a dangerous myth

i really wanted to be funny today, but i find myself  in a state of distress.

i have been saved (in the classic, evangelical sense) for many years, but i’ve only recently begun to come to a fundamental understanding of grace.  and the more i learn about grace, the more distressed i am about my ignorance.  as i’m beginning to see, the scariest part is that the alternative to grace is not innocuous or irrelevant, but malignant (to me, specifically, and to the body of christ, generally).

this past weekend, i got a chance to spend some time with my father-in-law: a man i admire and respect deeply.  for more than 40 years, he pastored little country churches while working a demanding, full-time job in the oil field.  but still, after decades of bible study and preaching, he is trapped in a legalistic, works-based system (“when i do this, god is pleased…when i do that, god is disappointed”) similar to the one that plagued the pharisees in jesus’ day.  at 88 years of age, my father-in-law stands on a mountain of accomplishments earned by means of great sacrifice and sincerity.  he said to me, “having come this far, i don’t want to lose out with god now.”  and in my mind i heard him say, “i can’t afford to undo all the good i’ve done.”  as if his good work is the reason god loves him.

any of us who has been church any length of time at all probably suffer (at least slightly) from the same malady.

that’s the malignancy i talked about earlier.  the simple biblical truth is that jesus did it.  all of it.  nothing else needs to be done.  no further price needs to be paid.  and the moment i allow myself to think that i can, by my striving, somehow endear myself to god then i become a victim of my own foolish pride. grace assures me that salvation is all about what jesus did, and yet i am so self-absorbed that i make salvation about something i did (or can do, or will do).  and then i compound my mistake by empowering a system that perpetuates the dangerous myth that i can make myself righteous.  say it with me: “it’s not about us.”

more on this topic tomorrow.  in the meantime, i’d love to hear what you think.

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3 thoughts on “a dangerous myth

  1. We are saved by the grace of God – it is a free gift (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8; Revelation 22:17).

    Yet, we are told to live a life worthy of the Lord and that we can please God (Colossian 1::8-14), that Enoch pleased God (Hebrews 11:5-6), that praising God, doing good and sharing with others pleases God (Hebrews 13:15-16) to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12), to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:11; 2 Thessaloinians 1:11) .

    We are told to give evidence of our faith (Acts 26:20; James 2:14-25).

    We are also told we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), that no one can snatch us from the Son’s hand nor the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). But at the same time, we know we have to persevere (1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 10:36; James 1:12; Revelation 2:3), to continue in God’s kindness (Romans 11:22;), to conitnue iin faith (Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 2:15), to continue to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).

    We have to remember that it is GOD who called us, who rescued us, who qualified us (Colossians 1:9-14).

    It seems to me that it is all about GOD. God called us. God qualified us. God rescued us. God. God. God.

    But we are to make daddy look good – make daddy proud of us as it were. Not because we can loose salvation (I think scripture shows we can not if we truly have it), but because He loves us and we love Him.

  2. I agree with you Randy. Very nice post. It is not for salvation that we do good works, it shouldn’t be about getting rewards or have anything to do about ourselves. I often hear Church messages that tell me to give so I can get back, or tell me to work so that I can be blessed back by God. The American idealism of God, seems to be very selfish.

    We do good for the sake of doing good. Jesus did not come down because he was going to get profit from being on earth. Jesus came for selfless reasons, not expecting to get anything in return. That is how we should live our lives, working for God for the sake of God. I believe that if you follow your true calling you will be blessed, but that is not why I follow my true calling. We all will have hard times and we must be able to follow God in the storm as well as the calm.

    Thanks for the post, I have been enjoying reading your stuff :).

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