Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Penny for Your Salvation: Why We Try and Earn Salvation

Past to present, religious people have adopted abstinent lifestyles in the name of faith. From the Essenes in the New Testament era, to the beginning of monasticism in the fourth century to present day polygamists. Different groups with different ideals choosing the same path to spiritual ascent- self denial. But why?

What would drive one to choose a lifestyle in which their husband had other wives- wives that said one is expected to befriend and work alongside as family? On the flipside, what would drive one to choose a lifestyle that forbids marriage altogether, or avoid modern conveniences? These circumstances are a bit extreme, but the driving force behind them is the same driving force that causes us to do less dramatic things in order to try and earn our salvation. 

A salvation that is freely given. 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
Salvation is Freely given, but we cannot fathom that, so we work. 
In vain. 
Tithing out of duty instead of delight to give. 
In Vain.
Checking off another quiet time that didn't penetrate the heart. 
In vain. 
You name the act - it can be used to try and buy His love. Each of us picking our own poison, we're all guilty of it to one degree or another. Because we could never do what he did - what he does.  
We could never offer our lives or our love, unconditionally, to a pathetic transient. We could try but we'd fail. Because from the time man has existed, man has been evil - trying to find a way to beat the system.
Down through the ages, we've passed a legacy of trying to figure out a way to beat His system of grace. We've toiled and prayed and worked to buy his redemption.  
In vain, though, Because He cannot be bought.  For what The Lord is not behind can never be accomplished. 
Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

- Psalm 127:1-2 
Do not feel completely mindless or naive for buying the idea, for even theologians and church fathers have fallen prey - it's just not in our fallen DNA to comprehend this mysterious grace.
   One of the biggest imbalances In Christianity has been over election for salvation. John Calvin and Jacob Arminius engaged in this battle with their differing views on salvation, and both views have trickled their way down through the Church. Our beliefs are tinged by the doctrines they formed long ago. Calvin and Arminius both walked slightly to one side or the other from the middle of the road - with Calvin on the side of grace apart from human interference and Arminius on the side of grace extended to humans who God knew would accept his extending of salvation. Calvinism tends to err on sloppy grace and Arminianism on works. Thus you have confusion in the church as to which is correct. These doctrines are composed by men who are not able to conceive God's grace. They, in their fallible human knowledge try and put a label on it. In my opinion, we are best to try and stay on middle ground, both taking comfort in God's grace that is unmerited but given, and maintaining a reverent fear of his sovereignty. 
    In other words, when you find yourself trying to earn salvation, it's time to take some steps back toward the middle of the road. 
He didn't give you salvation because he saw good in you, for “None is righteous, no, not one, no one understands;no one seeks for God.All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good,not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 
BUT, He is good and allows no one to "snatch you from His hand"! John 10:29

Walk in the middle of the road - it's harder to fall into the ditches there! :)

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