What is the most errant and damaging belief in most Christian churches?

 

Here’s a clue:

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“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,…”

   Colossians 2:13

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I can just see Jesus standing at the tomb of Lazarus hands folded and silent, surrounded by the weeping entourage as one of the exasperated, grieving sisters tugs at His sleeve;

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 ‘Jesus why don’t you do something?’

I’m waiting’, He replies.

‘Waiting for what?’

‘I’m waiting for Lazarus to make a decision.’

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The trouble with Jesus was that He refused to play by the rules of conventional, religious wisdom. That wisdom stated that God rewards the good and punishes the sinner. But Jesus unsettled the conventional wisdom. He forgave people who by their obvious misconduct revealed themselves to be truly wicked. And, to add insult to injury, He blasted the good religious folks who by their obvious outward conduct appeared to be godly. With Jesus on the loose nobody knew what would happen next. Sort of like grace. Jesus spoke and acted as if He were actually in charge, as if He had the final authority over life and death.

That, of course, is our problem with God.

We too have a conventional religious wisdom. And that wisdom tells us that we have a free will that must choose God. God may be the Creator of the universe, the One who is beyond time and space, eternal and almighty, but where we are concerned, God stands with His hat in His hand waiting for us to decide.

We like this conventional, free-will view of God because it keeps us in the center of the action, where we can work on our variously defined programs of godliness and success, showing God how serious we. This is precisely what Jesus ran into among the religious of his own time. Claiming to be all about God, they were actually all about themselves, even if their intentions were good. That, in the final analysis, is what free will religion comes down to. It’s not about God, it’s about me. And the insistence on hanging on to even a little bit of freedom where God is concerned, reveals that the will has already made its decision. It has decided for the self, and that leads not to life, but death.

Jesus came to the grave of Lazarus to say something and to do something full of grace – free, unmerited grace. He came in His own time and on His own terms. And when He arrived He took control of the funeral. He commanded the grave to be opened and he called Lazarus out of the cold grip of death by a word.

Hanging on to the illusion of free will is about as useful as the dead hand of Lazarus clutching his burial shroud. So,that same Word of death-defeating grace and power must be spoken to you. God saves you by His grace. God chooses you. 

In the absolution and your baptism, this same Jesus who was plunged into death, wades into death’s deep waters to find you – and does some free-will choosing of His own.

 

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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From  Pastor Mark Anderson’s Daily Devotional blog site.

Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Responses

  1. Steve, I love that brother, except for 6 words in the last paragraph (works of a church) LOL But other than that, I love it…Let’s keep learning together. In Christ, Ken

  2. Thanks, Ken.

    We believe that the absolution is part and parcel of the gospel. It is the gospel. “Your sin is forgiven for Jesus’ sake.” This, we believe, is not a work that ‘we do’, but a command that the Lord has us do. “How can they hear if they do not have a preacher?” Hear what? The gospel. Romans 1:16 tells us how important it is.

    And Baptism is commanded by Jesus. So He is in it. It’s not an empty religious ritual. I doubt our Lord was into that sort of thing.

    These things are the ‘external Word’. Coming to us from outside of ourselves. Having nothing to do with ‘our will’…but with His.

    • Steve, I’m grateful for some of the Lutheran churches, they seem to be
      one of the few mainline denominations that hold fast to trusting Christ,
      my sister married a Lutheran and raised her children in a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I’ve been there a few times, baptisms,
      weddings things like that… We were raised mainly in Southern Baptist churches, sadly the name doesn’t mean much anymore, other than
      baptizing believers, (which I do see in scripture). Anyway I love quoting
      Luther (even though he was a Catholic) and I agree with much of what,
      my Lutheran brothers and sisters believe. I still consider myself a Baptist but always being reformed. In Christ, Ken

      • Ken,

        Yes, the term Lutheran can mean just about anything these days. We are centrist Lutherans who are centered on Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone. No add-ons for us. None.

        We love to stand with all those who place Christ and His gospel, His finished work for sinners, at the center of the Christian life.

        We by no means think that we are alone in doing this. And that there are many, in churches all over the earth that do so.

        The external Word and sacraments that we espouse may sound a bit strange to many who have been brought up in a cooperative style of Christianity. But we believe that once we place it ALL on Christ’s shoulders, on His Cross, that the freedom we gain and the reliance on Christ so great, that we can never go back to a cooperative understanding of the faith.

        “He must increase. We must decrease.”

        Thank you, friend.

        – Steve

  3. Interesting thoughts on free will. I’ve heard an explanation that I liked: It looks like free will to us from our perspective, but from God’s perspective it isn’t. I think that explanation does a good job of showing that our choices do matter and that we’re not merely robots. But at the same time we acknowledge the sovereignty of God.

  4. Our choices do matter, Loren. Unfortunately, when it comes to matters of faith and God, our wills show their bondage to sin.

    The only One who has truly free will to do the good, is our God who has saved us from our bad choices, the world, and the devil.

    Thanks very much, Loren.

  5. Agreeing with the beauty mystery of God – God absolutely sovereign, and we, living moment by moment responsible for our choices of the flesh or by the Spirit, by His power!
    e.g, one chooses to make or not make blogs comments, and then chooses to make them kind or unkind; respectful or disrespectful; ridiculing or honoring- willful personal choices, totally our responsibility for which we are totally accountable

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