For millenniums we have seen theologians and priests duke it out over one simply question: Are you saved through faith or must you work towards your salvation?
While this question may seem to have a simple answer that your church taught you to regurgitate whenever someone verbalizes the question, I will just go right ahead and say it. I believe that the words spoken in Ephesians 2: 8-9 are true.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” I believe that there is no work greater than the work that was done for us by Jesus Christ. Therefore, there is nothing more or less we can do to earn our salvation, and our good works are done simply out of love and reverence to Jesus Christ.
I could stop the article right there, but my biggest question has yet to be answered. Many of us may know that we are saved through our faith alone, but are we really living that out? I would argue that we all struggle to follow our beliefs on this topic more than we think. Now don’t read me wrong, I’m not saying it’s in any way biblical to go as far as to murder your brother or sister in the confidence that you are saved regardless. For in all ways we have been called to the exact opposite, and this is where we miss the mark.
We have become a people obsessed with putting our works before our relationship with Jesus. If you don’t believe me, allow me to ask you this: What are you devoting more of your time and energy toward? Your relationship with Jesus, or your battle with pornography? Or how about your men’s or women’s organization? Your education or career? Your summer camps?
Truth is, we all have made our own idols out of things that we’ve disguised to appear as if they’re rooted in our love for Jesus when they simply are not. In other words, it’s easy to claim that you’re seeking a deeper relationship with God when interviewing for that Christian organization, but how is that claim valid when you become angry at God after getting rejected? It was never about your relationship with Him. You may have convinced yourself of it, but deep down you possess a real heart issue that has entirely separated your good merit from God.
I have to be honest with you. Sometimes I catch myself reading the bible for the wrong reasons. You may ask, how can this be possible? How can you possibly read the bible in an incorrect way? Well, it’s actually much simpler than you may believe. Have you ever asked yourself why you are reading the Bible?
Psalm 119: 10-11 says “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Are you reading the Bible to seek out a person in Jesus Christ or to enhance your spiritual knowledge for the sake of your own teachings and arguments amongst others?
I spent many of my earlier days as a Christian developing my own theological knowledge from the Word of God purely for the sake of conversation and my own self-confidence. I remember going through these severely dry seasons, feeling as if God was further away from me than the Cleveland Browns are from their next Super Bowl.
As these feelings became persistent, I was convicted that my “dry” season was actually a disobedient season. My disobedience didn’t come from a lack of action in my faith, it came from a lack of direction. I was reading the bible, but not to learn about a person. I was worshipping, but not to encounter a person. I was praying, but not to talk with a person. So, what was I doing?
I was seeking the positive effects of a “Christian” life and the reward that being a “Christian” affords, but entirely avoiding the Christ in my “Christianity.” This is why the number one priority in my walk with Jesus is to now focus on the man in which I’m walking with. I no longer want to be a part of the community of believers that chooses righteousness and healthy lifestyle choices before choosing Jesus. Righteousness, obedience, and the pleasures that come from being a Christian are simply a proceeding result from a complete and ultimate devotion to Jesus Christ.
Beloved, I want to invite you into this way of life because the other option is one of Satan’s greatest traps. There are many Christians in our midst today who aren’t focusing on what they’re doing for their faith, but rather what they don’t do.
“I’m a Christian.”
“Well I accepted Jesus and now I don’t drink, do drugs, slander, or look at porn.”
“Great! Well tell me more about your relationship with Jesus.”
I was in this trap for years, and it is not worth it, my friends. Don’t sacrifice your relationship with the creator and savior of mankind for mere trophies that the enemy offers you in return. The Lord tells us:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” -Matthew 7:21-23
Make the choice, beloved, and choose to love the one that loved you first.