Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two Ways to God...

I thought I'd get your attention with that title! "Two ways to God," you ask? "Uh, Mike, have you lost your senses or forgotten your Bible?" Not at all. Let me explain...and then I'll get to the point.

The Bible actually presents two ways to God. The first way is by keeping the law. Those who attempt to justify themselves by keeping God's law, will in the end be judged by the law. Another way of saying this is those who attempt to reach heaven by "being good" or "doing good things," will be judged by that same standard. Now before you set your eternal destiny on this path, consider a few things...

- If you plan to get to heaven by doing good things, then you are living by the law, and you will be judged by  the law.
- Breaking any part of God's law is the same as breaking all of it. In other words, it's not a "curve" or a "sliding scale." It's not a matter of making sure your "good" out-weighs your "bad;" (If I do 51% good things and 49% bad, I'm ok...NOT). Again, if you break ANY part of the law, you break it all. Someone arrested for speeding and another arrested for murder do have something in common; they are both guilty of breaking the law.
- God also makes it clear that those who break the law are on the path that leads to death.
- The biggest problem of all? Jesus. He comes and preaches the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, and there He makes it very clear that breaking the law is not just about our sinful actions, it's about our sinful hearts. It is our heart and our actions that makes us law-breakers.

In order to get to God and heaven by doing good things, you would have to live a perfect, sinless life (actions) with perfect, sinless motives (your heart). Only 1 person has done this...the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

But there is another way. Faith in Jesus Christ. This other way is easier, and harder. It relies totally on the grace of God, through His Son Jesus Christ. This other way admits sin, confesses it, and repents. This path comes before a Holy God NOT relying on the good you did, but relying on the blood of His Son to cover your sinfulness...your sinful actions, and your sinful heart. In fact, He takes away your heart of stone and gives you a new heart.

The point: Why did I take the space to write this post, which for many of us, is "Christianity 101"? Because when I look out at our American Evangelical World, and when I look in the mirror, I so often see a people who believe in the second option, but live our lives like the first option. We know and believe that salvation is only through Christ, and yet we're trapped in trying to be good enough and do enough good things to somehow earn God's love. We know we're forgiven, but somehow stuck. To you (and myself) we must remember this;

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:1-6)

One of the mistakes the Galatian church was about to make was submitting themselves to the rule of circumcision. The great danger was in doing that, they were falling into the trap of trying to attain a righteousness by works, and not by faith. In other words, according to Paul, circumcision was not necessary for salvation.

What about us? What traps do we fall into? What about you? Are you living in freedom, or bondage? Are you trying to earn your salvation? There is good news...

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1-4)

Praise be to God, through His Son Jesus Christ, who has saved us, called us, and given us hope and life!

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