Saturday, February 19, 2011

Religious but not in Christ

Yet another amazing prayer by Scotty Smith.  Also, read the prior posts "The Problem with the Pigpen" and  "No Salvation at All":
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.   Galatians 5:4-5

Dear Jesus, this is one of the most sobering passages I’ve ever read about the gospel. Paul doesn’t describe “falling from grace” in terms of falling into immorality or godless living. Rather, to fall from grace is to lapse into performance-based spirituality—trying to gain and maintain a relationship with God based on my obedience to the law. How perilous and eternally destructive it is to move away from the gospel of your grace.

In reality, trying to be justified by law is the essence of godless living, for the righteousness we must have can only be received by faith, not by works. Everything else leads to alienation from you—a godless existence, indeed. So, more than any other form of accountability, we need accountability for believing the gospel.

If I maintain a daily regimen of Bible reading, memorization and quiet times, but don’t really believe the gospel, it will profit me nothing.

If I’m scrupulous to avoid evil, and even the appearance of evil, but no longer believe the gospel, I am self-righteous and lost.

If I should go on short term missions trips every month and give a big portion of my income to the poor, yet don’t trust the gospel-plus-nothing for my salvation, I’m a generous altruistic infidel.

If I am careful to obey every imperative—all the commands I find in the Bible, but no longer believe the indicatives of the gospel, I’m certainly religious, but I’m not in Christ.

If I cross every theological “t” just right, love the Bible, and correct heresy everywhere I find it, yet lasp into justification by works, I’m to be just as pitied as any other person outside of Christ.

If I weep many tears of sadness over my sin and earnestly repent, yet no longer cling to your cross as my propitiation and righteousness, I’m only a tearful pagan.

Jesus, by your Holy Spirit, hold us accountable for believing the gospel. Continuance in the gospel is the test of spiritual reality. And, should we participate in accountability groups, let us be most zealous to hold each other accountable for believing the gospel. Everything else will take care of itself. So very Amen, we pray, in your holy and righteous name.

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