A “Christ Plus” Faith

My last post, A Story of Separation and Salvation, discussed the promise of reconciliation we have in Jesus Christ that the Apostle Paul speaks of in Colossians 1.21-23.  I asked the question of whether we could have faith in the reconciling work of God in Christ or must we put our faith in Christ plus __________.  A “Christ plus” faith is a faith that requires something in addition to Christ to find reconciliation with God and ultimately salvation.

It is important to remember that our alienation from God is not just propositional. it’s also  existential.  That is to say that alienation from God is separation from the very breath and source of life.  It’s a slow death physically, spiritually, socially, and so on.  Even more, it’s a death that is felt in the core of our being and experienced throughout life from the damaged relationships to violence to hatred and so on…and we want, we long for, something to be done about it.

The gospel of Jesus Christ essentially says that God has done remedied the situation through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It’s called salvation and it will be brought to its fullness in the second-coming of Jesus Christ when all things are made new.  Yet as believers in Jesus Christ, we still struggle to have faith in this work of God and nothing else.

Some believers are becoming syncretistic by turning to new age spirituality and other religious beliefs/practices.  I’m not entirely sure why this has become so attractive so I won’t speculate.  However, I will say that to do such shows a complete lack of faith in God’s ability to bring about reconciliation in Christ and ultimately transform and renew creation into new creation.

Other believers have developed a “Christ plus” faith by relying on Christ plus their sense of religious legalism or intellectual ability to know and practice the right doctrines believing that these additions are necessary requirements for salvation.  So the religious legalist creates a list of do’s and don’ts that must be maintained in order to have salvation in Christ.  The fundamentalist believes that salvation hinges upon having the correct belief on a number of doctrinal issues.  Just think of how many Christians have been told that one sip of wine will doom them to hell or how many Christians have been doomed to hell over the view they held on the millennial issue (i.e., a-millennialism, pre-millennialism, post-millennialism).

The problem is that when we doom someone to hell because they do not hold to a practice or belief we feel is biblical, we are also saying that God is dooming that person to hell for the very same reason.  Yet this ultimately says that we need not just Christ for our salvation but Christ plus our list of legalistic rules to be kept or Christ plus our right intellectual understanding of doctrinal issues to achieve salvation.

What it all boils down to is this: Is God’s work in Christ sufficient for our salvation?  If so, can we have faith in God’s work in Christ alone?

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9 responses to “A “Christ Plus” Faith

  1. Who is “dooming people to hell”? “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Mat. 7:1). “Do not say who will rise up or who will go down…” ( –something like that, in the scripture, somewhere.)

    WHO are you talking about? WHAT you are discussing here is WORSHIP. It is not about –condemning people to hell.

    “If you love me, you will obey my commandments,” (See Mat.19:16 and following). We do our best to “worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23). Because of all the made-up non-biblical doctrines, and creeds, ways to worship, catechisms, ways to be saved, different teachings on baptisms, and such; and the untold numbers of ‘Christian’ Churches, the Catholic Church, and multitudes of protestant denominations; where on earth would one turn to find the truth, the one true church, that we read about in the Bible New Testament?

    Well, we turn to the Bible, the Word of Jesus, the unchanging Word of God, (God’s New Testament for all mankind, sealed on the cross by the blood of Jesus). We eat and drink of Jesus our Christ, of God, of the inspiration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit as evidenced through the Apostles and the power of their teachings, as authorized, and confirmed for all to hear and see, not to be added or subtracted from. Realize that churches of Christ are one in body, and Christ’s church exists not because some earthly higher authority, declares himself (or by others) to be a link between man and God. The scriptures tell us that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, and no other man, (or woman), or by any religious organization headquartered somewhere telling people what to do, how to worship,what to teach and what to preach, or whatever. All anyone has to do is read and study their Bible, and the more of God’s word people digest, and thirst for, the closer they are in finding themselves coming together with people of like mind; that is, the church of Christ (not a religious denomination}. That is, the church of the Bible, started in 33 AD , on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem. (Read the book of Acts),

    So in conclusion here; we worship the way we do in churches of Christ, because we want to be as close to God’s Word, as best we can. As per the scriptures, we choose not to add or subtract from what we are commanded, nor to make substitutions, or come to worship in such a manner as to merely entertain ourselves, or to appear and feel holy. For example, because of what we (Christians) read in the Bible New Testament (that is; the new covenant from God to man), we do not believe that it is proper to play musical instruments, –when God’s word for Christians explicitly commands us to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20). History shows us that musical instruments were first added in churches hundreds of years later, by men. Does that mean that we “doom people to hell,” because they believe that it is okay to add musical instruments to their worship services, for whatever reason? Of course not! It is not for us to judge, but maybe to share of what we have learned from studying the Bible, the word of God As for ourselves, we will continue to worship God in spirit and in truth, as best we know how, –although we are saved by faith, through the grace of God, and not by our own good works, –because we all fall short; and we all need that grace which our Savior freely offers us.

    I could say a lot more here, but I hope that I have said enough to make my point, and cause some people to think, and read their Bibles more closely. Grace and Peace, –dc (See you at worship services. May God continue to inspire and stir you in the words you preach, and lead you as He would have you to know and preach; because I know you love the Lord and walk and live in the good faith.) (I know you must be doing something right, because of your baptisms, –and how you visit the sick, help the needy, and call to see how I am doing, and if I am all right, your home small group Bible study’s, and always alert and watching to see Christ working, and your praying unceasingly, and in everything that you say and do, you do in the name of the Lord, according to your beliefs.)

    Grace and Peace, — dc

    • Don,

      What if you are wrong on any of your conclusions regarding worship and so forth? Is God’s work in Christ still sufficient for your salvation (sufficient enough that you have confidence before God) or does salvation depend on getting these various worship issue correct?

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

      P.S., Thank you for your complimentary remarks.

  2. Why is it when I try to reply the background is black, and I can’t see what I am typing? gg

  3. Okay, Now it is showing correctly, white on black, — when I get here by clicking the link on my received e-mail from WordPress. So, now I have it figured out: The situation always arises when I just go directly to your website and try to reply. I assume that is how it is supposed to work, with proper registering.

    Replying to: “What if you are wrong on any of your conclusions regarding worship and so forth? Is God’s work in Christ still sufficient for your salvation (sufficient enough that you have confidence before God) or does salvation depend on getting these various worship issue correct?”

    Well, that sounds like a fair enough question, although a bit confusing; so I find myself reading it over and over again, to understand it.

    No, I do not believe salvation depends on getting various worship issues correctly. However; Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments,” which does not mean that it is okay to disregard all or any of the words in the New Testament that would not be printed red in a red-letter edition of the Bible. Also, Jesus said that he preferred obedience from us over sacrifice. (Jesus was and is God’s perfect sacrifice for our sins, by grace through faith, and not of our good works, lest any man should boast. –That is what saves us.)

    The problem would be, that if we knowingly choose to add or subtract from the word of God, (for whatever reasons) or if we do not love God enough to cherish and love his Word, or to study and obey His teachings, to worship Him in spirit and in truth, (over the teachings of men) than I would say that one should be concerned.

    When dealing with those who are in a different place than we are, in their walk and faith in the Lord, we certainly should not be a stumbling block, that would in any way hinder their faith, or diminish the love that they do have for the Lord God. At this point we need to look in the book of Romans, all of Chapters 14 and 15: 1-22. ‘The Weak and the Strong.’
    Especially notice the last two verses in chapter 14, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

    I do experience and believe that one gains wisdom, through their Christian walk through the years. All I have to do is to look back on my own experiences. I have been at many points along this walk, until I got where I am today, and I am still growing, until the day the Lord takes me up. Would it make sense to consider myself condemned to hell, while I was still a Lutheran, or had not learned yet what the Bible says about baptism. What would have happened to me, If I had died before I was really convinced that what I was learning from a church of Christ group home Bible study, was correct or not? I remember confronting myself with that very issue at the time. My personal comfort came to me in knowing that God was knowing how much I was studying his word, and He certainly would not condemn me for my love and faith, and my hunger and thirst for God’s truth.

    Well, this is getting very long, but I hope there is something here said that makes sense, and helps to answer your question, …with God’s help.

    Peace and Grace, –dc

  4. Rex,
    One more thought… Let’s take the example of ‘using instrumental instruments in worship services’, instead of just doing what God’s word actually tells his worshipers to do, and following the pattern set down for us in the early church of the New Testament, What if we added things to the worship services, to please ourselves, just because God didn’t say we couldn’t?

    Tell me; would anyone at all ever believe that it is a sinful to do what the Scriptures actually tells us to do? Would anyone at all argue against singing acapella only, without adding musical instruments? The answer is: Of course not. Was the early church doing wrong because they didn’t add musical instruments to their singing? Should they have repented? And “What if they were wrong?”…

    Now, is there not at least a reasonable question by many that it might not be how God wants us to worship? The answer is yes. There are at least some legitimate doubts in play here. So, why take a chance?

    Now, let’s go back to your question, about what would I do, or what would be the consequences if I were wrong?
    Well, the answer is that there would be nothing for me to worry about, or any dire consequences. No one would contend that we HAVE TO use musical instruments in church worship services.

    The shoe really belongs on the other foot. What would YOU do if you are wrong? What if you are wrong, in saying it is okay to add something to worship services, just because God’s word doesn’t say we can’t. Where would we draw the line? When you tell, or ask, someone to do something, –should they assume that this means they are free to add or do anything else just because you didn’t say they couldn’t? I guess that is why we are getting all those silly labels all over commercial products these days. Nobody wants to be sued because they didn’t warn everybody what not to do with a product, like using a product for a purpose it was never intended.
    Don’t drink Draino, because it will kill you. Don’t dry your cat in this micro-wave oven. etc. etc.

    Grace and Peace, dc

    • Don,

      I am glad to hear you don’t believe that salvation hinges upon us getting all the various issues correct. Any ways, I think you are making a flawed assumption in the way you read the Bible and specifically the New Testament. You read it as though it is a constitutional law regarding everything that Christians can and cannot do (with an additional rule of silence being restrictive). Remember that the problem with sin was never the OT law…it was holy. So if keeping a bunch of laws regulating what Christians can and cannot do is what God was after, all God needed to do was keep us bound to the OT law. It makes absolutely no sense as to why God set us free from the rules and regulations of one law only to bind us to a different set of rules and regulations.

      This doesn’t mean that I believe Christians are free to live in sin. I firmly believe that we are to live by the Spirit and therefore exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Any ways, I hope you have enjoyed the conversation and thanks for your dialogue.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

      P.S., Jesus never said “I desire obedience not sacrifice.” What he did say is “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (cf. Matt 9.13).

  5. Rex, I am not done with you yet. I might have been thinking 1 Samuel 15:22 “…To obey is better than sacrifice,…” I am pretty sure that I have read this also in the New Testament, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment. It must be phrased a little differently. I didn’t write that “Jesus said that he desires obedience not sacrifice.” What I did write was: “Jesus said that he preferred obedience from us over sacrifice.” I was not suggesting that sacrifice is unimportant but that it is acceptable only when brought with an attitude of OBEDIENCE and devotion to the Lord.

    I still have a whole new discussion to talk to you about New Testament obedience. Yes; you are correct in that we are no longer under the curse of the Old Testament Laws of sin and death. However; if you scan through a New Testament concordance, Bible index, or something like Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which lists every word found in the Bible; and look under “OBEDIENCE” you may get a hint of what I am talking about. If we are not meant to abide by all the things that were written to the early church, nor follow their example, namely –the Bible New Testament, than why do we treasure the Word of God so much, and why was it written down, in order that we may posses “everything we need to know for life and Godliness”? (2 Pet. 1:3). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim 3:16-17).

    It seems like you are using scriptures cafeteria style in order to follow your own philosophy, or a philosophy taught to you by some, or one, of those college professors, or authors of their own books. I do NOT believe that they identify with the church of Christ. After all, this would limit their outreach; therefore it certainly is easier to go Billy Graham style, by not stepping on any Christian toes, or offending anyone’s beliefs or what they are teaching or doing, even when he knows when it is Biblically wrong, such as “how to be saved.” He just draws them into the local churches of all denominations, as just an evangelist, with all their combined support, to bring people to his crusades; then the elders of the different local denominational churches are free to teach the new converts whatever they want, while none of them believe the same thing in their entirety nor in many important issues; different baptisms for different denominations, and creeds and such created by men. But, the Bible teaches that there is ONE church, ONE faith, ONE baptism, and that they should all be ONE in Christ. (Eph. 4:5). (Yes; I know Billy Graham is now retired, due to old age and declining health. Also, I am not saying he hasn’t brought many many people to Christ, as purely an evangelist, and not a church leader or elder. He just draws them in to the various churches, with their support, and then the new converts begin their journey from there. He has stated that the reason he doesn’t go further, is because then he would just be following in the footsteps of many unsuccessful evangelists who went before him. He studied it out, and found out what worked. That is why it would be difficult for say, a preacher from a church of Christ, because he would be offending too many people and stepping on too many toes, so there would be no such support from those outside churches. The Bible says that only “few” will enter in; and I take that to mean comparatively so.

    I believe that if we love God, we will want to do what God has taught us. Jesus told his disciples to go and baptize all nations, teaching them the things, whatever that he has commanded. He also told them that he would send the Holy Spirit, and that he would be with them always, to the end of the world. What should we teach all nations about baptism, for one example. Will we show them the truth in the Bible, or will we shrug our shoulders and say: “What if we are wrong?” Jesus said, if you love me you will OBEY my commandments. The scriptures are loaded with these kind of verses, such as Proverbs 21:3, Rom. 1:14, 6:16, 16:19; 2 Cor. 9:13, 10:15; Philemon 21; Heb. 5:8; 1 Peter 1:2, to name a few. We know that we all fall short, and need God’s grace to save us, and that we are not saved by works (Eph. 2:38); but that faith without works is no faith at all. ( Book of James). Jesus has fulfilled and overcome the laws of the Old Testament. However, it only stands to reason, that If we love God, we will hang on his every word, which is truth, and love; so true I think that sometimes it seems like it is beyond our own comprehension, as to how true and beneficial and good it actually is. We are continually taking Christ in, feeding on the body and blood of Jesus, in communion, through His word, that is in the Bible, the true vine to God, and we being continually transformed in the process, –a work in progress, in preparation for eternity in the presence of God in heaven.

    Grace and Peace. –dc

    • Don,

      Why do you feel free to proof-text scripture without regard to the historical context of the said scripture(s)? Is this not just a rewriting or rearrangement of the way scripture has been given to us for an ad hoc purpose?

      As far as what I believe the purpose of scripture, Old and New Testament, is about…to point us to and make us more like Jesus.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

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