CHRISTIANITY IS NOT ABOUT KEEPING RULES...
IT'S ABOUT TRUTH AND RELATIONSHIP
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
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What prompts me to write about this topic was a brief testimony I heard recently at the local church fellowship my wife and I are connected with. One of the missionaries our fellowship supports was there to speak to the assembly ' giving a brief overview of how God is using him and his family in the church in China. He shared that in the area God has called them to, it has a strong Muslim population.
He shared with us about one particular Muslim male he had been ministering to though 'friendship evangelism.' This Muslim friend recently asked him: 'You know we Muslims have rules to follow to get to heaven. If a person was to want to become a Christian, what rules must they follow to get to heaven?'
This missionary's response to him was: 'None.'
And how truthful his answer was and IS!
First and foremost, Christianity is about obtaining SALVATION. Salvation is about God's forgiveness of our sins. It is about having the penalty of sin(s) removed from our lives so we can be in right standing with God both now and on the Judgment Day. Salvation cannot be obtained nor secured by the keeping of rules -- obeying rules. It is obtained solely by our BELIEVING ' our TRUSTING - our FAITH. Believing ' trusting WHAT? Having faith in WHAT? Believing - having faith in THIS: Jesus Did It!
To reinforce: Receiving forgiveness from God for our sins is NOT obtained by the keeping of rules nor obeying commandments. Salvation is a FREE gift from God to each of us. Free isn't free if it costs us something.
But isn't Christianity also about obeying commandments once a Christian has entered into SALVATION, brother Norm? A dying person who sincerely seeks Salvation (Salvation meaning: Forgiveness of our sins from God the Father through trusting what Jesus Christ accomplished for them on the cross) does not have time to obey ANY commandments. If keeping commandments is required to obtain forgiveness for one's sins and having assurance that they will not be held against him/her, whereby NOT being allowed into heaven upon dying ' then Jesus lied to the thief on the cross!
And how about the many death-bed conversions that have happened since that time? The same would apply. Those people are NOT in heaven either, nor ever will be. The New Testament Bible does NOT say that a person is saved by faith AND the keeping of commandments. It clearly states that they are saved by their faith and faith ALONE! Faith in what Jesus DID for them ' Him paying the FULL price for their sins on the Cross.
If Satan can deceive us into believing that we must do something beyond our believing that Christ paid the penalty for all of our sins, then try to realize that what we are communicating to God that Jesus needs/needed a little help from us. NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Satan has tried to obscure that Truth shortly after Jesus resurrected from the grave. The book of Galatians clearly shows us that. Satan tried to imply faith AND circumcision [DOING something out of "obedience"] was necessary for the Jews to obtain - or more likely SECURE - Salvation, and the Apostle Paul was addressing that demonic deception in the first two chapters in the book of Galatians.
Satan's number one strategy for over 2,000 years now is to try to keep people from seeing the CLEAR TRUTH of what Jesus Christ accomplished for humanity. For the non-Christian, it's a WORKS Salvation of various sorts. For the Christian, It's usually known as a faith PLUS WORKS Salvation.
OUR BEING MADE TOTALLY ACCEPABLE TO GOD BOTH NOW AND MORE IMORTANTLY ON THE JUDGEMENT DAY WITHOUT THE KEEPING OF ANY RULES (OBEYING RULES IN OTHER WORDS) IS THE FREE GIFT OF GOD THROUGH OUR TRUSTING IN WHAT JESUS CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED FOR US ON THE CROSS! IT IS KNOWN AS THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION. (Not the free gift of salvation if you prove you are worthy enough of it - or by trying to keep your salvation secure - by obeying rules; obeying commandments).
Don't take me wrong -- I'm not dismissing the importance of obeying Christ's commandments in the New Testament Bible if we keep on living on this planet after we have received God's free gift of salvation (forgiveness of sins; made totally righteous - totally acceptable to Him). Obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ is only wise on our part. If obeying His commandments weren't good for us, He would not have told us to work at obeying them. Everything God tells us to do in the New Testament Bible is good for us, providing we correctly - wisely interpret what has been written and how God wants it applied to Christians today.
Obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ as is recorded in the New Testament Bible brings greater favor from God into our lives instead of constantly disobeying them whereby God withholds His favor (but not Him withholding SALVATION!). I'll take that even one further. I believe God will somehow reward us on the Judgment Day for our determination to keep His commands in this life. For the sake of discussion: If not, what will we have lost?
HOWEVER: "If you love Me, keep my commandments." (John 14:5).
Notice He DIDN'T say: 'If you want ASSURANCE of your salvation, keep my commandments.' Hmmmm ' ever wonder why that is? The answer is: It would make Him a liar.
Sidebar here: Trying to keep God's 10 moral commandments NEVER saved one Jew under the Old Covenant, because not one Jew was able to keep all of them perfectly. Jesus ALONE was the only human able to keep God's 10 moral commandments, which qualified Him FULLY to be the perfect sacrifice God the Father would accept to pay full, ransom payment for the sins of every person starting with Adam and Eve right down to you and I. True born again Christians are given greater power from the Holy Spirit to keep God's 10 moral commandments because they are good for humanity to try to keep! But keeping them PERFECTLY is impossible STILL. If it was possible to keep them fully ... then we never needed Jesus to die for us on the cross after all, did we (or at the very deceiving least, "I think You need a little of our help, Jesus.")?
Now Let's Address TRUTH.
Meaningful relationship with
God on a daily basis is available to anyone who desires it ' but it will never
be obtained if one is trying to experience it by
bypassing Truth ' God's Truth.
First and foremost, here is Fact: Jesus Christ IS Truth. He is Truth personified. He says that about Himself, and no one can prove He's wrong. Because Jesus Christ is fully God as the Bible says He is, would it not make logical sense that HE is the most qualified to tell us what Truth IS?
Jesus tells us in the Bible that His WORD is truth. God's written Word is fully to be trusted, and no one can prove differently.
Jesus tells us in the Bible that when He resurrected from the grave and manifested Himself to his disciples and others, that He needed to leave and go back to heaven from where He came from. The people wanted him to stay. But He told them, paraphrasing, 'I need to go be with the Father, so the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost; the Helper; the Advocate) can be poured out fully on mankind.' The implication of that meant that Jesus Christ could come and live inside EVERY person in spirit form on this planet at the same time if they desired Him to live there, but He would only do that if the person thirsted to KNOW Truth and do all to try to OBEY Truth (though we all fall short if we'll be honest, and God has mercy for each of us who fall short. If He didn't, I would have been disqualified a long time ago!).
So to live daily in Truth, one must do so by purposing to maintain intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit (God). [Though important to realize: All THREE persons of the eternal Godhead reside inside born again Christians: Father; Jesus Christ; Holy Spirit].
Holy scripture tells us, paraphrasing: 'Those who purpose to worship God must worship Him (fellowship with Him ' same thing) in Spirit and in Truth." We cannot expect to walk in maximized blessings (no matter how many trials and hardships we are going through) by bypassing intimacy with the Holy Spirit and His rightly interpreted ' rightly applied - Word of Truth (Holy Bible ' same thing) to every area of our life. Obedience to God's written Word enhances our intimacy with the Holy Spirit, and our enhanced intimacy with the Holy Spirit opens up never-ending spiritual feasting and revelation of God's Word to bless both us and others, and most importantly: Him.
I believe we can put ourselves in a self-imposed prison of sorts when we view Christianity (Meaningful relationship with God in accordance with Truth) as something we HAVE to do, and/or EXPECTED to do to try to earn His love. Satan wants us staying in that self-imposed prison our entire life, to rob us of maximized peace and joy in our relationship with God. We step out of that prison when we come to realize that - YES! - God wants us obeying His correctly interpreted and wisely applied commandments not only because it is good for us, but it also clearly demonstrates to Him and others just how much we truly love and appreciate Him and what He has done for us ... or if we are just looking for a "cheap spiritual fire insurance policy" we can skate into heaven on ... without demonstrating any desire to OBEY His commandments. (I personally believe this is the PRIMARY issue God is getting at in this particular scripture passage in Matthew 7:22-23).
On a personal level ' where the rubber meets the road ' I've been a born again Christian believer as of this writing (2017) for a little over 35 years. Writing about 'life more abundantly' and personally experiencing it on a day-to-day basis -- I believe needs some dissecting to help young Christians converts get a proper handle on the topic.
Experiencing 'life more abundantly' has not for me personally been being on some sort of 'mystical spiritual mountain top high' for very long where Satan and his demon assistants can't touch me. Truth of the matter for me has been: Experiencing frequent demonic attacks (mostly in the mind and physical body -- [health/sleep issues - conflict in relationships]) to try to ROB me of this 'life and life more abundantly' has been the norm rather than the exception.
I figure if there was any one person in the New Testament who could tell believers how to enter into this 'life and life more abundantly' to where it somehow becomes some fantasy-land perpetual motion state of blissful mental euphoria, it would have been either Jesus Himself demonstrating it or the Apostle Paul demonstrating it, or both. Yet as I try to imagine what a daily life for Jesus consisted of the last 3 years or so of His life, I see nothing but demonic opposition nearly every step He took. I see the same thing in the life of Apostle Paul. As He ever constantly focused his time and energies on God's call on his life, he faced demonic opposition that made it extremely difficult to hold on to degrees of joy for very long.
Then what kept Paul at it, with all the demonic opposition he battled with until the moment he died? I believe it was obedience to the call of God on his life to birth and help sustain -- help grow the Church.
I see the same thing with Jesus. Jesus didn't spend hours on a mountaintop to get downloaded with 'cosmic joy' from the Father, I don't believe. I believe He went up there and stayed up there to get deliverance from the heaviness/oppression of the demonic attacks of yesterday, and get prepared for the next assignment from the Father that was only going to bring MORE demonic attacks of emotional - spiritual oppression.
So getting back to my own personal life. In seeking to get all the 'life and life more abundantly' that I can tap into over the years, there is only ONE thing I've found that gives me 'life more abundantly.' That is allowing God to use me to plant and water seeds of truth in the lives of the unsaved, and to help them grow in their relationship with Christ once they have made Him their Savior and Lord.
Scripture tells us that Jesus poured out His life for humanity, for the joy set before Him. That joy would be manifest to Him in future eons of time (eternity) ' certainly not while He was on the demonic battlefield between good and evil we all deal with here on this planet. (Because God's angels in heaven REJOICE when just one sinner gets saved on this planet, how much MORE joy does it bring to Jesus? We have NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO clue.)
Yes ' there are 'tools' God gives the Church to hold onto joy when the devil relentlessly tries to steal it from us. Praise with thanksgiving is at the top of the list for me, as it has proven to be for multitudes. Singing 'spiritual songs' falls under that category. (The Holy Spirit helps me often make up my own lyrics. No one but God hears me sing, because I'm a terrible singer!). Feasting in God's Word is also top priority. Prayer with praise and thanksgiving is indispensable. Talking to God simply on a friendly, casual, honest, conversational level helps sustain my peace and joy. I've grown to understand that including Him in EVERYTHING pays huge dividends. It's the best way for me to 'set my mind on things above.'
Thus I've come to believe that to experience 'life and life more abundantly', the KEY is to get the focus off ourselves and always ask and trust God for ways to somehow be a blessing to OTHERS as the Holy Spirit inspires it. My comprehension of the matter falls directly in line with DOING THE WORK OF HIS KINGDOM EXPANSION IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Religion is Satan's counterfeit to MEANINGFUL GODLY RELATIONSHIP. Religion invariably is built on a foundation of 'rules.' The more Satan can trick (deceive) us into focusing on religious rules and control by those setting and enforcing the rules ' the more difficult it becomes for us to enter into and/or remain in meaningful relationship with the Creator.
What can make it even more challenging are the "Christians" sometimes the closest to us. If they are not walking in mature liberty and freedom in Christ -- if they are caught up in various erroneous Bible interpretations and application(s) thereof -- they can be vessels Satan uses to mess with your head BIGTIME as you listen to their counsel and/or advice. Don't isolate yourself with growing in your relationship with other Christian believers ... but be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS in what you believe just because they "seem" to be a whole lot more understanding about spiritual matters than you do. Always strive to be teachable ... but learn to discern sharks from dolphins. The Holy Spirit will send off warning signs in your spirit when "sharks" are doing the speaking, so be eager to listen to what others have to say, but be wisely cautious before believing them.
Placing emphasis in keeping religious rules was the primary means Satan used to blind the religious leaders of Jesus' day to Truth. Not only were they spiritually blinded to Truth -- they were so enraged by the words and actions of Truth that they demanded from the Roman government that Truth be done away with by hanging. Satan discovered he couldn't eradicate this planet by hanging Truth nor stopping the Holy Spirit from imparting Truth to those who hunger and thirst for it once Jesus ascended back to glory. But Satan has ways of hindering people from easily finding and understanding Truth the way God wants them understanding it. It's through his deceptive brainwashing of: "Truth Is Relative." New Age deceptive teachings runs hand-in-hand with it.
Here is another very trustworthy writing from a very trustworthy source that can help the reader better understand the dangers of "rule keeping" in Christianity, and what is necessary for salvation, and what isn't: https://carm.org/is-baptism-necessary-salvation
ALWAYS REMEMBER: ASSURANCE of your salvation is based on what Jesus Christ accomplished for each of us by taking full punishment for ALL our sins by His death, burial and resurrection. It's by your BELIEVING -- not believing PLUS a little of your doing ' a little of your 'obeying' - in other words.
If a little of your doing ' obeying - trying to keep rules - is required to assure you of His free gift of Salvation to you, then His free gift of salvation isn't free AT ALL! Satan wants no one clearly realizing that however. He wants to keep us mentally foggy ' a little confused - on this Truth from God.
Once a person is at total peace with the above Truth ... then Satan constantly looks for ways to try to convince that person that they need to "obey rules" to KEEP and/or MAINTAIN ASSURANCE of their right standing with God (Maintain ASSURANCE of their Salvation, in other words). As a prime example, in the United States, far too many local church fellowships EXCELL in trying to make Christians believe that if they don't give 10% of their income to "the work of the Lord [And ESPECIALLY the local church fellowship they are attending]", they can't possibility be "REAL" Christians. The giving of money to "the work of the Lord" has zip, zero, nadda to do whether a person is a "TRUE" Christian or NOT. It has NOTHING to do with getting saved, or STAYING saved either: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/a-e/CanNotPayGodForSalvation.htm
Thanks for taking
the time to read what you've read here. I hope the Lord uses it to help many
people in their relationship with Him. Satan is looking for ways day and night
to rob you of your peace and joy and confidence in your relationship with Jesus
Christ. Learn everything you can as quick as you can the tactics he uses to try
to do that.
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
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