Friday, January 18, 2008

Confused about the Gospel

I was talking with a man about the gospel of Jesus Christ. God seemed to be drawing him and he was beginning to see the need of his heart for Jesus Christ. But I was disturbed by some things he said. Somewhere along the way someone in some church gave him some very bad ideas. To this man, being saved meant committing himself to trying harder to keep the rules, to make himself a better person. Here’s my question: When did Christianity become about keeping the rules? That’s not what Jesus taught, or Paul, or Peter. This poor fellow thought that if he wanted to get saved, he had to stop doing this and saying that, improve his attitudes and behavior, then Jesus would accept him and he could get his life in order. Where did he get an idea like that? I needed a shower the other night. I do from time to time. But I knew that I couldn’t get into the shower until I had first cleaned myself up. So I tried the best I could to sponge the oil out of my hair, to scrape the dirt off my body, and to chase away the odors that seemed to be following me around. Finally, once I got myself cleaned up, I was ready to take my shower. I know what you are thinking: this guy is a moron. You don’t clean yourself up before you shower. You get in the shower dirty and let the shower do its work. And you are right. It would be utterly foolish to do what I described in the last paragraph. But that is exactly what a lot of folks try to do spiritually every day. I have got to get my life in order so that I can get back into church and start serving God. I need to break a few bad habits, delete a few words from my vocabulary, and then I will be ready to come to God. That is as foolish as trying to clean yourself up before you shower. You don’t clean yourself up so you can come to God; you come to God so he can clean you up. It is the blood of Jesus that purifies us from our sin. I come to God “Just as I am, without one plea,” a guilty sinner who deserves only the judgment and wrath of God. I give my heart, my life, my body, my everything to him, trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord. When God saves me, he puts the Holy Spirit in me to accomplish his will. Holy is not the Spirit’s first name, it is his job description. He is the Spirit who is holy, and produces holiness in those he indwells. God goes to work inside me, changing my heart, my thoughts, my attitudes, from the inside out. The Pharisees were all about the rules. They had a rule for everything. To them, pleasing God was a matter of keeping the rules. Jesus called them “whitewashed sepulchers,” clean and bright on the outside but filled with death and decay inside. That is all rules have ever done – they enforce conformity on the outside and leave the inside filled with hidden sin – the stench of death. But Christianity is not about the rules, it is about Jesus. He takes me just as I am and then makes me into something totally new. By his power I have righteousness and holiness and power and purity. He produces in me what my new year’s resolutions never could – a genuine change of heart. “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s vein. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stain.”


Todd Bacon said...

Good stuff brother - thanks for posting.

Dee Ann said...

Yes, but what does he wash us with? Washing of the water of the word...Torah and the rest of scripture. No you don't have to obey to cross over into salvation, but when you believe you want to obey as the Torah is written on/ washed over your heart. There will begin to be fruit as evidence that the seed was planted.