Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Gospel-menical Church - Part III

I continue seeking a Gospel-menical life. Those of us who claim Christ and the Christianity believe we have been redeemed and have been saved from something. That is the claim anyway. I am afraid that the answer to this question has had a shift; mainly because of a culture that has decided that having an answer to any question has become arrogant.

I believe the answer to the question, "What are we saved from? What are we redeemed from?" is sin and death. I believe it is that simple because of what I read all throughout the gospels and especially what Paul tells us in Romans.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." -- Romans 8:1-4 (ESV)
I hear more than ever this claim that our soteriology cannot be about saving us from hell in the future, but that it brings heaven to earth. It is difficult for me to find that in the Scriptures when I read the passage I just quoted from Romans. We are sinners. There will not be heaven on earth until Jesus Christ returns in glory to bring His Kingdom with him.

If you can replace Christ, Jesus, or Christian with any other religious or spiritual group or organization, it is not be the Gospel. Here's an example of things I have heard people say our duty as Christians is not a direct quote, but representative of many things I have heard:
As Christians, we can work for change in the world. Caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness; a hopeful outlook. We can bring the Kingdom of God here to the world now.
Replace "Christians" with any other words: Buddhist, Muslim, follower of Oprah, the "One" organization, communist, friendly, political, an upstanding member of the community, etc. Are these intrinsically good things? Some are, absolutely. Are they the Gospel? No.

[Side-note that bears including: my friend Dave brought up recently at a great camp that the Insane Clown Posse Juggalos (fans of ICP) go and do service projects in their communities. If you want to look up who those people are, please take the time to Google them but I warn you it is NSFW. You'll understand my previous points better if you do it, but you'll need a mind bath afterward.]

Those things like caring for one another and the poor are very well fruits of our Christ-likeness, but none of these things sets us apart as Christians from the rest of the world. What sets us apart is our willingness and desire to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow only Christ.

I have friends who aren't part of a church say things like, "the church is not representative of who I want to be as a Christian." and, "I know lots of good people who aren't Christians."

I don't think that I am a Christian so I can be a good person. I am a Christian because I am a sinner who has no hope without Christ. In that, the church represents Christianity very well. We are all in need of a Savior who saves us from ourselves. Leaving the church because there are broken people there isn't the answer, it is arrogance because apparently you can do it on your own.

Try replacing Christ in this next statement:
"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..." -- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (ESV)
It is very difficult to do (I would say impossible). It worries me that many have changed the Gospel of Jesus Christ for something that is akin to moralistic, therapeutic Deism in order to look good to culture. They don't fit together.

It has never been and will never be arrogant to say that I know my Redeemer lives. Jesus Christ saved me and He can save you too.