Sunday, September 19, 2010

Solution Sunday #1

Yep, it's  here.  The first solution Sunday.  I was planning to write about something a little different, but during church, God led me a little different direction.  So here goes.

So the problem to be solved is this:  Is it legalism or is it grace when it comes to the Christian life?  This was covered extensively in our Sunday School class at church.  So many of us are taught in church that legalism is it!  We have to follow a long list of rules in order to be saved.  We have to try harder.  We have to succeed.  And shat happens?  WE FAIL!

  That's what we look like.  We set the high standards of living a successful Christian life, and then we break the rules, and we try again.  We break the rules, and we try again.  Before long, we are just like this person.  And we are so far down in the quicksand that there really is no hope for us.  Why?  Because the Christian life is not about rules and regulations!  It is about grace!


Oh, it sounds so good, doesn't it?  We really can't do anything in our own strength.  In the flesh, we cannot please God.  We are only sinners saved by grace.  But that is not the message of most churches.

Let me give you a story.  My mom has been a strong Christian most of her life.  Oh, she wavers here and there, but there has never been a question concerning her commitment to God.  She and my dad used to attend a church that essentially stopped preaching the gospel message.  My mom could not go any more.  My dad continued for years because he loved being a part of the choir.  So he went with out her, and my mom stayed home.  She continued to teach Bible studies and be as active as she could in serving the Lord.

Last summer, I moved out to the town where they now live.  They had not found a new church home, so I went on the hunt and found what I thought was perfect for us.  We began going, and all of us liked it.  We went through membership classes, and I made the decision that God wanted me there.  So did my dad.  I believed God wanted me to join the church.  My dad was also certain.  My mom didn't mind being a part of the church, but she didn't see the point of going through formal church membership since it is not mandated in Scripture.

What I did not tell you is that our friend from England came in the late fall, and my mom's church attendance dropped off.  Martin is not saved, and she did not feel right going to church and leaving him  to do all the work.  She also didn't like going with my dad since he is a hypocrite when it comes to the church.  He acts like the perfect church member when he is at church, but then he acts completely differently outside of church.  But that's another story.

I joined the church.  Martin went back to England.  Mom and Dad applied for church membership this summer, and my mom was denied church membership.  Why?  Because her church attendance had been sporadic during the time that Martin was here.  The church never questioned why she was not coming.  We later learned that was due to my dad, but that's another story.  Essentially, the church questioned her salvation because she was not attending church as often as she should.  It made no difference that she was working around the house and doing work that really needed to be done.  It only mattered that she was not in attendance.  It made no difference that she had now returned to her normal church activities.  She would not be allowed to become a member unless she could  guarantee that when Martin came back, she  would regularly attend church.  My dad and I were looked upon as being exemplary because we attended church regularly.  It made no difference how my dad lived outside the church.  And it made no difference that I was somewhat involved with an unbeliever and sometimes stayed home from church to help him.  Because my mom had a pattern of skipping church while he was here, she was not considered a good Christian.

So what is the solution?  Is it legalism or grace that saves us?  If it's legalism, I can guarantee that  I will never be able to measure up.  If they only knew what I say to my dad or how I sometimes miss my regular devotional  time.  If they only knew that  I tried to entice an unbeliever to marry me a little over a year ago.   If they only knew that I don't agree with their treatment of my mother and considered leaving the church and never returning.  And if they only would listen to their own teaching!  

The solution is the CROSS! We are saved by grace and can do nothing apart from Him.  We can't be good enough.  We can't follow the law to the letter.  Our righteousness is as filthy rags when it is done in our own strength.  In order for someone to join a church, I believe the criteria should be--does that person believe that Jesus is who He said He was, and have they made a decision to follow Him?  Who are we to mandate what Scripture  does not mandate.  Yes, I know it does talk about meeting together as Christians, but it does not say we have to do it so many times.  And it does not say we have to do it in order to be saved!!  

So what do you think?  Are you living your life as a sinner saved by grace or a sinner saved by works?  Don't let the enemy have a foothold here.  He will come at you with all sorts of lies that tell you that you will never be good enough to be saved.  Why not take God at His Word?  "For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast"  Ephesians 2:8-9

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