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The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 8 of 10

June 30, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 8 of 10

Religion says, Life is more about works, so work hard, because you want to be confident in what you do when you stand before God.

When religious people are asked, Are you sure your sins are forgiven at the cross of Christ?, they reply, I hope so. The reason for uncertainty is because they base their worth to God on good works, trying to please Him enough so they are allowed into heaven when they stand before God. Religious people think that if they sin tomorrow (and they will), then all those hours helping out on a certain ministry team have gone to waste and they have to do more work in order for God to consider them His.

Gospel says, My standing before God is contingent on Jesus alone. I am secure and redeemed because of Jesus.

Please read First John 5:11-14.

John supports the Gospel here by saying that if you believe in the person of Jesus and in HIS work on the cross, you can know with assurance that your standing before God is secure and therefore live in the joy of that gift. Religion has no chance against the work of Jesus. Gospel wins Round 8.  

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 98

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June 30, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

Truth

June 24, 2010

If you did not know, my bride and I have three amazing children. When they were born, they were so very small that they would lie on my chest and look like they were reclining on a couch. They did not stay this way, they grew. They took in nutrients from what they ate and grew. Their growth did not happen overnight, but it sure seemed to.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self‑control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak‑willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth–men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” We just read all of the areas that I would never encourage my children to learn or digest. Now that they are getting older I can see that I have exposed them to some of these, argh. It has been many years since their birth, and they can not even lay on my chest for a couch, argh. I so desire for them to not only learn but to acknowledge the truth.
As they’ve grown physically, emotionally, and spiritually all of their needs need to be founded in the truth. Oh to be set free from all of the godlessness that surrounds our life. We need to break free of it and not just learn, but grow in His truth. It is this truth that will allow us to completely live our life for Him. See John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Break free of living and don’t just learn to learn but learn to understand truth. Live your life out loud for Him.

Mark

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 7 of 10

June 23, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 7 of 10

Religion says, I’m focused on external things. I care about the visible things a person does.

Gospel says, Don’t overlook the internal, invisible life of the heart where true motives lie.

To people in love with religion, how one appears on the outside before people is far more important than how they appear on the inside to God. Generally speaking, depending how much unbiblical kool-aid a person has consumed, religious people never allow themselves to appear overweight, disorganized, lazy, or even sinful. They have a hard time confessing their sins to their spouse and children because to confess sin would be to admit that their external, visible life is out of order. This would destroy their precious image they invested years into, but they’re not fooling God. He sees who they really are.

The Gospel is concerned FIRST with our inner self. Colossians 3:5 is incredibly helpful saying, Put to death what is earthly in you. God alone knows my heart and He tells me that the key to spiritual life is to put to death what is sinful inside of me.

For application purposes, if the Gospel is my compass, and not religion, then I won’t labor so hard to appear as a godly and righteous man on the outside but will humbly confess my sin and live in repentance. Only then will I be changed on the inside, which will naturally lead to change on the outside.

Religion likes to look good, Gospel likes to be good. Gospel wins. 7 in a row.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 97-98

June 23, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 2 Comments

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 6 of 10

June 16, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 6 of 10

Religion says, It’s all about me.

If you know a selfish person, they are very difficult to live with. They think that God, their spouse, their children, their friends, co-workers, and the rest of humanity should obey and serve them as a mini-god. This is why they become angry over little things – friends stopping by unannounced, children coming to dinner late, a wife’s friend coming over for emotional support. They only think of things that happen around them inwardly, with the thought, How can this benefit me?

Gospel says, It’s not about me at all.

If religion rules over you, then your life is very selfish, and a selfish life is in contrast to the gospel. Philippians 2:1-11 says that Jesus is the most unselfish Person who has or will ever live. He exemplified this by a constant willingness to live for God’s glory, and to give me my salvation by suffering on the cross.

Jesus spoke of Himself as our example of dying to self and living for others in Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

When Religion says, It’s all about me, my rules, my interests, my life, it believes and behaves very worldly. And because of that, Gospel wins Round 6. We are not to be worldly, we are to be holy.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 97

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

Gangrene

June 10, 2010

Gangrene is the death of tissue—okay pleasant thought for a Thursday morning—though immediately I think of being out in the cold, the skin turns color and dies. (Gangrene is actually a common ailment that has increased significantly mostly due to diabetes and other poor circulation issues.) At the point the tissue starts to die, the effected area changes its appearance, as it rots it smells, and finally all feeling is lost.

In second Timothy 2:14-26 “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” We read the fact that we can use the Word to benefit God, or to benefit those around or our own interests. We must use the word to spread the message given to us by God, and not use it to vomit agendas or inaccurate beliefs to further someone elses or even our own thoughts.

This is an area of danger, as I am sure we all would agree to this. I am passionate about the Word and have a strong fear of using scriptures inappropriately. I strive to always use the passage before and after a verse to make sure that I am not taking it out of the context that it has been written. Corruption of the Word will lead to death and devaluing the Word. The Word is alive, living and breathing and as we use it, read it, and study it will keep it alive for others to use. If we keep it closed both literally and figuratively, is it allowed to live? To keep everyone from settling into a life without the Word will allow a lack of use and will create poor circulation, which can lead to death of His message and your relationship.

Read it, allow it, and live it out loud.

Mark

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 2 Comments

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 5 of 10

June 9, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 5 of 10

Religion says, Hardship is an unloving punishment.

Gospel says, Hardship is a sanctifying discipline.

To start this one off, God does deal with the sins of Christians. Scripture examples show us that even death is a consequence of a Christian who remains unrepentant. Ananias and Sapphira (don’t name your kids these names no matter how cool they sound) dies in Acts 5:1-11 as a result of stealing from and lying to God. Christians in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 die as a result of taking the Lord’s Supper without repenting of sin. And to continue the good news, in James 5:13-18 God speaks of Christians becoming sick because of unrepentant sin, and 1 John 5:16 speaks of sin that leads to death.

In Hebrews 12:5-13, God reminds us that He is the loving Father who disciplines, chastises, or punishes His children appropriately, sometimes painfully, because He loves them. He does it for our good so our faith in Him can grow. Some hardship does come from God’s holy hand as a consequence for rebellious sin. HOWEVER, when He disciplines me, He doesn’t condemn me and certainly never breaks His relationship with me. He is never cruel, harsh, vindictive, or uncaring with His children. And throughout all the discipline and hardship we face, God is with us all the way.

Remember what David said in Psalm 23:4? Eat that Religion. Gospel wins Round 5.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 93

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

Endure!

As you read 2 Timothy 2:11-13 a verse that is plain and simply put. You could even sing it, try the chorus of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”, an old hymn, okay if you know me, music is not my forte. I may be completely wrong, but that song popped into my head, well the line “Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, Deeper than the mighty rolling sea.”

“11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;

12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.”

As I read this verse I am reminded that I will need to endure, to be with Him forever. Looking back over my life, there are many moments that I remember missing the mark of what Christ wants from me. I so desire to live up to this standard and I often fall flat on my face. Very similar to the time I was playing outside one winter day, I put on dress shoes to slide on the ice better, but when I walked along the neighbors wall, I  slipped and landed flat on my face, with my left arm somewhere between. It was several days later that I found out I had fractured my left arm. I remember that three foot fall vividly. I feel, that fall when I let down God and do not endure. It is when I try to walk on the wall without the correct shoes, or being firm in the Gospel, see Ephesians 6:15. Throughout my Christian walk I understand know that no matter what, because we live in an imperfect world, I will suffer. With Him, I will endure.

Live it out loud.

Love,
Mark

June 3, 2010 Posted by | Mark | , , | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 4 of 10

June 2, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 4 of 10

Religion says, It’s all about getting what you can from God.

Too many times I’ve seen Jesus offered as the means to an end. The false gospel of religion says that if you come to Jesus, God will make you healthy, wealthy, good-looking, successful, and He’ll also throw in perfect kids as a bonus. In the religion based life, God exists to give us rules by which we can live in our own little self-ran kingdoms that we’ve established. But the real Gospel is not about getting what we can from God.

Gospel says, It’s all about getting God Himself.

The goal of the Gospel is to get God into our lives, not to put us into His world. He is our greatest treasure, our highest joy, our ultimate source of life. And these things are true whether I’m rich or poor, healthy or sick, living or dying, happy or sad, good-looking or not so good-looking.

Doesn’t that sound like marriage vows? They are – Christ is your husband and you are the bride. This example is most clearly seen in Jesus on the cross where He gave nothing less than Himself as a gift to us. Religion loses Round 4.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 95

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment