Going in the right kind of circles

Monday Musings for March 28, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

The congruent Christian life is circular. We are saved by God’s grace through our faith — and if it is grace, then it is not by works (Romans 11:6). But not only is faith without works dead (James 2:26), works are the reason God created us (Ephesians 2:10). There are no congruent Christians who are not doing good works.

Evangelicals are afraid that people will misunderstand what’s going on with their “good works.” They fear it looks like we are working our way to heaven. But we’ve got to drop that fear. Since our purpose is to do good works, that should be our priority... not what some people may or may not think about the doctrine of salvation. A congruent Christian lives out his or her faith.

A person who prays, studies, fellowships, and serves proves to the world that their faith is not merely a fire insurance policy... although don’t get me wrong. I love that we are eternally secure in our salvation! But that should not be why we got saved. We should have responded to God’s drawing (John 6:44) — but drawn to whom and to what? To Jesus and God’s purposes.

The problem is that we can trip over our methodologies. We’re taught to “steer” people to recognize their sins. But let’s take a lesson from the apostle Paul. When the Lord appeared to him, he did not “officially” acknowledge his sins — nor did he ask anyone for forgiveness. He declared that Jesus was Lord even before he knew who it was who was uttering those words! (Acts 9:5).

Now, don’t jump down my throat. I am not preaching Lordship salvation. Instead, I am telling you that — not only does the Bible present Jesus as Lord — he is never not the Lord in its pages. This means that although Jesus is our only Savior, he is not our Savior only. He is Lord — and he takes his Lordship seriously. He called people out who call him Lord but who did not do the things that he taught (Luke 6:45-46).

But many Christians do this type of thing routinely. They are happy being in the category of Christian... and just sit there. I get it that titles give a measure of comfort. But they do not prove a person’s essence or his worth. Jesus does not want nominal Christians. In fact, he doesn’t even want converts! He wants disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), and discipleship is hard (John 6:66).

How about you? Have you left everything to follow him... because that’s what he asks (Matthew 19:16-22)? Furthermore, that’s a reasonable request from a Lord. He taught us that we should “hate” our former lives and follow him! (Luke 14:26). The Lord wants your all. He does not want your some. But take heart, by faith we can do this!

Becoming Christlike is something to aim at — like the North Star. It is not something we should expect to hit. Conforming to Jesus’ image keeps us heading in the right direction — but end to end. Your local paths will vary. That’s what walking in the Spirit is all about (Galatians 5:16). It is walking through your challenges by faith... not reaching a destination.

 

(Click here to read the article referenced above. For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)