law’s boundaries. mercy’s vastness.

{note: this is a repost of something i originally posted elsewhere on September 11, 2011 someplace that not many (if any) of you know about. just fyi.}

conservative Christians are obsessed with rules. there are never-ending lists of do’s and dont’s. where do we draw the line? when is enough enough? when does grace and freedom enter the picture?

…and to think, I always thought salvation was not a works-based relationship.

i was always taught that the Christian life is one of freedom and forgiveness, but also personal responsibility. so then, if i am free in Christ, why am i living in so much bondage?

or am i only “free” to roam within the four walls of the 10’x10’ box of man-made rules?

interesting enough, i am aware that it takes knowing the truth to be really free. i have met Truth – i’ve known Him for quite some time. now i’m searching for the truth of the boundaries of the law and the vastness of His mercy — that line where they meet.

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” ~ Psalm 85:10




Posted on October 14, 2011, in Christian Life, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. “I always thought salvation was not a works-based relationship”

    I think many people make this mistake. The bible is very clear that works are important, and not every mention of works has to do with salvation.

    The book of James is the best example of this, but I’d add that Ephesians 2:8, which is famous for saying we are saved not by works but by grace, is followed, in the very next sentence, by this truth: you were made by Jesus, for good works, which he has prepared for you.

    This is not a case of one writer in the bible contradicting the ideas of another. Paul wrote both verse 8 and verse 10. In practically the same thought, he said works are important, though they have nothing to do with salvation.

    Therefore, we are to have the same mindset: works are important, though they do not save us.

    • A friend made a statement something like this. “Grace is free when it comes in but always costs something when it goes out.”

      The last part of that statement is true whether it relates to the cost of my salvation (free for me to receive, expensive for God to offer) or my response afterwards as I live a transformed life in Christ Jesus and share God’s offer with others.

  2. As James said, works do not save you. We do them in obedience to Christ. We shall receive rewards in heaven for our works. Without works, one will not go to hell if they are saved, but they won’t receive the rewards.

    By our works, however, we can show someone Christ. This gives them an opportunity to come to know the Lord themselves. 🙂

  3. Hi Heather,

    I mentioned a blog or two back that I wanted to comment, but only after I’d prayed about that comment for a day or two first. Since you’ve posted a couple more blogs on the same subject since, I’ll just answer here.

    The gist of what I’d like to suggest is in three intertwined parts.

    First, many verses say that, yes, if we love God, we WILL obey him. (For example, John 14:15-16, John 14:21-24, John 15:9-10, 1 Samuel 29:13-14, James 1:22, Hosea 10:12, James 2:20. And more.)

    The second strand is that other verses make it clear that no matter what we do when we try to obey God, those things MUST be done in love (for instance, see what Paul says in the first part of 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love” chapter). And some verses point out that this love begins with God, not with us (such as 1 John 4:10 and 4:19).

    Third, I’d like to gently remind us all WHO we’re supposed to obey. It’s God. It’s be lovely if that was always the same as obeying our own church’s rules, but I expect we’ve all found times when it’s not. I learned it about my own church when I did a Bible study on what “worldliness” meant, and later when I did another on what Scripture means when it says “love your neighbor.”

    Both times, I learned that though my church taught some of the things the Bible does, it had also inserted many of its own teachings. Some of those were just “different,” and it didn’t hurt to obey them, but some actually contradicted the Bible. Just as important, my church was ignoring many things the Bible clearly taught we SHOULD do. Honestly, it was surprisingly hard to face that. I had to seriously think about where my loyalty was. (And, I’m glad to say, I finally decided it was with the Bible, and with God.) My church was doing its best, but it was still “human.” (Which meant I still had to love it too, even while obeying God when there was a difference.)

    May He bless you – praying for you.

    • Our pastor always says not to trust him but to look it up in the Bible. He said never base your beliefs on what the pastor says. The worst reasoning is “Because my pastor (or church) said so.” He says, “Get the proof yourself!”

  4. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I like what Pete said, that no matter what we do when we try to obey God, those things must be done in love. This verse also makes it clear that if we truly love God, we will obey Him (I think Pete said that too :)). Loving God moves us farther away from the world. Loving God compels us to read His Word more. Loving God convicts us that we need to remove sin from our lives. Loving God increases our desire for holiness in our lives. Loving God increases our disgust of sin. If we truly love God, rules won’t be a problem. God didn’t give us commands to ruin our fun, or to enslave us. Rules are for protection. They keep us safe. They guard us from sin and wickedness. They are good things.

    Can rules get out of hand? Sure, but so can our perspective. The flesh naturally rebels against all forms of control. Sadly, the flesh doesn’t get eradicated at salvation, which is why sanctification is a life-long journey.

    Just my two cents worth.

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