The Daily Word of Righteousness

Untying the Knot, continued

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11.12)

I guess what we are saying is that salvation and eternal life are not a one-time shot. The salvation that is in Christ is a continuing process we work out with meekness and fear, as the Scripture says. To claim that eternal life is some kind of ticket we get at one point and then cannot lose is to fly in the face of the Scriptures. It is to hold to a theological scheme deduced from a few verses and completely divorced from the reality of the Kingdom of God, from the Scriptures, and from life itself.

How do you feel about the first viewpoint? You can see at once that if a believer takes these positions he or she is going to get busy reading the Bible and doing what it says. Kind of simple and straightforward. Reminds one of old-fashioned Christianity. It is difficult for me to believe that any real Christian would have a problem with these responses to the four areas of difficulty.

Now let's take a look at how Evangelical theology views the four areas of disagreement.

* The consequences of not keeping the commandments.

* The approach we take to the commandments.

* The role of our own personality in keeping the commandments.

* What the results are of keeping the commandments.

The Evangelical viewpoint concerning the first area often is that there are no truly serious consequences of not obeying God's commandments. We ought to "try to do good" but if we don't there always is good ol' grace to bring us to Heaven. No one who has made a profession of Christ need have any fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ.

We can see right away there is an uncrossable gulf between the first viewpoint and the second viewpoint concerning the consequences of not obeying God's commandments, the first viewpoint holding that there indeed are serious consequences of not obeying the commandments. We think the second viewpoint is close to "You shall not surely die!"

We think it is right here—in the two differing viewpoints concerning the consequences of not keeping the commandments of Christ—that one finds the heart of the knot. If we can begin to unravel the problem here the rest may prove to be much easier. I expect a vicious fight over this point because when we claim that there are very serious—perhaps eternal—consequences of not obeying the New Testament commandments we are removing the security of millions of believers.

It appears the struggle over evolution (a foolish hypothesis, really!) does not stem from any substantial disagreement over observable facts but from the unwillingness of scholars to admit to a God and therefore to a day of reckoning.

Have we Evangelicals done the same thing with our "unconditional, eternal amnesty" for the individual who at one point makes a profession of belief in Christ? Are we maintaining that there is not coming a day of reckoning for us who believe in Christ and yet do not do what He had commanded?

To be continued.