Christianity should feel like "My chains fell off" not "I better not screw up."
— Justin Buzzard (@JustinBuzzard) August 14, 2012
A couple of days ago, it happened again… This time I ended up reading something on a danish Christian website, that irritated me so much, that I let it take away my joy, and partly ruin a bigger chunk of my day. It was supposed to be a devotional, but in no way did I feel any lighter after reading it. Instead I felt an extra burden put on my shoulders… again. Why?
Well… it was one of those yes grace, but… things. Yes. We are saved by grace alone, but… and then the focus changed to the life of the Christian, and the fruit that “has to be” in your life, if you are a “real” Christian.
I am sorry, but I am seriously tired of that nonsense.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt. 7:22-23)
Do you know why Jesus says “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” to the people in these verses? Take a look at verse 22 again.
On what ground did they think, that they belonged to Jesus? By works, and the fruit of their own lives, or by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone?
The problem with trying to justify yourself?
Even the best things we do have something in them to be pardoned.
Which means that, when you have repented of something bad you have done. There will then be something bad and imperfect in your repentance, that you need to repent of. And then there will be something in that repentance… well you get the picture. Gods standard is so high, that even when you think you are making it, you are actually not.
Steve Brown, in his book, Three Free Sins, in chapter 11 – a chapter about wolves, entitled, “Just Don’t Let Them!”, writes (about the wolves):
They fleece the lambs of God (that would be us), looking down their long spiritual noses with their peacock feathers flying in the breeze and saying things like, “After all that Jesus has done for you, one would think you would [you can fill in the blank]. You bring shame on the name of Christ. Jesus said that our works should indicate who we are, but your works for him leave much to be desired. Have you considered that you may not be saved?”
A little later in the same chapter, Steve Brown quotes Luther:
Martin Luther reflects Paul’s anger in his irritation with the wolves. He wrote:
“I believe that it has now become clear that it is not enough or in any sense “Christian” to preach the works, life, and words of Christ … as if the knowledge of these would suffice for the conduct of life … Yet, this is the fashion among those who today [1500s] are regarded as our best preachers … and such teaching is childish and effeminate nonsense.
Rather ought Christ to be preached to the end that faith in Him may be established that He may not only be Christ, but be Christ for you and me, and that which is said of Him and is denoted in His name may be effectual in us. Such faith is produced and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what He brought and bestowed, what benefit it is to us to accept Him … What person is there whose heart, upon hearing these things, will not rejoice to its depths and when receiving such comfort will not grow tender so that they will love Christ as they never could by means of any law or work?
There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means of salvation. These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. For the sake of liberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins … use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up.”
(Timothy F. Lull, ed., Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), 609.)
So the next time you hear a preacher, or read something written by someone, who calls himself/herself a Christian, and they somehow ends up pointing at your life, or some fruit that should be in your life, as a means to or proof of your salvation. Please, do one thing: RUN!
Run to Jesus. Cling to the cross. And know that we are saved ONLY by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. It has nothing to do with what we do. It has everything to do with Jesus, and what he did on the cross. And because of that, our chains fell off, and we are free!