Some say it is too good to be true

sightWe love to compare ourselves to others. Oh, we may not admit it but we wonder if we measure up, where we stand, don’t we? Where we went to school, how much money we make, grades we get, the place we live, the clothes we wear … there are so many ways that we try to figure out if we are ‘good enough.’  When that impulse goes to church, the result is not pretty. It is the ultimate tragedy.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he tells the younger pastor to confront some teachers who were trying to play on human pride, who were negating the grace of Christ with another ‘gospel.’ Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:2-5, NIV)  Those teachers claimed that becoming acceptable to God meant being ‘good enough’ by keeping rules about sex and food.

That false gospel is still around.  Keeping religious rules as means of finding a place in God’s family tells us that if we do this or that, refuse to go here or there, give this much, wear this and do not wear that – it is a very long list – steals the heart of Christianity for millions.  It is an attractive lie because it allows a person to keep score, but it is a denial of the very grace of God, shown us in Christ Jesus.  I wonder if Paul wept as he wrote these inspired words to some people trying so hard to save themselves?  “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” (Colossians 2:21-3:1, NLT)

We are reconciled to God, our Father, by Christ Jesus, not by doing enough good things. Salvation from sin does not come through knowing more about theology, greater efforts at spiritual discipline, or practicing rigid self-denial. If we could possibly arrive at some state of holiness by ourselves, Christ would not have died for us! “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV) “—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV)  We accept a free gift, offered by God because He is full of love, and we are saved. That is the Gospel of Christ.

Some people misunderstand the amazing grace of God and turn it into a license to sin.  Others abuse God’s grace and refuse to grow into a beautiful kind of holy life.  But, that does not change the Truth we are made right with Him by the gift of grace.

Are you duped by preachers who give you a system of religious rules?
Have you been freed from slavery to sin only to be enslaved to a new tyranny of Religion?
Look again to Jesus. Thank Him for a gift that changes from the inside out.

Don’t insult God by reminding Him of your successes while trying to hide your sins and failure. Instead, radically trust the message of the Gospel – Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!  A new life will emerge from that forgiveness, one that is beautiful with a true holiness shaped in you and me by the Holy Spirit.  Do you think that it is too good to be true?

The word from the Word points us to the experience of the ‘father of the faithful’ – Abraham – reminding us that he did not receive his place because of anything he had done, but because God loved and chose him.  Be inspired to greater devotion as you read. “So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.” If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.” (Romans 4:1-5, The Message)

___________

This Is Amazing Grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory the King above all kings

(Yeah) (Oh) This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You laid down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh Jesus I sing for all that You’ve done for me

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory the King of Glory

Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory the King above all kings

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy worthy worthy

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham © 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)CCLI License # 810055

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