This blog post is a response to friend of mine who wanted me to quit looking at him as if he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a Christian, because he was raised on Jesus.
Keep reading if you care about why I think your Christian upbringing has nothing to do with what you know about the real Jesus and true Christianity. I have to admit, I’m feeling quite emotional, so consider this a warning for possible offenses made due to poorly worded statements.
I often get a chance to do ministry with youth here in Campbell River. My biggest challenge is not helping young people see the evidence for Christ, or helping them understand that the power and love of God is enough to save them. My biggest challenge is represented by something like 60 – 70% of the young people I serve on a regular basis who think that they are going to heaven because they are good Christians, doing what they’re Christian parents told them to do.
That is the false Christianity that allows people to harbour prideful discrimination toward people of different religions, cultures and backgrounds. These people often think that they are better than everyone else because they chose the “right” morality system. The merit of their religion is in that they chose it, not that it is right. Such is self centered and encourages stupid fairytale-faith (believing in something because your want it to be true). This kind of Christianity is opposed to the actual person and work of Christ who came to seek and save sinners despite they’re moral performance.
These pseudo-Christians could replace Jesus with Santa clause, Buddha, Vishnu, Allah, the force, Zeus, or just a strong will, and their religious deeds don’t change! Their faith depends on Jesus as much as the Canucks depend on their mascot, Fin.
The principals of Christianity are not a system of morality by which, if well followed, earns a person a position in heaven rather than hell. Christianity is a result of sinful people responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ;
That God created nature to glorify him, allowing humans to choose him rather than program their response to him. – As a result of our rebellion against God he will not allow us to remain in his presence, our sin incurs a judgment penalty from a just judge and our failure effected our entire sphere of existence as we reject our purpose and reponsibilites to worship God, love each other, and care for our planet. – However, despite our sin God still loves us and wants to bless us with his presence and purpose. – But, because he is just he could not acquit our crime without proper penalty, but his love triumphs over judgement, and God begun revealing his plan to redeem people from their sin through a propitiation scape goat. The only one who could bear under the punishment for a crimes that would take an eternity to serve, is the one who is eternally righteous, God himself. – So God put on flesh and came to earth in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. He lived with sinful men in a sinful world without ever sinning. After fulfilling prophesy and preparing the church for good works, he was arrested, charged with blasphemy (saying that he was God) and crucified by the Jews, his own chosen people. – In his death Christ gave up the royal inheritance his righteous life deserved so that it might be accounted to the lives of the sinful redeemed, and he bore the sin of the redeemed taking an eternity of punishment upon himself (the redeemed being people in history past and history future that rely on the mercy of God through his holy sacrifice for salvation). In doing this, Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) made himself equal to humans so that we would not miss out on the goodness that he is!
(::: So to the misled 2nd generation Christian who believe they are saved by their religion: Please understand that there is nothing you can do to be a good Christian! Christianity is not a description of your actions, beliefs or standard of morality, it is who you become when adopted into the household of God in the name of Christ. » No Christian is accepted into heaven because of their good works. The only thing that you contribute to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary. Seriously! Read the bible, there’s NO WAY you’ve kept God’s law–his standard is impossible!!! God’s standard for his household is pefection and you can’t even obey the 1st commandment! That is why you need Christ! At the cross Christ gave you his inheritance. There is nothing left you have to do, but enjoy the life that he has bought for you to the best of your ability.
If you will just believe the words of Jesus, you will begin to understand why the gospel really is good news! Aren’t you sick and tired of reading “the truth will set your free” and constantly feeling trapped? How long can you fake it? :::)
While the gospel remains unchanged, the times men have tried to manipulate the gospel into a moral system by which they can control others and permit evil is uncountable. From the Pharisees of Acts 15, to Constantine II, to the generations of wicked popes and clergy, to Hitler and the barrage of violent crusaders he followed. It is in our sinful nature to try and remove God’s sovereignty and control over our freedom while keeping his gift of salvation. Unless we die to that nature, we are slaves to it.
True biblical Christianity is not a moral system that can be established through family tradition, proper upbringing, or performance based training. Not even a devoted knowledge and agreeance of orthodox Christian doctrine can convert a sinner to the Christianity of Christ. Jesus says “no-one comes to me unless the father who sent me draws him.” Negatively, he foretells that on the day of judgement many will say “didn’t we…” – do this, do that… Christianity is not what you do, it is trusting that what God has done for us in love is enough to save us.
We can not make ourselves Christian! Rather the Christian is a person who responds to the already established person and work of God revealed in their life. When someone has been so compelled by the grace and power of the person and work of God, they are moved (not commanded, and not coerced, but compelled by a heart desire) to walk beyond the edge of a life devoted to self, into a life engaged with Gods own spirit living within them. A place where every natural self gratifying desire is in danger of permanent denial. Until they die, every single Christian spends the rest of their life waging war against their selfish desires not in order to win Gods favor (Gods favor is already won for us by Christ’s perfect life accredited to our account) but in order to give way to the guidance of God’s holy spirit, who God graciously sends to us as our comforter and counselor when we humbly confess our sin against him and trust in the salvation he promises. God’s spirit leads us on a journey on which we become more like the savior we adore, Jesus. God as man whose unconditional, undying and pursuing love for us is an inspiration and example for how we should love each other. Slowly growing in Christ’s selfless love and worship we melt with delight, experiencing what it is to be truly human. FREE! Free from the selfishness that enslaves us and blocks us from doing what we know is right. With every desire fully satisfied by God, who himself created each desire to be satisfied in full by his own providence as we serve others around us, loving them as he loved us. That is living a life of worship.
So my friend, unless that is what you experienced you really don’t know what it is to be christian, and your knowledge of Christ is merely cognitive. Your knowledge of Jesus Christ is comparative to your knowledge of Cleopatra or Gautama. But the Christian–who has been transformed by the person and work of Christ knows Christ as a brother, lover and rescuing king.
When I was younger I called myself a Christian, and I believed with all my heart I was. But I failed at being holy. My thoughts and deeds testified to my selfishness. My willpower was weak and I couldn’t hide the wickedness in my heart. When I was old enough to see the inconsistency in what I believed, I saw myself as evil – and worthy of hell. I cried out to God telling him that if he is real he might as well take me now because I was undoubtedly destined for punishment and I couldn’t spend my life waiting for it. Instead he swept me in love and joy I can’t describe. And now I spend the rest of my life exploring him and reveling in his pleasure, eating at the table of the feast he has prepared in his awesome creative beauty.
Admittedly there are times, more often than I’d like to admit, that I am tempted by the feast of my selfish desires. Instant gratification looks so sweet in a time of trial. But every time I eat of it, I become sick and a burden to the ones I love rather than a blessing.
So I thank God for he does not forsake me because of my sin, but rather uses it to show his glorious unconditional love and grace. And I trust that through Christ my sins are not counted against me because of God’s promise. And I proclaim the person and power of God because I experienced the miracle of his love in my own life. I know it personally to be good and true, and I don’t want anyone to miss out.
» How I know that not all proclaimed Christians are truly Christians:
Matthew Chapter 13:24He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weedsc among the wheat and went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27And the servantsd of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” … A couple of other parables … 36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
Matthew 7:22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
» How I know that we are justified by what Christ did, rather than by what we do:
Galatians 3:10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”d 12But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirite through faith. … (read the whole book for context) … 21Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slaveg nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Romans 4:4Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5And to the one who does not work but believes inb him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
Ephesians 2:1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodya and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4Butb God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
P.S. In this somewhat emotional blog post, I do not imply that any particular denomination of Christianity is totally false (although that may be true regarding particular teachings and practices). Rather, I do imply that among those who call themselves Christians, there are many who are lying to themselves. A Christian is one who is adopted into the Kingdom of God not by his own merit, but by Christ’s – that is why we say “in Christ’s name.”