Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The equation of salvation

Galations 2:17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Rob has a nice post on Jesus Plusims and drives home the literal Gospel message. The literal Gospel is a paradox to a modernistic mode of thinking, because we receive without merit. It defies the boot-strap mentality often misattributed to Christian culture.

I've long held to rejecting Jesus Plusisms and a critical understanding of Galations as a first step to maturity, not only because it frees me from a lot of unneccesary spiritual burden, but because it helps me identify those with whom I clearly share a faith. It is virtually impossible to have koininia with anyone who believes salvation is achieved by faith in Jesus + anything else.

It's the paradox of Christian faith. As much as God desires our obedience, we are still given path to heaven only by faith in Christ. However, we must be careful to avoid Jesus Minusisms as well.

Jesus + works does not equate to salvation, but Jesus minus works should call into question one's faith. Jesus + doctrine most clearly does not equate to salvation, but Jesus - doctrine is baseless ... Which Jesus do you believe in?

This is why I think Paul always balanced his profession of the simple Gospel by explaining how the simple Gospel inspires him to passionately pursue physical, emotional, and mental conformity with the nature of God (as perfectly reflected in the life of Christ on earth). In Galations, Paul uses "Gospel" and "grace" interchangably, because grace is the driving factor. As we are saved by grace, we are bondservants to grace, to serve God and man by and with the same grace.

To Paul, the question never seemed to be "What can I get away with and still get into heaven?" To Paul, the question always seemed to be, "If God has given this perfect act of grace and mercy for me, how could I not hunger to honor him?"

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