Updated: Feb 13
I am compelled to go on a bit of a rant. I pray that it will be a fruitful one. I've had some conversations with various Christian friends or acquaintances over the past week and it is astonishing to me that so many believers, pastors, and leaders in the Church are teaching people that there is nothing "to do" as it relates to our relationship with the Lord.
They will say things like...so and so came out of a previous church and got free from legalism. Say what?!? We have essentially made the call to holiness or any talk of righteousness a "false doctrine" by calling it legalism. I would like to make an attempt at setting something straight: 1. We are called to REPENT and believe THEN we are saved by faith in Jesus. It is a FREE gift that we cannot earn. At that moment we are JUSTIFIED because of Christ. However, from that moment on we are in a PROCESS of sanctification by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit which is God dwelling in us, revealing truth to us and teaching us through His Word which begins to transform our mind from the ways of this world to His ways. We ARE indeed called TO DO something. We are to make Jesus Christ the Lord of our life which means that we take ourselves off of that throne and submit to His authority over us. "...You are not your own; you were bought at a price... (1 Cor 6:19-20)
The last thing Jesus told His disciples was to go and make disciples teaching them "to do" all that I have commanded. Unfortunately, so many have a cafeteria-style doctrine. Meaning that they go through the Bible and pick a little of this and a little of that but leave the parts that don't suit the God of their feelings. We cannot make God into what we want Him to be. The Bible tells us what He wants and we don't need and shouldn't rely on a pastor alone or any leader, author or Christian influencer to teach you. "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him." (1 John 2:27)
We NEED to READ THE BIBLE FOR OURSELVES. It's too important! Jesus said that when you stand before the throne of God you will be judged according to His WORD. You won't be able to say well pastor so and so said. They won't be with you. And, we will be without excuse because we have His word readily available but so often choose to let it sit on a shelf unopened. It is our authenticating light. It is the only way you can discern lies or truth mixed with lies which is still a lie. "But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived." (2 Tim 3:13) I know we all need to love each other and I agree. But, read the list of attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Every attribute listed is achievable by any person in the world without a relationship with God. Here is the difference in the love of God. "For THIS is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3) This is not legalism!!!
It's not about going through a checklist of rules. The fact of the matter is this... when you truly get to know Him you fall in love in a way that compels you to desire to do what He says. It is out of love, not a burden. When I was young there were pastors in almost every Church (it seemed) preaching the fear of the Lord. Do you know what the Bible says about fearing God? "“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Prov 90:10) Some would call them hell, fire and brimstone teachers. The problem is this, they were teaching truth but they didn't teach a balance of love, grace and mercy. So, now the Church (in general, not all churches) has gone to the opposite extreme and teaches ONLY a message of grace and love. Hyper-grace and it's often taught with no call to repentance. Both extremes are the truth but we need them BOTH for a balanced gospel which is the absolute truth of the Bible. It's not one or the other, it's both.
I wonder what the apostle Paul would have to say to the Church of our day? Here is what he said to a church in his day "by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness." (Heb 5:12-13) I could go on and on but for the sake of the reader, I will bring this to a close. We are called to live a righteous life and to strive to overcome sin NOT sit in it and celebrate it! "Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn." (Isa 8:20) Don't listen to every fine-sounding argument make sure you read God's Word in the context, not just a verse here and there. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit." (1 Thes 4:7-8)
The Bible tells us that many people will be led away in error in the last days because they will only listen to what they want to hear and they will choose to believe a lie. It even says that many will "fall away" from the truth (Matt 24:10) "This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jer 6:16) The word of God can be offensive and I am ok with that. He is God and we are not. He is full of love, mercy, compassion, slow to anger. But, He is also just and His ways and right and true. He desires that we come into relationship with Him. He will take us right where we are but He will not leave us there... we have to be willing to follow. Here is the way to a proper relationship in Christ (according to the the example we have in the Bible):
1) REPENT - Repentance means to be sorrowful over sin, to renounce it and turn away from it.
2) BELIEVE in Jesus as the Son of God who died for your sins, rose from the dead on the 3rd day, ascended into heaven and is coming again to gather His Church/Israel
3)BAPTISM IN WATER
4) BAPTISM BY HOLY SPIRIT "Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
Pastors please stop trying to please your congregations and pray for the boldness to teach the truth, the full gospel of grace and TRUTH. People are starving for the truth. "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God." (Hosea 4:6) It was not legalism for Jesus to do everything His Father commanded Him. Nor is it for us! Ok, I'm done now. The End.