Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 1
I wanted to talk more about how we are seen before God once we become saved – how He views us – and also want to discuss the practical, where the rubber-meets-the-road side of being a Christian.
It is very easy to simply break this down into a debate or discussion over the efficacy of the “once saved, always saved” (OSAS) theology. It normally causes difficulties for people because while some are willing to stake their lives on the fact that they believe salvation can never be lost once gained, others are just as sure that OSAS is a fallacy, born in the pit of hell itself. Clearly, those are the two extremes and there are plenty of people somewhere in the middle. While they want to believe that salvation is forever once secured, they really aren’t sure. These people often live in a world of doubts and frustrations because it is difficult for them to come to internal grips with what the Bible teaches. Sometimes they’re “pretty sure” of their own salvation, while at other times, they’re not. During those latter times, they exist under a cloud of guilt and condemnation.
The people who tend to err on the side of believing that a person can lose their salvation (but don’t know for sure) also suffer from fears and doubts. This causes them to think that they might always be working for it (to “maintain” salvation) or it will go away. What if they die in rebellion or in the midst of some sin from which they were not able to repent? According to their beliefs, they may well lose their salvation and spend an eternity apart from God.
These positions are not enviable. No one wants to doubt what the Bible teaches. The problem of course is that, like just about every other major or main biblical tenet, people simply disagree as to what the Bible teaches about OSAS. Some wind up simply throwing up their hands in utter frustration because there are too many voices with too many arguments for or against.
By the way, I realize that at the outset, I will not be able to convince anyone that my position is correct and theirs is wrong. In fact, I’m not even setting out to do that. You’ll either read this and agree with it – based on your understanding of Scripture – or you won’t agree with it – also based on your understanding of Scripture. If you disagree with my understanding, that’s perfectly fine. I hope you’ve done so because you’ve compared what I have to say with God’s Word and you believe it comes up lacking. I hope you don’t disagree with it simply based on your emotions because that is the worst barometer possible. If you think I’m wrong and you feel you can “prove” it from Scripture, that is fine. I will say right out of the chute that I have no interest in debating you about it. It’s really just purposeless. Instead pray that we both come to greater awareness of God’s meaning as evidenced in His Word.
I’ve spent my time debating other Christians about various aspects of the Bible, doctrine, and theology. It’s like anything else. Most people already have solid viewpoints about something and they resist seeing things differently. Most of us are like that. Try talking politics or sports with someone and you’ll get the same type of response. People who are on the left rarely agree with those on the right and the reverse is certainly true. A die-hard sports fan who has followed one particular team will not be convinced by someone who points out what appears to them to be flaws in either the coaching, the players, or both. Each person has to come to their own realizations in their own timing and way. Fortunately for us, God is really the One who oversees that. Sometimes, someone is open to a comment or suggestion by someone else, but if we’re honest, we’ll have to admit that this is normally not the case for us.
We don’t like hearing that we might be wrong. We don’t want to entertain the thought. Moreover, it is very difficult for people – once they see something one way – to see it another way. I don’t think I need to go any further than Nicodemus in John 3. Here was a leader of the religious life of Israel and he was unable to understand the most basic concept Jesus called the “new birth” or “birth from above.” I don’t think it’s because Nicodemus stood against the idea either. He simply lacked the ability at that point in his life to understand.
So fellow Christians, let’s all do ourselves a favor here. There is no one of you reading anything on this blog that has fully arrived. For the record, I have not arrived yet either and willingly admit that. We all have room to learn, room to grow, things to get rid of from our lives, and more of our lives to give to Jesus. We could all follow Jesus better, couldn’t we? We could all go over our own lives with far better fine-tooth combs asking the Lord to point out what needs to be excised from our lives, couldn’t we?
In short, not one of us is perfect and while we should help those who have slipped or fallen or who seem not to understand the basic truths of God’s Word, we must always be careful about how we act or react to those who we are trying to help. I have found that in my lifetime, it is often almost too easy to condemn people (including other brothers and sisters in the Lord) for what I perceive to be their failures. While I thoroughly believe we should be there for one another, we are not to be the one who beats another Christian over the head out of anger, spite, or judgment. We must refrain from that at all costs. We must be gentle understanding how incredibly easy it is to fall ourselves, speaking the truth in absolute love. If you (or I) cannot do that, we have no real business trying to set anyone else straight.
Love not only covers a multitude of sins, but it makes a person completely approachable. Others feel invited, they feel a sense of connection because of the attitude of the person who is offering correction. They don’t feel disenfranchised or put off. Yes, I’m aware of how Jesus acted often toward the religious leaders of Israel but these were people who had greater responsibility because of their positions of authority. In fact, there was no one else the common person could go to for direction. Yet, often, that common person was belittled, put off, made to feel less than, and embarrassed. I can see why Jesus would become angry with these men, but at this point in my life, I feel more comfortable with Him doing that than me.
I will readily admit that I am not loving enough. I do not yet possess enough of Jesus so that His love is spread through me. It’s not consistent enough. My life is not dedicated enough to Him. Yet, too often, I have concerned myself with arguing over doctrine, theology, and the Bible. That’s certainly important, by the way, and I do not want to make light of it. However, it’s very easy to become like a Pharisee when that’s all we do. Do you love perfectly? Do you love constantly, continually? Do you love people regardless how they hurt you, malign you, or even when they do their best to make your life miserable? I know that I do not.
Consider this the introduction to this difficult subject regarding our salvation. I would implore you to love, love, love people – especially our brothers and sisters in the Lord – more than argue with them. I promise to try to do the same. State your case. Present your beliefs. Leave it there. Don’t harass or harangue people. Think about something. If you run across someone whom you believe is dead wrong about something, do you think God wants you to spend your days trying to prove it to those you meet who stand across the aisle from you or do you think He is simply more interested in you accepting them for who they are, loving them in spite of their obstinacy and error, and simply being there for them as people? I don’t believe to love someone means to set aside error or a rebellious attitude in a person. It doesn’t mean accepting it. It does mean understanding when to shut up, continue to pray, and support them. We need to start seeing people as people who need the Lord. Even Christians (especially) need more of the Lord. Though we have Him via salvation, there is much we have not appropriated. Beating people over the head doesn’t cause that to happen.
I’m going to try to be as clear as I possibly can with respect to the salvation issue. I’ll probably come up short because though words have meaning and context supplies a good deal of that meaning, each of us lives within our own context and that, my friends, can often cloud issues that would otherwise be clear.
We’ll be back with part 2 as we wend our way through this topic!
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: always saved, imputed righteousness, once saved, righteous in jesus.