Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Law Is the Final Word

At least, it is according to almost everybody in the whole wide world.

Other religions teach that works are how we please the god or how we gain heaven or nirvana or whatever.  Be good; get a reward.  When I was having a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness about eating turkey on Thanksgiving and celebrating birthdays, that's what it came down to: "follow the rules, get a blessing from god."

Other Christian denominations too teach the same thing.  Yes, they admit that the Lord (the eternal God of the promise of salvation, the God who is triune and whose nature is love) helps us be good.  And yes, they admit that the Lord forgives our screw-ups for when we're not good.  But the point of religion is still to Be Good.  That's essentially what the Roman Catholic's purgatory and the Eastern Orthodox's theosis end up being about.  (Of course, most of them would deny it.)   And it's what most Protestants teach.  (And I'm sure they too would deny it.  And that's a good thing; it means their rational minds are conflicted against the saving faith worked in them by the Holy Spirit.)

It's even a controversy among Lutherans.  While no Lutheran would disagree with the necessity for good works, and while no Lutheran would disagree with the truth that we are saved by God's grace in Christ through no merit of our own, there are still many who (somehow) come off sounding like the point of the Gospel/forgiveness is to make us able to do a better job of following the Law.

In Bible class last Sunday we were discussing Luke 5.  The Pharisees and teachers of the law had come from all over the place, from Galilee, but also from way down in Judea and from Jerusalem.  They wanted to check out this Jesus dude and the stories they'd been hearing.  And when he forgave the sins of the paralyzed man, they were hacked off.  "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Pastor had other points to make, but for the most part, I got lost, thinking and thinking about why the legalists were there and why they were perturbed.  We live in a [ahem] diverse society today.  Everybody thinks they should be able to do whatever they want.  Everybody should be able to think whatever they want.  Children grow up and reject what was imparted to them.

SO ... what does it hurt anybody for Christians to believe in grace

Why do people fuss about it?

Okay, okay, IF we purportedly believe in grace and then live in sin that hurts other people, then I can understand people saying, "Whoa, hold up!  Your so-called freedom in the Gospel is damaging me."  And that would be valid.  But if the law is being preached rightly, and the gospel is forgiving sinners, then licentiousness can result only through rejection of true doctrine.

So why the objection to people trusting in grace?

Atheists object.  People of other religions object.  And even Christians want to convert other Christians to a belief that they have to Do SOMEthing to be real Christians.

If you don't want to trust only in God's grace in Jesus' blood shed to save you, if you want to depend to some extent on your own works, I can't change your heart.  But what skin is it off your nose if I believe that?

I don't understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment