Last week our Pastor made a statement that ought to be taken seriously by all of us, especially living within the” infected” church culture we find in America as well as in our own backyard. We’ve all probably heard someone make their claim of salvation through the Christian faith with words like “I prayed “the” prayer to become a Christian” or “I walked the aisle of my church and gave my life to Jesus when I was ____ years old.” As our Pastor commented, neither of those actions, at least in themselves, are necessarily biblical pathways to salvation. The pathway is a commitment to repentance, obedience and surrender.
I’m in no position to judge the authenticity of anyone’s salvation. There will be a Judge, but the job’s above my pay grade (and yours) and I wouldn’t want it anyway. And yes, I do wonder at times about the reality of someone’s salvation when I see how casually they apply the life and teachings of Christ to their own life. At this stage of life, I’ve pretty much put away my “yardstick.” I’ve moved beyond the role of a “legalistic judge” trying to gauge or measure a person’s spiritual genuineness and am now deeply motivated by concern and trepidation that the “faith” they practice may mean they have somehow missed the mark or haven’t understood what the call of Jesus is about.
There is nothing casual or partial about the commitment and surrender Jesus calls His followers to. If we grasp that we are in the process of a life transformation orchestrated by God through the Holy Spirit, we do not have the option to obey according to our preferences. Partial obedience is clearly disobedience. “Cherry picking” what to obey and where to follow Jesus or compartmentalizing our faith according to our desires is not the “way,” the “truth” or the “life” Jesus imparts to His followers. Jesus calls for a radical and renewed change of heart and mind only made possible by affirming Him as “Leader “or “Lord” in our lives.
This is why a clear understanding and appreciation of the gospel is critical to a believer. A “commitment” to Jesus is not a declaration that “I will immediately do all things well and according to His precepts,” but it is confirming I am “selling out” to a new system of thought and a new chain of command where grace “covers” my baby steps and eventual setbacks along the way. The apostles Paul, Peter and Jude all wrote strong warnings to Christians out of concern they might be drawn away from the truth by slippery teachers of false doctrine or by their negligence in knowing scripture. Strange teachings, corrupted use of scripture and ignorance have always been a threat to purity in doctrine and practice. We witness the impact of relativism in our culture. We had best not be blind to the “spiritual relativism” that is present within the church today which undermines our faith community and confuses those outside our faith as to what is true, enduring and pure “inside” the Christian faith.
Today we hear of and from “Progressives” in politics and Christianity. Just find the spiritual, even Biblical positions that positions that you like, the ones that meet your personal needs. Adopt the “rules” to live by that are respectable but not too demanding, ones that warm your heart with a feeling of “spirituality.” This is the route of religion, not Christianity. Does such thinking and living resemble the appeal of John the Apostle saying such things as “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.” (1Jn. 1:5-6 NLT) “We can be sure that we know Him ifwe obey His commandments. If someone claims “I know God” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 1Jn. 2:3-4NLT) “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. God’s love is made complete in Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” (2 Jn. 2:5-6NLT)
I regret if this article sounds harsh or legalistic. My intent as a fellow pilgrim is to make a “clarion call,” asserting the urgency of following Jesus according to His word, all of His word, with an appreciation for His grace as we mature and are transformed. Spiritual license is a dangerous cancer infecting current thought and practice. We must not be timid about calling sin what God calls sin, just as we must not ignore “speaking the truth in love” and being balanced with grace and truth. Think About It.