Saturday, July 31, 2010

A DISCUSSION OF LAW, GRACE AND GOOD WORKS

Brothers and Sisters:

Absolutely--good works will flow from our life in Christ.  We are called in Christ to a life of love and sacrifice for others.  As is made clear throughout the New Testament, these works will come from the power of Christ within us.  He is living in us, as we have died to self, and died to the rules and regulations of this world, and can now be free to live His life.  

As our Lord tells us, "If a man remains in Me and I remain in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."  (John 15:5)  As Paul reiterates in Colossians Chapter 2, we must no longer judge ourselves or others by any outside standards, including any law.  "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules..." (Col. 3:20,21)  

It is only Christ now.  It is only Him, working in us by His Spirit, empowering us to do the impossible, which is to love.  Truly love is the greatest miracle.  His love is so powerful and vast that it fills the universe, yet we struggle along under silly burdens, trying to please God by keeping this or that tradition or law.  The law was a shadow, the reality is in Christ. (Col. 2:17). 

So---my question to you is this, brother or sister.  

Is it possible to live a life of love and sacrifice without dying completely to ourselves, and living only to Christ?  

For there are many today in the churches who believe that we are saved, and then we do the good works, and those come in the form of religious duties, such as attendance, prayer times, Bible study times, supporting the church with a tithe of income, observing special days such as Christmas, Easter, etc.  Even being kind to those in need with gifts to charities.  

For instance, this allows us to think we are living the empowered Christ-life by "tithing" only 10%, which is one Mosaic standard of giving, when Christ now tells us that everything we have belongs to Him, and that we should give generously and cheerfully whenever we can to help anyone who needs us.  That standard is far higher than tithing, yet we persist in clinging to it, because we don't want the New Commandment.  We want the Old Commandments, because they are easier.  

Jesus illustrated this with the rich young man.  This fine young religious Jew had kept all the commandments his entire life.  Yet Jesus shocked him with a New Commandment:  Sell all you have and give to the poor.  Jesus was telling him, and telling us, that the Old Commandments of the Law, even if kept perfectly, could not save us.  His New Commandment was to love without limits, as He does.  That's why his disciples cried out in anguish, "How then can anyone be saved?"  They understood perfectly what He was saying.  And He confirmed it.  The New Covenant was impossible to keep by human effort.  It was only Christ in us, doing it by His power, that would suffice from now on. 

Many believe, and are taught outrightly or by implication, that this is the Christian life.  Such a sadness grips me about this, because I grew up believing that the "Christian life" was livable.  It is not.  Christ living in us is all that matters.  He does the good, He works the work of His Father in us, His Spirit is empowering us, but only if we lay aside all the other self-generated attempts to live some sort of acceptable life.  That is how Jesus Christ lived on earth, and how He teaches us to live.

What do you believe Scripture says to us about these things?

A. Brother

2 comments:

  1. Great dialog! Thank you............
    I am a foster parent to what the "system" calls the throw away kids, the ones who are very rebellious and defiant. they have gone through 10 to 20 homes in only months before we get them.
    working with the state we are not allowed to have "our religious views" shared with them (because it is Christ we follow) anything else they will let us share...so we preach to them the only way that is possible....
    BY BEING!
    by nature people are followers, and will follow by instinct, SO..... by being Christ (letting His presence show through us) our now dead man,
    we minister to these kids and they are becoming healed. This takes time and dieing daily on our part (unconditional love,) It's the relationship with Jesus we have that we give freely to them,
    UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!
    If you want a crash coarse in unconditional love, become a foster parent for teenage girls :)
    thank you,
    for a timely message, it is truly food.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Armon:
    Blessings on you for loving these kids with the love of Christ. This unconditional, absolute love from His heart has no beginning in law, that's for sure. Today in the churches, and in many new sects springing up, they are teaching a return to law in one way or another. And law never created anything but pride and sin. It is Christ in us, as you have said, that brings grace, love, mercy, and all the other fruits of the Spirit of God. And "being Christ" will bring these little ones to God, not any adherence to rules, regulations and laws.

    ReplyDelete

Please give me your honest response.

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