I follow a blog called “Fjords of Zion.” I’m reprinting the article here as well as my comment. What do you think? Off the rails, or am I missing something good this guy is saying? You decide.
God accepts you on the basis of what you DO
07/24/2010 by Haydn
That’s right: according to The Trellis and the Vine (p. 43). It says, loud and clear, “To be a disciple [of Jesus] is to be a disciple-maker”. So, methinks, what happens if I get to the end of my days and meet my Maker and He refuses me entry to the pearly gates because I never brought another soul to Jesus. What a rip-off. I’d be well to ask Him, “I thought you’d justify by identifying myself in your blood and resurrection”. According to this book, His answer would be:“Sorry to disappoint you, but you didn’t fulfill the Great Commission. Yes, you were supposed to bring at least 1 person to Christ and you didn’t even fill the rest of your quota. You’re not good enough as you are because you were supposed to pull your finger out”. I have never brought another person to Christ that I know of and I also know that even if I never do in my lifetime, that I am still accepted and loved by God more than I could ever know. My acceptance, justification and future with Him isn’t dependent on what I do. And that’s the message of Christianity. How can a Christian do works of ministry that God’s prepared for His people if they don’t have His love in their hearts? If not, a Christian can do acts of spiritual service not out of overflowing gratitude towards God and love for others but because they have to, out of fear of eternal punishment, and not out of love.
According to The Trellis and The Vine, ministry is a requisite for any Christian to be acceptable to God. No ministry to demonstrate, no rewards in the life to come. In my last post on this book, I mentioned how the authors used that horrid phrase, “growing new work”. That means basically if you’re a Christian who’s not working at growing the Kingdom, you’re wasting space, using up resources, and sticking in everyone’s craw. What’s the message? Get to work and become a productive member of society because if you aren’t doing work then you’re supposed to be growing it like a hydrangea shrub with steroids, fertiliser, stem cells, and anything else you can lay your hands on.
TATV went a step further with this doctrine on p. 41: “This means that the two fundamental activities of Christian ministry are proclaiming (speaking the Word) and praying (calling upon God to pour out His Spirit to make the word effective in people’s hearts”. It made me wonder: what about practising what they preach? Isn’t that a core fundamental to Christian ministry? Godly example? After all, people copy what they see, not necessarily what they’re told. This is a Monkey-See-Monkey-Do universe, not Monkey-Hear/Read-Monkey-Do. This really hits the road when some folk hear sermon after sermon after sermon and still don’t have Christ in their hearts and are still living in sin. They’re hearts are still distanced from God and they cannot adore or worship Him with fullness of heart because noone’s demonstrated Christ to them. They’ve gone to church and having been pigeon-holed as THAT guy with THAT problem and been passed around from one person to another like a hot coal, they lose any hope that anyone has the time for them. They fall through the cracks because nobody wants them and while countless 0thers have promised to follow them up and model Christ to them and they leave church, never wanting to know Jesus or go to a church again. Eventually they get forgotten and if someone does remember them, the conversation at church will be, “Whatever happened to that guy Robert, the one who was doing it tough with a Muslim wife?” “Dunno, actually. Pete was meant to be following him up but I guess it never happened. *tut tut* Oh well, I guess he’s lost now; it happens all the time, eh? I guess he was never one of us”. D.A. Carson is purported to have once offered a non-Christian the opportunity to live in his house for a month in order to show him what it means to live as a Christian; and that’s a great example to follow. I’ve never heard of a pastor here in Australia ever offering to do that.
A Christian is someone who does what they say: they practise what they preach before they preach what they practise. They model Christ and they may never need to explain their faith in words because they’re actions will likely speak for themselves. They’re real about their weaknesses and brokenness and don’t act like the ‘solid’ Christians that churches revere as splendid examples of holy obedience. Those are the people that make Jesus real and attractive and Magnificent.
And my reply:
The only problem is that…nothing in this post’s main premise is actually taught in Scripture. Sure, the gospel has fruit in the life of a believer…but to make a statement that Christians “practice what they preach before they preach what they practice” is patently false.First, the content of our preaching is to be Christ crucified for our sins. This is not what WE do, but what CHRIST has done.Second, by that statement, you yourself are not a Christian. Think about it. You do not keep the Law perfectly. You don’t love God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength…you do not love your neighbor as yourself. Not perfectly, which is what God demands.So how is any of this material you’ve been reading GOOD news?
Dawn K said:
Using the Law to motivate people to share Christ with others (“If you don’t lead people to Christ you’re not a true Christian”) is not going to work very well. It never worked very well in my life. The whole emphasis on “leading people to Christ” is focused way too much on human activity – it is God who brings people to Himself through His Word. It’s like people want to boast about how many people they “led to Christ” when it’s the Word that does everything.
That being said, the answer to this mindset is not “practice what you preach before you preach what you practice.” No one would ever preach anything if they waited until they truly practiced what they preached. The answer is that one must be confident that their sins are forgiven before they will feel free to share that good news with others.
David, you hit the nail on the head. And Dawn, I couldn’t agree with you more.
While reading this post, I couldn’t help but think of what’s happening with people moving from seeker-sensitivism/purpose-drivenism to emergent liberalism – people leaving one type of legalism for another. Both models focus on some kind of kingdom building done by people who believe they have to “do something” for Christ, rather than realizing that Christ will build His church, through the Word of God.
I don’t know where the original writer stands doctrinally, but I understand what he’s reacting against. However, his conclusion seems to be of the mindset that one must “live the gospel”, which is impossible because we cannot live today what Christ did for us 2000 years ago.
Thanks for the visit and the comment, Geoff. I think I understand what he’s reacting against as well.