Are You Asking The Right Questions About Your Christian Faith?
As a minister, when I hear questions such as…
- Do I have to give money to the church (or how much money do I have to give)?
- Does the Bible say I have to attend church (or how often do I need to attend church)?
- Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?
…I challenge the person that they are asking the wrong questions, that they seem to be seeking the minimum requirements for the Christian faith. But Christianity is not about meeting certain standards, minimum or otherwise. The truth is, Jesus did all that needed to be done to satisfy God’s perfect justice when He paid for our sins on the cross. We don’t HAVE TO add anything to the work of Christ on the cross, IF we have a saving faith in that work.
Therefore, from the biblical perspective, the better question is “does my life demonstrate the fruit of repentance associated with a saving faith”? Remember the powerful words of James.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? … So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2: 14, 17 & 26 [ESV]
In explaining his work as an Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul tells king Agrippa that his main lesson to those seeking to be Christians is that their life must reflect the fruit of repentance. In other words, if they have truly turned to God (which is the act of repentance) through a saving faith, their lives will naturally bear fruit (and they would not be asking just what the essentials are that they HAVE To do).
Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. Acts 26: 19 – 20 [ESV]
This is why after writing emphatically that we are saved by God’s grace through our faith, Paul closes the first section of Ephesians chapter 2 reminding us that once we are saved by faith, we are to set out doing the works that God has always had ready for us to do.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 8 – 10 [ESV]
And the Apostle John, in his first letter in the Bible, where he is teaching us that we can have assurance of our salvation in Christ, tells us how we know if we are “in Christ” in the way which saves.
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. I John 2: 3 – 6 [ESV]
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. I John 3: 9 – 10
The point these biblical writers are making is that what we do won’t save us, only Christ can save us! BUT if our faith in Christ is truly a saving faith, it changes our desire to be obedient and to have our lives reflect Jesus. Therefore, if we find ourselves asking “do I have to” type questions, it might be time for a reset. The more appropriate questions for a Christian are “am I seeking God’s will”, “do I have a desire to be obedient to Christ no matter what” and “am I actively looking for ways to serve Christ, His church and His people”?
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3: 35 – 36 [ESV]
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.