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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Church Doesn't Save

We know better. We truly do. We know Jesus is the only way to be saved (John 14:6). We know "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) We know we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) and that any other gospel is a false one (Gal 1:6-9). We know all this. And still ... we walk into walls all the time.

We think that good works will save. Oh, most of us don't run afoul of that too often. Still, we tend to think that if we're good we ought to get rewarded for it and if we're bad ... funny thing ... we shouldn't see any negative outcome because, hey, we're one of the King's kids, right? But we know it doesn't work that way (Heb 12:5-11). Some think that homeschooling will do it. Keep our kids out of the bad influences of the world and, bingo! They'll be saved. As if that's a new gospel. As if that's a magic pill. But it isn't.

When we stray from "Christ alone", we generally stray to a cocktail, a mixture of means to the end. If we can give our kids the gospel when they're young and we can raise them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4), if we can train them up in the way they should go (Prov 22:6), if we can take them to church ... every Sunday and to youth groups and to camps, then we can insure they will be saved, right? Right?

You know it doesn't work that way. You know that. You know that humans are, by nature, hostile to God (Rom 8:7). You know that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). You know that "the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen 8:21) Didn't Jesus tell us, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt 7:13-14)? Hear that? The gate we want is narrow and small and few find it. We know this.

So, we do what we can. We obey where we can. And we fail. For a variety of reasons we cannot guarantee the eternal condition of our progeny, our loved ones, our friends and family. So placing our faith in works or homeschooling or proper upbringing or church is a false gospel. So what are we left with? We have to trust Jesus to save us and we have to trust the Father to do what's best for those about whom we care the most. Frankly, that can seem a bit ... shaky. We can do our best and still not have the outcome we hope for? Yes, indeed. So you have to ask yourself: Is that okay with you? Is whatever God does okay with you? Or do you have a better idea? It's something you'll have to answer for yourself. We do our best, we obey as far as we can, we do all we know to do. Is God's outcome okay with you? Is He good enough? That's the real question.


Bob said...

How do we work our way thru these paradoxical challenges, do i make my children go to church knowing that church does not save? do i keep my children home, knowing that home schooling is no guarantee that they will any better off in the future ? do i go on doing good things knowing that we are not saved by those things? should i pray for my children knowing that God may have other plans? the simple answer is DO IT ANYWAY... we know that unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment. to the question " if God has other plans, would you have a problems with that?" is a fine question, that is intended to expose our unrealistic expectations of God. if all prayer and supplications end with "THY WILL BE DONE" we reduce the tension of the paradox.
An interesting irony: Rome was turned upside down, but a small man, in chains, in a prison cell. he too had some unrealistic expectations, but in the end it was " thy will be done" .

Marshal Art said...

I pretty much concur with Bob's sentiments. I don't know that I've ever "put faith" in any of the things you listed, but did them anyway in hopes that it would work out according to God's plan, not in some desperate alternative to it. Of course, none of it is worth much without the underlying message of your post...that it is Christ who saves.

Stan said...

I know people who have been dramatically impacted when they've "done everything right". They taught their kids right and wrong, took them to church, prayed with them, encouraged them, loved them, disciplined them, all the right stuff ... and a kid has come out in opposition to God. If the premise is not "If I do all this stuff right it will come out right," it's more surprising/devastating when it doesn't "come out right." If you're thinking, "I will do all this stuff and God will do as He pleases ... and I will thank Him for it," it's a lot easier. I haven't met too many with the latter point of view.

Bob said...

when i was a child my parents would place me is a plain canvas bag and beat me with a stick. it was quite common in those days.. because of this discipline i am no longer afraid of the dark or canvas bags. will blessings never cease ??...

Marshal Art said...

I think it's natural to be grievously disappointed when after having done all one could, the kid turns out to be...less than desired. I don't know if that's the same as putting faith in the process rather than in God, but I get your point. Not too many would immediately accept God's will being done in such a scenario and give thanks for it. Gotta admit, I'm not sure I would, either without being reminded.