Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Post Last Summer: Following Up

Last summer I printed the following post:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NIV)

Years ago a friend of mine told me he was not into evangelism because the more converts he had, the more backsliders he had. Of course that is not a reason to hold back on evangelism, but it makes us wonder why it sometimes seems to be so.

Here is a major reason. The new Christian often is not taught to live the Christian life the same as he was taught to receive Christ. He is taught a different way of living than he was taught of receiving. That is why he falls. The new Christian received Christ by grace through faith. He did not receive Christ by “try” or by “effort.” He is not to live by “try” or by “effort.” He is to live by grace through faith. In other words, the Christian life should be like being born again every day.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.68)

I received a reply from Hopeful which I did not answer at the time. Here is her reply and my answer which I hope will be a help to her and for others who have the same question.

From Hopeful:

I don't understand what this means. How does living the Christian life NOT involve effort if we are to strive to make our calling and election sure, and if we created for good works (surely work involves effort) in Christ? I really don't get this.

My answer:

Dear Hopeful,

I checked several translations and none of them say "strive" to "make your calling election sure" in 2 Peter 1:10. Here are a few scriptures which may help you do away with pre-Christian effort.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Galatians 3:1-5 (NIV)--notice "by human effort?"

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." Romans 1:17 (NIV)--notice "from first to last"

When Christians "try" they use their own energy. When we "try" we do not "trust" God. When we "try" we trust ourselves.

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29 (NIV)--notice "all His energy"

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3--notice "His divine power" and "everything we need for life and godliness"

Yes "good works" are the result of our salvation but they are "the fruit of the Spirit" good works.

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