Monday, March 7, 2011

The Teaching on Works

2) We have such a fear of legalism creeping into the church that any mention of what our lives as Christians should look like is immediately labeled legalistic. Recently in Adult Sunday School my pastor read excerpts from the Didache, a compilation of early Christian teachings (dating around 175 AD). These teachings were simply a list of things that Christians should partake in and do. Many people in the class responded by saying that this sounded legalistic and wrong, however it appeared to me that the lists were directly out of Scripture. See Matthew 5-7, Titus 3, Colossians 3:12-4:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 2 Peter 1:5-11. It would seem that many people would get up and walk out saying they will not put up with legalism if these Scriptures were to be read. But we must come to see that talking about and expounding upon what the Christian life should look like is not legalism!! In fact, encouraging good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25) is commanded in Scripture, so we should be doing it. Encouraging and even teaching good works is not legalism; legalism is when good works are seen as a prerequisite for salvation. We must come to see that apart from Galatians 1-4 on the superiority of grace over law, chapters 5 and 6 would be legalism. But apart from chapter 5 and 6, the doctrine of grace in chapters 1-4 would be wholly incomplete. Until we are able to freely talk about what the Christian life should be, until we are free to describe and encourage Christ-like living without people getting their feathers all ruffled, until we do this we will not have truly started building the kingdom of God. For what is a kingdom where the king is not obeyed? As long as we continue to not live our lives for Jesus, as long as we only focus on the things we are not to do but leave out the things that we are to do, we are not serving Jesus but rather ourselves.

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