Rom 10:13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. Rom 4:5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.
I have been reading Tim Keller’s book, “A Reason For God”. I thought he made a point interesting enough and important enough to relate it on my blog site. So while I generally try to only blog thoughts mostly original with me, much of what I am about to say I owe to his book as I think he offers a fresh way to compare true Christianity with all false religions.
Any faithful preacher is quick to relate that there are only two religions and there has always only been two; grace or works. Either one tries to do something to earn God’s favor or as the Bible teaches, we trust in what Christ has done and not our own works. It is also no secret than many have tried to twist Christianity into a system of works for salvation rather than the gift of God in Christ Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church would be perhaps the prime example of this but certainly not the only one.
Many in modern times have tried to do away with the need of the cross altogether as an atonement for sin or tried to make it just an example of God’s love. To them the important thing is to follow Christ’s examples and teachings instead of seeing the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin received by faith. One can only think like this if one has no idea of how holy God is, what sin is and how sinful man is. In this scheme of things Christ’s value is not in his righteousness given to us as a gift but in that he has set an example for us to follow. In other words what Christ did was give us a law to follow and if we do our best, and in reality nowhere near our best, God will say, “All is forgiven, come on up to Heaven”. Once again it is just another system of law.
So what is going on here is that the Gospel has been twisted into just another false religion of human origin. In this system it then becomes possible to avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping biblical rules as much as by breaking them! In both cases one has completely missed out from taking advantage of what Christ actually did on the cross and so remains in one’s sins.
Another way of saying this is that there are two ways to sin and be self-righteous, by doing evil things or by trying to be righteous to earn God’s favor. Both actions are sinful because both disobey the command by God to believe solely in the finished work of Jesus Christ for your justification. To attempt to merit God’s favor and thus take some of the credit for your salvation is as much as a sin as murder. Thus one can be a sinner as much by trying to keep God’s laws as he is by breaking God’s laws.
Let me finish by quoting from Flannery O’Connor, “The best way to avoid Christ is to avoid sin. If you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you, then ironically, you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper but you are avoiding him as Savior. You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. You are trying to save yourself by following Jesus.”
Ironically this is a rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I trust no one reading my blog has confused the saving power of Jesus’ substitutionary work on the cross with trying to follow his example. One is Good News, the other anything but. It is not good news it is the worst possible news. To offer up your sin laden works instead of the righteousness of Christ will only offend God and make matters worse.
Better news is that once God saves us through faith by grace, he imparts a new nature so that we can do good but for all the right reasons.