"The great danger of Christian discipleship is that we should have two religions: a glorious, biblical Sunday gospel that sets us free from the world, that in the cross and resurrection of Christ makes eternity alive in us, a magnificent gospel of Genesis and Romans and Revelation; and, then, an everyday religion that we make do with during the week between the time of leaving the world and arriving in heaven. We save the Sunday gospel for the big crises of existence. For the mudane trivialities, . . . we use the everyday religion of the Reader's Digest reprint, advice from a friend, an Ann Landers column, the huckstered wisdom of a talk-show celebrity. We practice patent-medicine religion: we know that God created the universe, . . . [b]ut we can't believe that he condescends to watch the soap opera of our daily trials and tribulations."
- Eugene Peterson
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Isn't that the question that haunts so many believers the world over?
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. -- 1 John 1:3-6 (ESV)
Not that leading an ethical life makes one justified, but a justified sinner will necessarily begin to lead a more ethical life as he begins to "deny ungodliness and worldly lust."
This revelation has serious implications for American soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). I say "American soteriology" because I'm an American, and it's the only Babylon I know firsthand. But to speak even more specifically, the implications are particularly damning for, broadly speaking, American Protestants (for American Catholics, the soteriological danger comes in believing that one can be justified by faith and works -- it's a whole other mindset that leads to a different set of problems).
Bobby Protestant might say, "I have believed. I am saved." And then after comforting himself with that thought, Bobby fires up his laptop to view some more sexually explicit material; he's completely disconnected from the idea that sin is death, and that freedom in Christ means freedom from sin. He has no desire to pluck his eyes out. Listen to John Piper:
So I have learned again and again from firsthand experience that there are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the warnings of the Bible and puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of biblical threats. And this doctrine is comforting thousands on the way to hell.
Jesus said, if you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven.
The stakes are much higher than whether the world is blown up by a thousand bombs. If you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven.
"If you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven." Wow! Those words came out of the mouth of someone who believes in Perseverance of the Saints. He almost sounds like a UPC preacher exhorting holiness or hell, but the distinction is that he's not saying you can lose your salvation, he's saying that if you don't fight sin with bloody intensity, then you never had salvation to begin with.
The good news in all of this is we don't have to do anything apart from God's grace, and indeed we can't do anything apart from His grace. For, as Titus 2:11 & 12 says, "The grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age," and as Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
Follow Him. Treasure Him. Then die, go to heaven and be with Him -- forever.