Sunday, 2 March 2014

A WALK IN THE PARK?

Some compare the Christian life to a walk in the park. They say everything is by faith. You just have to believe in what Jesus has done for you at the cross. Anything more than that smacks of self-effort, pride and legalism. Is it true?


Confusion and muddled thinking result when we lump together two different processes. Justification which is through faith and faith alone. And sanctification which is a life-long process whereby we die to self, submit to God, renew our minds and work out our faith.

No right thinking believer disputes the fact that we are saved by faith. What is crucial is that which follows. What’s next? Genuine faith has to be evidenced by works: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26). Paul echoes this need for personal responsibility—to work out our faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

A world of difference exists between ‘work for’ and ‘work out’. Author J. Oswald Sanders draws an analogy between salvation and an estate. We do not have to feverishly work for an estate. We have already been given an estate. But we have to work it out—develop the estate’s hidden resources.

                                                                            
If we believe that we do not have to work out our faith, then we will have to cut off the following verses from our Bible:

  • Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13


  • Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14


  • Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27


  • Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10


  • Bear fruits that befit repentance and don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8


  • Narrow and hard is the way to life: Matthew 7: 13-14

In view of the above references, the Christian experience is definitely not a walk in the park.

The teachers and preachers who like to sugar coat their messages make it sound so easy.

Be open-minded. Read the Bible for yourself and don't swallow their teaching hook, line and sinker.

                                                                     
It never was easy even for apostles Paul or Peter, the main protagonists in the New Testament. What makes you think the Christian life we're supposed to live out is a walk in the park?

You have to decide for yourselves which path you would takethe broad and easy way or that which is narrow and hard. Do not allow your eternal fate to be swayed by sugar-coated messages that are contrary to what the Bible says.

“It would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to “yield themselves” up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.” 
Michael L. Brown, Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18).

REFERENCES

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1: 5-8).

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1: 10).

Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham” (Luke 3:8).

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7: 13-14).

RELATED POSTS

WHAT IS NEXT?
It is true that we receive God’s grace (salvation) through faith, not works. But, then, what comes next? God is looking for fruit: Changed lives, repentance and obedience, all of which does not nullify at all the grace we receive by faith. 


ENJOYING GOD’S FAVOUR: UNMERITED AND MERITED
It’s great to experience God’s unmerited favour. But we must not stop there. Have we come to a point in our faith walk when we say to ourselves, “Thank you God for taking me as I am,” and then happily go on our way? After all, as some teachers say, believers always enjoy God’s unmerited favour—grace beyond measure—whatever we do or don't do.
http://bit.ly/1WorXxK

IS GRACE NULLIFIED THROUGH OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW?
To hyper-grace proponents, it seems that the Christian life ends at justification: Now we can relax, we have bought our ticket to heaven, all is safe, we need not do anything as obedience nullifies grace.
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