SOON AFTER THE birth of Jesus Christ, Satan must have realized that he was fighting a losing battle. And about that quickly, it would seem, he decided to switch tactics and attempt to destroy God’s work through counterfeit and sabotage.
In an effort to remove the power of the cross, Satan often attempts to persuade professing cross-bearers to lay it aside and find an easier way to develop spiritual muscles. But cross-bearing is more than spiritual gymnastics, and sooner or later the Christian who seeks an easier route realizes that in dropping the load he has lost the fife as well.
One of the devil’s favorite (and most effective) devices is to cheapen the cost of being a follower of Christ. What passes as Christianity is first made easy, then popular, then polluted and finally worthless.
When Christ is reduced to “religion,” and this is reduced again to “church membership,” Christianity is always cheapened to the point that it becomes just one more compartment in the lives of those who profess it. This “religious section” is then easily cared for through regular “church attendance” and contributions to the “church.” More sincere devotees of this bargain-basement religion will also abstain from certain “bad” acts and do others the preacher says are “good.” Spiritual metabolism is regulated by circumstances. Romans 12:1,2 is either ignored or forgotten.
Jesus becomes only the one who made the system possible. It is thought that He invested “church officials” with authority and then withdrew to heaven — supposedly to mediate prayers for help in emergencies, and finally come to the eternal rescue.
What a challenging contrast to this is seen in Scripture! There God is not merely “over all,” but, so far as the Christian is concerned, is also “through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). There good works and abstinence from bad ones are not in order to earn salvation and grace, but because of God’s gift in Christ and Christ’s sin-offering on the cross. There men are saved “by grace through faith” as they obey God, yet not “by works of righteousness” which they have done (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5).
It does not affect the necessity of man’s working to say that he is saved by grace and not works. It does put things in the right order. It is the duty of the Christian to get to work! Such working is the reasonable response of one who realizes that he has been changed from “dead in sins” to “saved by grace,” and this only because God was “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
The child of God is not asked to invent a new life for himself, but is called upon to live the life of good works which God already has prepared for him, and which is, in fact, the very life of Christ (Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 2:20).
In the New Testament, the church is the creation of God, not of man. And it makes no difference here whether man’s desire is to create God’s church or to re-create it. Because God gives life to the church, man by himself can construct, even at best and with a perfect blueprint, only
a lifeless corpse — not the body of Christ. But whenever men respond to the kindness of God, revealed through Jesus Christ, in the way that God directs, they become “saved ones” — and they become the church.
There has already been too much “Christianity” that was counterfeit to begin with, and too much more that began right but was sabotaged. Someone remarked that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It just has not been tried.”
God’s word is the standard. Is your Christianity genuine?