Things are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
Do you know what the DOT in dot-com means? It stands for “Definable, Obtainable Target. What does this mean to Christians?
Last week we talked about Legalism. Paul contended with this as much as any other problem in the church, and addresses it specifically in the book of Galatians, chapter 3, where he cries out: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” vs 1-3. When you read the word perfect in the bible, it means mature or complete. The word perfect in vs. 3 above means reaching an intended end (DOT) which is Christ’s Likeness. If we seek to acquire or maintain our faith/salvation by way of our own good works, this is Legalism. “God is the author (beginner) and finisher of our faith” - Heb. 12:2. The Christian life is not an imitation, bur rather a participation. We literally “become partakers of Christ” - Heb 3:14.
Why do we even try? Well, a lot of us have given up because of what Pastor Phil Jones calls: “the debtor approach”. This is big with immature Christians and is often self imposed, but more often than not it is a tool of manipulative preachers, and goes something like this. “God has done so much for you, and what are you doing for Him? You should spend the rest of your life, 24/7 paying Him back”. When the reality of His sacrifice hits you, this seems reasonable; but the fact of the matter is, you cannot pay Him back. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Phil. 2:13. If this is true, God both gives you the desire to serve Him, and He does the work. We don’t get to take any of the credit. “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.” Heb 13:21. This is liberating for me. It’s not about me, or my talents, or my lack thereof.
The other extreme is the Obligation Approach. This is where the Lord of the universe, is relegated to being our Genie in a bottle, subject to our bidding. It goes something like this: “Oh Lord, I fasted so – I witnessed so – I’m a member of *** so – I observed ordinance x so - you are obligated to bless me”. Not. If this were true, who becomes God?
Listen, obedience is critically important, as Jesus said in John 14:21, but it is a bi-product of our love for Him. You can outwardly obey with out loving, but you cannot love without obeying. It is the difference between Legalism, and Joy and Peace. Jesus paid it all, then He gasped and said “It is Finished”.