We were studying Acts and Galatians this week and I heard an interesting sermon that drove home one of the points I have tried to illustrate here on Legacy Dad and when talking with other Christians.
In Acts, Paul is answering some followers who believe that only those circumcised are going to go to heaven and they were preaching this to other Christians. Some times people have the right intentions and are passionate about their faith but they have the teachings a little wrong.
Here is an example:
How are Christians supposed to dress?
How long can a Christian man's hair be?
Are Christians aloud to drink alcohol?
Are Christians aloud to have tattoos and piercings?
Let's look at some further clarifications.
True or False?
A Christian must be baptized to go to heaven?
A Christian that goes to Church 3 times per week will go to heaven before someone who only goes once a week?
All real Christians home school their children right?
Many Christians I talk too will tell you that all of these things have a bearing on our placement with God and the more you serve and do works for God, the more Christian you are.
However, the Bible tells us a different story.
We are saved by grace through faith alone, period.
Works do not equal salvation. These are merely steps in obedience of Gods Law.
In Luke 23, one of thieves on the cross believed Jesus was the son of man and was told by Jesus “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Was the thief baptized? Did he attend Men's Study Group weekly? No.
Does this mean if we have faith we can now just run wild and live our lives recklessly? Certainly not. I believe that once a person accepts Christ and is saved they are moved personally to works in service of God.
But works do not bring us closer to salvation and it irritates me when some Christians go around and preach this.
"A good Christian woman only wears dresses"
"A Christian would never drink wine."
"We go to church 3 times per week."
"Look at the boy dressed in Goth, he must not be saved."
Why do some Christians believe this? I believe that true faith puts us in an uncontrollable situation, thats why the saying goes "A Leap of Faith"
Doing extra things appeals to the flesh and gives us some control. However faith is a leap with no control.
I also believe that many Christians want to belong and some latch on and spend everyday in fear that they will not go to Heaven by grace through faith, that they need to do more in order to win God's favor.
When I meet these people in person or online, I can tell they are unhappy and they believe the answer is doing more works. I sometimes wonder if they ever stop and enjoy God's grace?
Look at some Articles of Faith and see what I mean or venture to some popular Christian online forums and ask this very question. Many will tell you that you must do more to be saved.
I however, will take my guidance from the Bible. In closing, lets look at what Peter said in Acts 15 on this very topic:
"God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
We do not need to do more to be saved, we need to do more because we are already saved.