Friday, June 01, 2012

Which Camp Do You Claim

Which Camp Do You Claim?

There are many believers who can Biblically defend the doctrine of grace, but never find a place for it in their hearts or exhibit it in their lives. Among the believers who hold the Scriptures as God’s Word, there are in general two camps which have in them adherents who hold to an extreme point of view. So each camp is affected and infected by these extremist views. And how these camps define Christianity and the Christian life defines them. Both camps embrace salvation by grace through faith, however both camps have much different views about how a life can be discerned as Christian.

Let us be clear, God’s grace does not condone sin, but grace forgives and redeems sin. And that glorious process takes place by faith alone in the Lord Jesus and His finished and exclusive work, and all of it without one single shred of human works. In fact, like adding arsenic to a healthy meal, when human works are added to God’s redemptive work, it poisons it and renders it ineffective and vacuous. That is some serious business.

Now there are definitely some outward signs that reveal such a dramatic inward transformation when a sinner become born again. Some lives are initially and dramatically changed, while others seem to exhibit a process. But all lives should exhibit some change if they have been redeemed and inhabited by God’s Spirit. But how we measure these changes and how we assess a person’s salvation experience varies greatly between the afore mentioned two camps.

One camp tends to give a wide latitude while the other camp tends to a stricter evaluation. And within each camp there are variations of perspective as well, but for the purpose of this post I have clumped them into two general camps. Again, for purposes of identification, one camp might be called “easy believism” while the other might be called “legalistic”. Both camps have some credible points but both camps also exhibit some unbiblical liabilities as well.

The path to accurately balance grace and truth is a lifelong journey which usually see us struggle with different levels of both. Sometimes when we valiantly uphold truth, we are prone to wander into legalistic territory. And sometimes when we valiantly uphold grace, we are prone to wander into compromise territory. These are not easy and clear cut territories, especially when our perspectives are not absolute. To be always completely sure of yourself is an open door to self righteousness. I have often found myself cloaked in the garments of self righteousness even when I am standing upon God’s eternal truth.

Humility is an elusive fruit, and its nectar is rarely sought in these days of self elevation and bold assertiveness. Even within the church, and many times emanating from the pulpit itself, humility is swallowed up in self righteousness. Do not ever thing we can be clothed with humility once and assume it will last even for another day. Self righteousness stalks us relentlessly, and without doing spiritual sentry duty, self righteousness can set up its tent within our hearts while claiming to be a bold stand for truth. I have often been exposed as a hypocrite by God’s Spirit even though I thought I was defending His honor.

The authentic path of discipleship is paved with humility. We cannot expect to have His life exhibited through us if our own flesh is involved. And yet that same discipleship path is also lined with God’s truth. And there you have it. It is not enough to be humble since men like Gandhi exhibited humility. And it is not enough to embrace orthodox truth since the prodigal’s brother is an example of that. And that renders the path to discipleship as one of daily prayer and meditation, and a sincere and even painful inventory of our own hearts before we can humbly correct others. And since we live in a culture that is diametrically opposed to all things in Christ, our path is one of self denial and sacrifice.

But there are those who refuse to completely align themselves with God’s Word. In fact, they treat God’s Word as a narrative and a compilation of good sayings and suggestions. They sometimes show grace, but often times they are prone to a sloppy gospel which does little more than address earthly problems and humanitarian concerns. These people are dangerous, and although some could still be called Biblical, there are others who continue to stray from any truth that seems unpleasant. And when someone has a winsome personality and effective communication skills, well then that person leads others astray.

It is no small task to believe and stand for the truth of God’s written revelation while simultaneously allowing the Spirit to bring your own life into Scriptural compliance. Often is the case where someone rails at those who alter God’s Word but do it in a way that is antithetical to the Scriptural outlines for speech and conduct, to say nothing of the example of our Master’s life. This is very sad and in the long run is counter productive to the kingdom of God.

The core issue is whether or not there are two eternal places in which the spirits of men dwell forever. And these two places, one very bad and one in God’s presence, are eternal. And we must believe this revelation, as well as believe that only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can a sinner’s spirit find an eternal dwelling place with Christ. And if a sinner’s sins have never found redemption through Christ and by faith, then that sinner is lost forever. It seems as if that debate is what ultimately separates those who believe the Scriptures and those who manipulate it for their own fleshly designs.

These unscriptural views are spreading like wild fire in the western evangelical community. People love to hear about achieving success and embracing all the allurements of this present life, and they recoil at anything that suggests sacrifice and self denial. And gone are the days when we could perceive a person’s relationship with Christ by his desire to live holy and an uncompromising pursuit to know Christ more deeply. The measuring stick is now earthly success and material gain. That is not Christianity.

But having said all that, I exhort you not to be in any “camp” but His. The Corinthian church had divided loyalties to different men. That should never be. Our Captain is Christ, and to Him alone do we give our allegiance. We must not only defend Gods truth, but we must also live it. God’s truth is not a walk through a Scriptural museum. It is a living and breathing power that transforms hearts and lives. We should not just exegete the epistles, but we should be living and walking manifestations of those epistles.

Many have said that our lives should substantiate what we teach. But I see it somewhat differently. What we teach should be what we live. You see, what we do IS what we believe, everything else is just some religious talk.


Lisa Brabant said...

Oh, I'm going to write that down -

What we do IS what we believe. Everything else is just religious talk.

That would be great on a t-shirt.
Just kidding.
No - that's really great. I really like that and will teach that to my daughter...and pray that I can live it out.

Steve said...

A second "Amen" to "what we do IS what we believe." Good gloss on "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

AMEN also to: "Do not ever think we can be clothed with humility once and assume it will last even for another day. Self righteousness stalks us relentlessly, and without doing spiritual sentry duty, self righteousness can set up its tent within our hearts while claiming to be a bold stand for truth."

Whatever the Puritan's faults, they rigorously emphasized the Christian's duty of self-examination: "spiritual sentry duty."

In Jesus, Steve

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, Steve, the Puritans were humble and self deniers, and yet leagalists. That was some feat! I benefit from many of their writings.

Anonymous said...

Good article. It's so true that humility doesn't last another day. Been there done that :( That's why we need to be grounded in God's Word and pray.

God Bless,