attendance and Bible knowledge do not equate into a right relationship with God. Faith is required; knowledge must be mingled with faith or it avails nothing. The new life given through faith makes one a child of God and a Christian; nothing else. Do not make the mistake of Rome; do not trust a priest or minister to shepherd your soul as if they have power to open or close Heaven. No; God calls on every man and woman everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, Acts 17:30-31.
To be Continued.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ian, thanks for visiting my American Midnight blog. You mentioned you have a Fantasy novel, that's great! I have another blog that's more focused on Christian fantasy...

    I really like the posts you have up. I perused several of them. Your fellow employees at Subway must be blessed by the fact that you're clearly a Christian in word and in deed.


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