Friday, May 28, 2010

Let's HOPE They Don't.......

The Westminster Confession of Faith has one extremely interesting statement in it, with which most Baptists would disagree. At least it seems that way to me.

The statement:

IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.


NOTE: We Baptists don't believe that, in general, yet we all-too-often see someone who is just the best Baptist ever, who leaves that faith, or does something else so egregious that we're apt to say they never really were a Christian, anyway. In effect, we're saying the same thing, but we're claiming it's their fault, and not God's.

The part that gets my attention is the first part .. about folks who are called by the ministry of the word. What I can envision is that some folks see how Christians live .. at least how we're supposed to live .. see that as an attractive life .. desire to have that kind of life .. equate that with "church" .. and go join one. Oh, they may agree with the requirements .. agree they are sinners .. agree that they need to repent .. and agree to stop sinning. But all of that can be done without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, and the conviction of sin.

Frankly, I'm afraid that, all too often, that's what we do. We get people to agree with us about sin, and agree with us about repentance.

Jesus said plainly that it'd be the Holy Spirit Who convicts of sin. We don't get to do that, ourselves.

Without Godly conviction, there's no Godly repentance (which means changing your mind .. thinking differently, anyway). I recall about 25 years ago, an acquaintance at work got saved and her department manager said "Of course .. look at the life she led .. who wouldn't want to stop living like that and join a church?" That department manager equating Christianity with a good way to live; better than what this person had lived up to that time.

Some time back, I put up a blog post called What The World Needs To See. My thought, in that, was that I didn't just want to "show how" a Christian should live. I wanted to actually be how a Christian should be .. and there's a big difference.

Recently, I saw a comment on a blog in which the comment stream had been rather heated. The comment lamented what might happen if the "lost world" should see how believers were acting on the blog. That we weren't living "attractive lives" in our writing. And that thought spurred this thought in me: I hope people aren't attracted to "Christianity" by how I live. Certainly, my life cannot, and I repeat cannot, contradict what the Bible says. But what needs to attract people to Jesus is their own sinful state, and the condemnation under which they are living if they're lost.

Christianity is not about happiness, or having good friends, or even about fulfillment. It is about sin, the horrible condemnation brought by our sin, and the loving remedy offered us by God in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Who died an ugly, painful, bloody death, on Calvary. In your place, and mine.

It was not until I felt my personal guilt for that, that I could even say I loved Jesus. Because the realization of my own guilt was what put real meaning in the forgiveness and restoration He promised to me.

He keeps His promises.

Let us not make any promises of our own, about being a Christian. Let us promise only what Jesus does, to those who repent under the unbearable weight of their sin, and turn to the only One who is able to take over that weight.

May it never be said that someone decided to "make a commitment" because they found my life attractive.

3 Comments:

At 3:17 PM, May 28, 2010, Blogger Aussie John said...

Bob,

How good it was to read that!

 
At 11:36 PM, June 01, 2010, Anonymous Lee said...

Attraction is the key marketing strategy in the Christian church, at least, in American culture it is. It took a long, long time during the 18 months that our search team was looking for a pastor to get them to the point where they didn't habitually use the term any more in reference to someone they wanted to investigate. It was difficult for them to consider a job description in which they didn't use the term as part of his responsibilities. I finally asked them one night if they thought they needed a pastor whose name, face, reputation or celebrity status would attract people because they didn't think the Holy Spirit could do that. They backed off, but they still think part of his job is to attract people.

If we are attracted to Christian faith because of the attractiveness of some of its followers, in terms of their physical or emotional attraction, or their oratory skills or entertainment value, how will we ever know the Spirit has moved on us?

Well said, as usual.

 
At 6:27 AM, June 02, 2010, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, guys. I don't know about other "denominations", but I know about Baptists, and it's a sad situation these days.

 

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