From the Pulpit Article: All Other Ground is Sinking Sand
All Other Ground is Sinking Sand
Do you consider that religion and faith are deeply concerned with your happiness? It might seem that for the multitude of church attendees the idea of happiness is not readily upon their mind as they walk into their weekly service. Duty and obligation typically act as our impetus for attending rather than the outflowing of our heart. We go because we feel the “have to” rather than the “want to”.
The joy in attending church service can become almost an awkward and bizarre concept when you’ve been living in an obligated and duty filled church life. Nothing could be further from the New Testament. Hope-filled joy in the good news of Jesus Christ demolishes the foundation of obligatory church attendance.
The awkwardness in statements like these come because we tend to forget that learning about God and knowing Jesus Christ is all about our joy. True and faithful Doctrine is for your joy and happiness. We experience the joy of Christianity as we learn more of who God is, how He has created each of us, and what He has done for us in Christ. Is it not your experience that as you know God more through what you’ve learned in your Bible, or taught from the Bible on Sundays, that you encounter great joy? In times of trial and suffering we can have great hope because we know the one true God of the Bible is a God who is not far off but who is near to our circumstances. That entices us to great joy.
True and Biblical Christianity is for our joy. Unfortunately, the opposite reality is just as true. False doctrine will kill our joy. Have you ever found in your difficult times that when you do not believe God is for you, your joy and hope is sparse?
Christians have a serious call to rejoice and experience joy. What makes it distinctly Christian, however, is that the call to rejoice is rooted in Jesus. To pursue a life of joy means pursuing Jesus while knowing there are things in the world that try to kill your joy. One of the oldest attempts to kill Christian joy comes in the form of false teaching. If biblical truths of Christian faith are essential for joy, then Christians must discern false teaching. This protects our joy and protects the gospel message.
In many ways we learn what truth is in response to what is false. We learn what is good out of what is inherently evil. We learn what it means to love by knowing what it means not to hate. We learn the value and sanctity of human life by seeing the atrocities of abortion. We learn and know that racism is wrong and evil because we know that we are created in the image of God and there must be respect and care for all races and their histories. We become clearer in our understanding of truth when we are confronted with error. This becomes abundantly clear in matters of eternity and for salvation. Knowing the essential truths of the gospel has a clear impact on our joy, now and for eternity. True Christian joy comes in trusting Jesus alone.
Consider your life today. Are you trusting in something other than Jesus alone for your eternity? Do you trust in the things you do to merit your eternity? Do you feel your salvation is qualified because you’ve done enough good?
Biblical Christianity defines a salvation that is by the grace of God in Jesus Christ alone. One can put confidence in nothing else.
Paul begins his section in Philippians 3:1-6 by making a shift. He writes, “Finally my brothers, rejoice in the Lord”. He encourages the Philippian church, and us, to rejoice in the Lord. He says it’s imperative we rejoice. Paul says it’s no trouble for him to write the same things to them. It’s his joy to. Paul never tired of explaining the good news of Jesus. He never tired of talking about Jesus. It was not dull to him. It was his life! Do you tire of hearing about Jesus and the cross? Is it something that bores you? Something you turn the page on?
Paul writes that it’s no trouble but it’s also safe for them. He writes there is no other safe message. All other messages and doctrines are unsafe. Paul is going on the offensive here. Paul wrote against a group of people who claimed to be Christians and came into churches teaching a distorted message. This group, known as the Judaizers, would teach that one must believe in Jesus but also conform their life to the Mosaic and Ceremonial Law. In other words, to be Christian they must first become Jewish and do the law. If one wanted God to bless them and be a part of His people, they must adhere to the law. This message is confusing the churches the way many churches are confused today in the message they’re preaching.
What makes a man or woman a Christian? Why does the question matter? It matters because the safety of souls and the joy of lives, now and for eternity, depends on if one has the right message!
Paul writes, “Look out!” for this type of people who claim one must believe in Jesus but also do all these other things to merit being in God’s people. Look out for those who claim that their good-doing merits them to make a claim on God. Paul says that is evil-doing.
The Gospel message has never been about what you can do to merit eternity from God. The gospel message has always been about what Jesus Christ has done for you to give you forgiveness and reconciliation into the family of God by your faith in Him.
What do you put your confidence in at this moment? In your ability or in Jesus work for you? Your joy now and eternity rest in the right and true message.
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