How to shipwreck everything

In the early days of Christianity two dangerous heresies presented themselves to the church: legalism and gnosticism.  Take your choice, either will shipwreck your faith.

Many Believers with Jewish roots embraced the lie of legalism: Jesus and the law.  Jesus clearly brought them into life through no effort of their own, but labor and laws kept the whole apparatus in motion.  It was a hamster wheel of performance with religion shouting from the sidelines, “IT’S NOT ENOUGH!  YOU MUST DO MORE!  More Bible reading!  More prayer!  More attention to witnessing!  More careful obedience to the law!”  Paul blasted the Galatians: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”  (Gal. 3:3)  Legalism in today’s church reveals itself in endless cycles of “recommitment”.  We cry tears at the altar, make pledges and promises, beat ourselves up, and decide one more time to “do better”.  But nothing really changes because it’s an empty system of human effort and determination.

But Greek believers chose Gnosticism:  Spiritual growth meant ever deeper experiences and knowledge.  We see it today in the frantic pursuit of supernatural experiences.  “If only I can get to those meetings and fall-out under the power of the Spirit, I’ll reach a new level of spirituality.”  Hogwash!   Gnosticism, too, is a hamster wheel of chasing ever deeper experiences:  “You’ve had Holy laughter?  But have you had gold dust fall on you?”  “Oh really?  Well what about an out-of-body experience?”  And so we run from here to there following signs, wonders and experiences.  (Signs and wonders are rather to follow us, but that’s for another day!)

The key to spiritual growth is neither deeper commitment, nor endless supernatural experiences.   It is in the simple choice of believing God.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ… for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”  (Romans 1:16-17)  Faith in what?  In the fact that Jesus has accomplished the entire work himself, and the only thing left for me to do is to believe that good news.  Everything begins and ends right there in the wonder of receiving all that God has so freely given.

7 thoughts on “How to shipwreck everything”

  1. Thank you Jesus for this then what you told me when don was here teaching you said something to me and I wrote it down your write about they are to follow us. have been reading it’s is so cool how you write and i’mm reading the same thing. I do believe and I am not shame of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was letting the disciple know him when Moses and the one profit forgot his name sorry, and way God wanted them to know Jesus and not the Law hello. All good, but just believe it’s a done deal.

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  2. Don!!! You’re once again Nailing it right on!! Legalism and Gnosticism. The two things dragging us all down. And yet… I see the church preaching Gnosticism all day long.

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  3. Why do you think Jesus said things such as this (found in Luke 6:46-)

    And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Every one that cometh unto me, and heareth my words, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like….

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    1. Hey Trig, Thanks for the great question. I hope you’re not misunderstanding me to be saying that it’s not important to follow Jesus and to do what He says. That’s what discipleship is all about. But is seems when God measures us, he uses the tape of faith. Faith is what seems to have excited Jesus, and he often assessed people by their “great faith”, “little faith”, and “lack of faith”. When the disciples asked Him what they should “do” in order to “work the works of God” (John 6:28), “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

      When we read the gospels it’s clear that the two things that Jesus spoke about most often were the Kingdom, and the call to believe or to have faith. And what is it we are called to believe? The good, glad news that Jesus has taken us as we are, removed our sin, made us alive, and adopted us into His family. When we “get” that, the “doing” becomes as natural to us as swimming to a fish. But when we get the cart before the horse and make it all about “how well I’m fulfilling my duties as a believer”, then our eyes are in the wrong place. If the question is about “How well am I doing?”, the answer becomes dangerous. If I am “doing well” I will be tempted towards self righteousness. (“I don’t need to go to the altar this Sunday, thank you. I’m doing quite well”). Or if I’m not “doing well”, then I become snared in guilt and condemnation, because I really seem to be an “inferior” Christian. Better to answer the question, “I am redeemed, loved, forgiven, and adopted in spite of my failures”, and THAT revelation is the thing that brings about life, change, and discipleship.

      I hope this helps. If not, please keep the conversation going. Blessings!

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      1. Guess I was misunderstanding you. I do see how what we do is a direct result of what we believe. I like your illustration of the fish, a fish doesn’t breath/swim in water cause he believes he’s a fish, but because he IS a fish. I reckon that if we do wicked deeds/speech yet tell ourselves we are “Christian” we deceive ourselves- as James 1:21-22 tells us, right?

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  4. You r so rt. Jesus broke away all “bound”aries of law. Those does, don’ts or regrets r gone. He is all that+much more!

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