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More posts by SteveB
You know, I have seen so much in my 38 years. I have witnessed first-hand what false theology can do. Theology is the doctrine of God. It matters. How we view God determines how we treat one another and how we relate to the world around us.
I am thankful for being taught about Jesus when I was young. I prayed to receive Christ when I was 5 years old at our home in New Salem, Kansas. For 10 years, Satan would tell me every night that I wasn’t saved. I doubted my salvation. When I was 15, I told God that I would not ask Him for salvation again… I finally felt at peace. For the longest time, I have felt that I must’ve gotten saved that night because I finally “trusted.” Now, I am not so sure that is the case. When I read Scripture (and our trust in Scripture matters if we are believers), I see that I may very well have been saved all along. It has taken me 33 years to realize this.
Too often, we look at the human side of salvation as if that is what is the most important thing. The way I see it is that God drew me to Himself that night and I responded. Yeah, I was told of Hell, I knew that I didn’t want to go there, and I knew I needed Him. What I didn’t know was anything about the tenets of the Christian faith. I was ignorant of Redemption, Sanctification, Justification, Trinitarianism, Baptism, Communion, Ordinances, Sacraments, Church membership, Ecclesiology, or what my epistemology should be to name a few things…
So, the crux of the matter that has developed…is what really matters? I remember telling everyone that salvation was really hard. I would quote all the Scriptures about the narrow way and how not very many would make it. I knew the story of the Rich Young Ruler, the people who call out “Lord, Lord” on judgment day, etc. These Scriptures are valid and true. However, what is the Gospel? Is it not the GOOD NEWS? Jesus came to save us from our sins–to deliver us from captivity, and to change our citizenship from children of darkness to children of light! Christus Victor! Why is that not spoken more? Instead, we constantly are told of all the additions to the “good” news. I have heard this since I was a teenager: “If you are really saved, you will do all the things that good Christians do, and you will refrain from all the things that bad people do.” Now it’s not always phrased that way, but essentially that is the way it is paraphrased. Is this the Gospel? Making sure that people only like Church activities, hate movie theaters, casinos, bars, pool halls, and for all intents and purposes live a monastic life? I think not.
C.S Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity:
I have heard story after story and read heartbreaking accounts of those who were trapped in the Bill Gothard belief system, which my family was raised in. Everything was based on outward proofs of godliness, and Gothard even changed the orthodox definition of “Grace” from unmerited favor to “the desire and power to do God’s will.” What?!? Since the definition was changed, the epistemology of grace was transformed into outward proofs of spirituality. I remember the Character Sketches and the memory games, the wisdom booklets, the umbrella of authority, the evils of backbeat in music and how the emphasis on beats 2 and 4 were satanic and against God. Dating was a sin–courtship was glorified. Youth groups were despised, but spiritual robots were venerated. Beards were of the devil (unless you were Amish or Mennonite), and cutting your sideburns high was a sign that you had bought into the world’s ways.
A true sign of godliness was being serious. One time, my brother and I went to the Northwoods of Michigan for a seminar. During one of the breaks from the sessions, a group of guys (of which I was a part of) began a snowball fight. Little did we realize that we were being “foolish.” Bill Gothard proceeded to quote us Scripture verses from Proverbs about “fools” in a lecture that was to convict us of our sin. I sat there in disbelief. I could go on and on.
I would die for this next statement: Legalism kills. It kills the spirit and it makes the Bible and God a club. We are told in Scripture that the Word of God is a Sword. It is precise. It can divide and cause us to discern God’s will for our lives. It is not a club. The design of the Word of God is to give us direction, not beat our brains out so that we can’t stand to hear or read the Word of God. Those of you who have never experienced legalism are very blessed and fortunate souls. To the rest of us, we know how painful our story is.
It is a never-ending battle of realizing that God made us accepted in the Beloved. In Christ, you are more than a conqueror. You are a joint heir with Christ. You are loved unconditionally. As a believer, you are set in God’s family. No longer bastards (oops! did I say King James English?) but sons and daughters of the living God!
Is that not the most amazing thing you have ever heard?