Sunday, November 19, 2006

Finding Middle Ground

As I continue to journey forward, I am excited to find there is revival riding on the wind. I'm hearing it more and more- 'Christ and Him Crucified' and see the amazing results upon the hearts and congregations of those who embrace it. The message is one of rest & gladness- it's not a new idea, rather an old, long neglected message.

Churches are now faced with a choice, to enter God's rest or reject the merits of Jesus Christ, clinging desperately to human obedience & standards- which are frail at best- to earn us favor with God. Many suppose they will march up to the pearly gates present a badge representing their denominational affiliation, church attendance card and resume' of an obedient, sacrificial life, thereby gaining admittance to the kingdom. However, the Kingdom seeks it's members TODAY- not in some future time. The Kingdom message is an undercurrent that builds, balances and assures the soul. It brings us out of the ditches and onto the middle ground.

There are two ditches and I've journeyed in both ruts:

1) I can do whatever I want, whenever I feel like it. If there is a God, He doesn't care what I do or how I live so I will gratify every whim. I can damage my body and destroy relationships any way I see fit- as long as I get what I want out of life.

The other extreme says:

2) I will be the strictest, most upright person I can be. I will keep the 10 Commandments and numerous lifestyle recommendations and teach others to do so- especially emphasizing the 4th Command. I will emphasize prophecy and present my church as having superior truths to any other. Any enjoyment I find in this life must be somehow displeasing to God, so I will sacrifice any & every pleasurable thing. I will be wary of forming relationship with anyone who does not think like me for fear of spiritual contamination. I will study and revere EGW as my prophet and make her the example to follow. I will hold her writings as equal in value to the Bible and will pick and choose quotes to use and go around correcting others with her words. I will protect my distinct church culture at all cost and by any means necessary.

BOTH sides are extremely self-focused and neither comprehend the great Love of God. There is a middle ground- a balance. Those resting in Christ and making Him their focus and security will learn how to love. We are only awakened from a lukewarm, Laodicean state by the passionate love of Christ- which warms the heart. By beholding Him, we will be changed into His likeness. According to Corinthians, "Love is not self-seeking, it is not puffed up or conceited, it is not arrogant or rude... It is patient, kind, forgiving, it takes no delight in pointing out wrongs..." Those in the middle ground know their sins are forgiven and can rest in the merits of Jesus. This makes them more relaxed and pleasant to be around because they are no longer under a constant burden of striving for perfection. They are more understanding and accepting of others because they have a realistic view of where they stand before God. These people are attractive because they are humble and do not pride themselves in being the "last remaining guardians of truth". They know how to love and don't hold back in offering help to those in need. They realize it's not a sin to enjoy some material pleasures, but that putting their own wants above the needs of others is neglecting Christian duty. Those in the middle ground have seen the depth of their own sinfulness, they have been broken and realize their great need of a Savior, but they do not wallow in despair. They fully embrace the victory for what Christ has done for them and move forward in faith.

Things are becoming clearer to me in regards to my beliefs. Des Ford once summed it up like this:

False religion majors in law and minors in love.
True religion majors in love and minors in law.

The first majors in what God requires of us.
The second majors in what God has done for us.

One religion puts all stress on Christ as the example to measure up to.
The other puts emphasizes Christ as our substitute and representative.

One is a religion that leads to bondage, despair and death.
The other is a religion that leads to joy, freedom, salvation and life eternal.

Scripture says that we were all born into sin without asking for it- that we inherited a sinful nature. The evil serpent has bitten us all. But the Gospel teaches that we have all been saved by the atoning work of Jesus Christ our Lord who said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me." . See 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Romans 5:10, Romans 5:18-19.

The Good News is that our sins were crucified with Christ- nailed to His cross. Therefore, the Old Covenant Law has no more power to condemn us than to condemn Christ. The moment we believe, Christ's own perfect robe of righteousness is laid upon us and remains ours for all our days- if we continue to look to Him, despite a hundred or a thousand failures on our part.

I think back to the story of the serpents in the wilderness. A host of vipers came into the camp of Israel, biting everyone. All the dying Israelites had to do was look upon the metal serpant Moses held upon the pole and they would be saved. Many failed to perform this simple act of faith and perished because it wasn't scientific or theologically complex enough for them. Are we any different today? To look to Christ and live seems so simple- many feel it is below them.

At all stages of our experience we are saved by faith alone, though the faith that saves is never alone. We are not saved by faith PLUS works but by a faith THAT works. This kind of faith does not come from man, but from the Holy Spirit's indwelling.

For the whole truth compare: Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15 and 1 Corinthians 7:19. Even on Judgment Day we will be saved by faith alone- though our actions will testify to the reality of that faith despite our own infinite imperfections.

Come to the middle ground and rest. Look upon the Savior and live. Taste and see that The Lord is good!


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I'm a Christian and I have couple of Christian friends who are the 'law-keeping' extreme and constantly tell me I need to do the same. Thanks for the reminder of 'faith that works' and the assurance of salvation we have in Jesus. God bless.

  2. You are certainly welcome, Sarah! :o)

    Hold on to Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He offers rest when so many others want to pile more obligations and requirements upon a weary soul.

    You are valued. If you are hid in Christ, you are, even now perfect in the eyes of God. Grace- what a beautiful thing!