Salvation: What’s in it for me?


I read the quote in the book Making Sense of the New Testament by Craig Blomberg:

“Simply professing to follow Jesus is inadequate, especially if one does so merely for personal gain. The path of true discipleship is the road to the cross– death to self, deinal of the ‘triumphalism’ that perverts the Gospel into a formula for worldly success and prestige, and the willingness to lay down one’s life for Christ should that prove necessary, even if it means an ignominousand agonizing death.”

Does this mean that if you profess Christ just because you don’t like the idea of going to hell that you have missed the point of the Gospel? Is escaping Hell a reason of mere personal gain and not one that acknowledges He is worthy of our service and worship regardless of what we get in return?

If we preach a Gospel that says, “Believe in Jesus so you won’t go to Hell,” are we selling the Gosepl short? Why do we seek the forgiveness and love of the Savior? Is it because we want something from Him, or is it because we recognize His holiness and our total inability to survive apart from Him?

I will chew on this observation for several days as I re-evaluate how I share the Gospel and how I frame God’s good gift of salvation– How do you explain the gift of salvation God has provided for us without making it about us?

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God, Gold, and Glory


People keep asking me what my problem is with the current administration. What’s wrong with wanting everyone to have health care? What’s wrong with the President encouraging students to stay in school? Nothing. People should have health care. Students should stay in school and excel to the best of their ability. My problem is not with the ends desired by the administration; my problem is the means by which the administration intends to achieve them.

See, I have a very different worldview when compared to most of the world. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state. Religion and politics should never mix. When those two things get together, events like the Crusades and the Holocaust and the Salem witch trials and British Civil Wars and segregation in the South occur.

However, I also firmly believe that my faith is the lens through which I should view the entire world, politics included. Religion brings to government more dogma and a competing legal code, and two legal codes will rarely co-exist in friendly terms. But faith will govern how I select who will represent me in the government and how I view things like history, politics, and culture. Faith and religion are not synonymous. I have a real problem with a government that is permitted to grow larger and larger so that it can accomplish the work mandated by God to be done by His people. I also have a real problem with God’s people allowing it to occur because we are too busy being religious to be faithful.

As a Christian, I take the Word of God very seriously. I believe that while it is not exhaustive in its information, it is 100% true in the areas in which it makes comments and observations, especially about human nature. Who, after all, is better qualified to comment on the tendencies of the creation than the Creator?

And the Creator has lots to say about how and where we spend our money and how we should care for one another. If believers all gave just their tithes, not even offerings above and beyond the 10% tithe, I’m certain we would be able to eradicate issues like poverty and hunger and lack of education in our own country and beyond. Why do I believe that? Because in Scripture, God mandated that His people care for the widows and the orphans. He gave instructions for how to care for those who could not care for themselves like the sick and infirmed. He gave instructions for how to treat those who refused to provide for their families, and he also gave instructions for how His people should care for those who had been abandoned. And our God does not give a command without also providing a way for us to be obedient.

By our actions, most of us show that we believe that we understand finances and the economy better than God, so we don’t give Him all that He requests of us. Last time I checked, the government takes a lot more than 10% of each of my paychecks. Probably would have worked out better for us in the long run if we had just given God what He asked of us.

My “problem” with the current issue about the President addressing school children is that it’s not the government’s responsibility to educate the next generation any more than it is the responsibility of the government to care for those who cannot care for themselves. God did not ordain the government as the foundational institution of society; He ordained the family to fulfill that role. My problem is not with the government stepping in and meeting a need; my problem is with the church and the family that for too long allowed the need to go unmet.

There are many “what about” illustrations that could be proposed, and there is one consistent biblical solution: we each work hard and to the best of our ability. When that occurs, some do better than others financially and those that are better off give out of their abundance to care for those who are in need.

But, you say, that sounds like communism. The issue is that you cannot legislate a charitable heart. When believers work as unto the Lord and not men, needs are met lovingly and graciously. When we have been given a gift as great as salvation, meeting physical needs should be a no brainer.

So here is my problem: the church wants to switch places with the world. We come to church and demand life AND liberty AND happiness while expecting the government to care for our poor and educate our children. Our society is broken; that is evident to all with eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. But the world’s solution and the church’s solution should be very different.

I will not place my faith in any man made system of government to care for my family and meet my needs. My proposed solution involves not a change in the majority party of Congress, but a change in the hearts of believers. James gives this illustration of faith in action in his letter in the New Testament: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” This is the example James uses of speaking of faith without acting in faith. When believers begin looking out for themselves instead of looking out for one another, we quit walking in faith. It is easier to place our faith in a visible government that we can see and hear than it is to place our faith in the God of the universe that owns it all to begin with.

I am by no means proposing a theocracy. That returns us to a mixing of church and state that has proven to always be disastrous. Changes of heart cannot be legislated from the capital. What I am proposing is what God proposed to begin with; that His people care for those less fortunate than they and show the love of Christ first to one another and than to the world around us. If we would simply do those two things, there would be no need for welfare and universal health care and daytime speeches on the benefits of education.

See, I don’t have a problem with President Obama. It doesn’t surprise me when politicians behave like politicians. It grieves my heart when the church refuses to behave like the church.