House Church Talk - Essay
rebelfire at juno.com
rebelfire at juno.com
Fri May 7 20:11:09 EDT 2004
"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I
say?" (Luke 6:46)
Can anything be more paradoxical than professing Christians not
following the words of the One they claim as their savior? But such is
the sad state of affairs in this Western civilization that, we are often
told, was built upon a "Judean-Christian ethic." In a 2001 study by the
Barna Research Group, 60% of all American adults agreed that, "the Bible
is totally accurate in all its teachings"45% agreed strongly, and the
remaining 15% agreed somewhat. Yet if the 45% strongly believed, rather
than just strongly agreeing, the face of this nation would be radically
different. Millions of people profess to know and to follow God, but when
it comes down to believing Him enough to follow His instructions and
examples, they deny Him (Titus 1:16).
Although it would be rare to find it officially stated, there is an
understated and understood idea in Protestantism that Jesus Christ's
death is more important than His life, either before or after His
crucifixion. Christ's death is focused on because of what it
accomplishedforgiveness of sin and justification. But by taking this one
event out of context, and allowing it to overshadow both Christ's earthly
ministry and His service to us now as High Priest, Mediator, and
Intercessor, the result is a great deal of intellectual agreement, and
very little true belief.
This disproportion is often revealed in topics such as Christian
obligation, works, God's law, and especially the seventh-day Sabbath.
Protestant theologians put a dividing line at Christ's death to use in
determining what instructions are still binding. But in doing so, they
essentially throw Jesus Christ's life and teachings right out of the
picture. It matters not a whit to them that Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath
(Luke 4:16) and said that it was made on account of mankind (Mark 2:27);
the Protestants protest that there is not a direct command, after
Christ's death, that Christians should keep the Sabbath day.
Never mind that Christ states that He did not come to destroy the law
(Mat thew 5:17-19), that He will reject and destroy those who practice
lawlessness (Mat thew 7:23; 13:41-42), that keeping His commandments is a
requirement (though not the means) of entering into life (Mat thew 19:17),
and that loving God and keeping His commandments are inextricably bound
(Mat thew 24:12; John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10; I John 5:2-3; II John 6).
These, and many other teachings, are still somehow considered to be "Old
Testament." Appeals instead are made to the writings of Paul, as if his
wordoften misunderstood, at thatsomehow trumps the Word.
The practice of putting a line of demarcation at Christ's death
essentially invalidates everything He said and didexcept dying for our
sins. It is as if Jesus Christ's example and teaching were only relevant
for 3 ½ years, and now we are saved by Paul. The truth, though, as trite
as it sounds, is that followers of Christ are going to...follow Christ!
And they are going to follow Paul...as he followed Christ (I Corinthians
James states emphatically several times that faithbeliefwithout works
is dead. A system of belief that does not produce corresponding and
fitting behavior has no life in it. Belief produces obedience; disbelief
produces disobedience. It is easily seen that anyone who rejects the
example and teaching of Jesus Christ, disbelieves Him. They are willing
to accept His perfect sacrifice, but unwilling to accept the life of
obedience that follows.
The bottom line is that carnal man believes what he wants to believe, or
what he has grown up believing, rather than what God says directly
through Jesus or through the inspired writings of His apostleswhich do
not contradict Him. There is a large measure of fear involved in changing
one's ways and submitting to God's Wordfear either of what it would cost
the individual, or fear of what others would think. This is why Jesus
says, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross, and follow Me" (Mat thew 16:24; Mark 8:34). It takes
personal sacrifice to worship God "in spirit and in truth", and many
simply disbelieve the One they claim to follow, and much of the rest
Bible, because of what it would cost.
- David C. Grabbe
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House Church Talk has been renamed. These discussions, via the web, now occur at the Radically Christian Cafe.