Friday, September 5, 2008

Real Christianity - Pt.5

Section Four: Faulty Thinking About “Good” Lives and “Good” Deeds as Substitutes for Authentic Faith

  • Goodness is no substitute for devotion. In its culturally defined forms, goodness can exist where love of God and passion for His glory do not. There is this mistaken notion that somehow God has a set of scales and our efforts in the areas we see as good need to balance our former actions that were bad. If the good outweighs the bad, we assume we are righteous. This is not the gospel.

  • Once your life has been invaded by the divine presence, He is able to change you from the inside out. The very fact that you struggle to be a person who reflects Christ’s character is a sign that your faith is authentic. Don’t give up. Don’t become weary of attempting to be the man or woman God calls you to be. Keep a sharp eye on your behaviour and never attempt to take the easy way out. … Let the Bible be your mirror. … Keep a careful eye on the world around you. Try to see it through the eyes of faith. The need is immense; the danger is imminent. This understanding should move us to compassion and action.

  • The acts of true faith flow from a heart devoted to God that continually is governed by the desire to know and do His will so that, ultimately, He will be glorified.

  • Above all, guard against the temptation to conform your mind to the level that would justify your behaviour. Keep your standards high!
Section Five: Other Problems with Cultural Christianity
  • In the Bible, actions are evaluated by a much more rigid standard. You will never read of a “little” sin. There are no “white” lies.

  • Because there is so little reverence for or sense of the holiness of God, we have no basis on which to take sin seriously. It is the understanding of the greatness of God that creates in the human heart the desire to please Him in all things and tries not to offend Him in anything.

  • God has a kingdom and Satan has a kingdom. Every person living on the earth belongs to one of these two kingdoms.

  • It seems we have forgotten that our work as Christians is to attempt to live according to the pattern Christ gave us and under the influence and enabling of the Holy Spirit. If this is not the primary task of the Christian, then what is?

  • It has been asked whether certain kinds of entertainment are appropriate for Christians. What would our response be if in every case we evaluated our decisions about our leisure pursuits by asking if our choices would demonstrate our love for God? Is there any way that we would engage in immoral or inappropriate kinds of activities when we are attempting to honour God and serve Him? When actions we would never allow in our normal interactions of daily life are part of some form of entertainment, something is wrong. The very values we seek to influence in a positive direction are intimately woven into the fabric of much of what passes for entertainment today. Much of the content of popular entertainment contains elements the Bible expressly forbids. Somehow, when it comes in the form of entertainment, we find it less offensive. In reality it is all the more dangerous.

  • The standard we are called to measure our giving against is the giving nature of God Himself. Jesus told us that we are to be perfect, as the Father is perfect. When that becomes our criteria and our measuring rod, it reduces all of us to a healthy humility. This kind of thinking is virtually unknown among cultural Christians.

Section Six: The Big Problem with Faulty Thinking About Christian Theology
  • The great distinction between Christianity and cultural religion is that cultural religion believes all these things can be obtained by our own efforts. True Christianity is looking for something much greater. True Christians look to God to restore the image of God to their soul but know that this is not something they are able to accomplish. All their hopes of attaining this rest on total reliance on the Holy Spirit who comes to indwell them when they open their lives to Jesus Christ. Notice the critical order here. Our change of behaviour does not PRECEDE our reconciliation to God and somehow become the CAUSE of God’s favour; it follows our coming into a relationship with God and is its EFFECT! It is by FAITH IN CHRIST only that a man or woman is made right in the sight of God; is delivered from God’s judgement and the hold of Satan; is adopted into the family of God; becomes an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ, entitled to all the privileges that belong to this high relation; is partially renewed to the image of the Creator in this life; and is totally renewed to the perfect likeness of Christ in the life to come, when we will experience God’s eternal glory and love, forever.

  • Having entered into this relationship, the true Christian then seeks to grow in his or her spiritual life by studying the Bible in order to understand the doctrines of the faith. In studying and contemplating the life of Christ, the true Christian attempts to model his or her behaviour after that of Jesus. It is the neglect of study of the Bible and reflection on the life of Christ that is at the heart of the practical errors of the majority of confessing Christians.

  • When we think we can atone for our sin by becoming good, it is like a slap in the face of Christ.
    If we are going to walk worthy of Christ, we have to practice one central discipline. As the writer of Hebrews exhorts, we are to fix our eyes on Jesus. We are to run our race LOOKING UNTO JESUS as our motivation.

No comments: