Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who's In Who's Out?

How many times have you had a discussion about what is essential to salvation? It's usually dealing with baptism, though for some, it can be about music, bread before wine, or essentiality of Wednesday evening Bible classes. For TOO many, it's about "I'm right and I'm saved, and your not because you're not doing or believing what I do."
There are two questions that everyone must confront before they start drawing lines in the religious sand. First, is there such a thing as a non-essential command? Second, which violated commands cannot be covered by grace?
Aren't there some spiritual qualities that mean so much to God that they transcend doctrinal correctness? It's not that being correct or right in our interpretation of the Word is not important, but are there things that rise to the top, that God is looking for since so few who have lived over the last two thousand years have had access to all the parts of the puzzle (i.e. twenty-seven books of the NT)?
What about "seeking God"? Why is that so important from the beginning of God's Word to the end? He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him! He draws near to anyone who is drawing near to him! How important is a passion to know God - to want a relationship with God? How pleasing is that to God? Could it be more pleasing than figuring out all the right steps and understanding all the correct conclusions?
I read Luke 10 this morning and I was touched, again, by the encounter Jesus had with the "expert in the law" that led him to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. The guy was asking for a definition of what's essential to "inherit eternal life," and Jesus just tossed the questions right back at him. "What is written in the Law?" Since that was the guys expertise, it's a good question to ask. But then Jesus added, "How do you read it?" It wasn't just a matter of what does the Law say, but how do you interpret it. Jesus clearly understood that people see God's message differently.
The lawyer was quick. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus affirmed that he was right, and then he declared, "Do this and you will live."
Wait just a second! What about all those other laws and regulations? Unimportant? No, just not as important as what God wants to see in our hearts. Is it an accident that what Jesus said is repeated by Paul, Peter, John, and James in other parts of the New Testament? So are all the other doctrinal issues unimportant? No, it's just that they are not as important as loving God by learning to love one another. All the right doctrines mixed with the wrong kind of heart makes every doctrine immaterial. But the right kind of heart - that loves others, loves the Father, and seeks to draw close to him - makes every doctrine supportive material not a list of laws.
It is always going to be true that "Anyone...who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." As we discover what we think God wants us to do, we do it, but be careful about playing God and deciding who gets grace and who doesn't.


Anonymous said...


You are so "right on!" I appreciate your way of expression. Would that more of us coc'ers thought the same way.

Hal James
Washington, Iowa

Anonymous said...

Not just CoC'ers. I work in another church and my family has married into another one, and even though the coc has gotten the rap for being that way--they all are. I am just thankful to be able to "seek God" and know that the rest will fall in place. I am thankful that the "judgement" burden, that the religious world had put there, isn't on my shoulders.I thank God that he sent Mike into our lifes to help us understand that.I miss learning at his feet..