Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Grace vs. Works Debate

For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourself, it is a gift of God, so that no man may boast. Eph. 2:8-9

The Grace vs. Works debate is a big one. The popular worldly view is if you are a "good person," you will go to heaven. For many, doing good things is what it's all about. If you are a good person, and live your life according to a set of morals and values, you will surely be ok, right?

Here is the problem with that scenario. Works do not create grace. Works are a result of grace. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." -Romans 3:23. None of us are able to live perfectly, so if we are saved by living a good life, where is the line? We would have to have a 'sin quota,' which would be absolutely impossible to keep track of. The reality is, there is no way anyone on Earth could live a good enough life to rely on our own works.

If we aren't saved by our works, does that mean we can sin freely without having to worry about it? Absolutely not! When you have received the saving grace of God, you must let that grace shine to the rest of the world. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16. By doing good works, we manifest the love and glory of God that has been bestowed upon us. Our works are a means to demonstrate to others the blessings of our Lord, and to identify us as his people. In addition, Jesus taught that hearing his words, but not actually putting them into practice, is like building a house on sand. (Matthew 7:24-27) If we profess to be followers of Christ, but disregard his teachings, we become more susceptible to corruption and the sways and temptations of the devil. One of the most powerful ways we can witness to others is by letting His grace shine through us. There is truth to the sentiment "actions speak louder than words." If we consciously demonstrate the grace of God in our day to day lives, we are truly ambassadors of Christ before we ever even speak to someone about salvation.

"Sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura,
solus Christus, soli Deo gloria" - Grace alone, faith alone,
scripture alone, Christ alone, glory to God alone.
Jesus taught that he is the only path to salvation. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

The fact is, our judgement is not based on what we have done. Christ became the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins because we could never measure up. No matter how hard we try, we cannot overcome our sinful nature on our own. Christ took up the burden of our sins for us, and in return gave us saving grace. All that is asked of us is that we have faith.

Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”(that is, to bring Christ down)“or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:4-13

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Perils of Being a Single Christian Woman

I will admit it, I am completely baffled by today's society. We live in the land of instant gratification. Anything we want can virtually be at our fingertips moments after we think it. While I will concede that this convenience can be really nice, in the larger picture I find it is representative of our over-all cultural mindset. How does this tie into being a single Christian woman? Stay with me here.

I was raised with the notion that an upstanding and moral woman is to be desired.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

It seems in today's society, though, that a woman who chooses to live by a set of values is to be scorned. Rather than being sought after, more often than not I feel shunned, earning labels like "uptight" (and other less pleasant terms). I find myself living in a society where attending church is unfashionable, and those who attend regularly are seen as extremists.

We live in an age where pornography is a $13 billion industry. A vast number of boys grow up forming their views of relationships on these violent and unrealistic images. Many go in search of instant gratification. Everything else in our society is ready and available, after all. My generation has been trained to get what we want, when we want it. That being so, we seem to have lost the concept of the pursuit, the journey.

I have to hold on to the faith that all hope is not lost, and there are still those out there that uphold a woman who chooses to serve the Lord. I will be the first to admit that I am far from perfect, and far from righteousness if being judged on my own actions. I will not, however, set aside my beliefs and moral fiber to fit in with society or gain affection from someone who tries to force me to settle for anything less than a harmonious union, with Christ as the tie that binds. Maybe, just maybe, there are still men who choose the same.