Reading Donald Miller's Searching For God Knows What. Into the first chapter and he makes a great resolution about 'formulas'. We love to have formulas in our lives....formulas bring things 'under our control'. Formulas help us understand and see things before they ever happen. Formulas combat messiness, especially in relationships.
Formulas were the biggest problem in the early church. We get books like Galations and Romans because of formulas. The Law was simply a set of formulas given by God to His people to show how to live and worship Him. When Jesus came, he basically summarized the formulas into one statement......"have a relationship we me & call me Lord"(Romans 10:9). We like the 'relationship with me' part. This is the magic prayer we are encouraged to say, then wall down the isle, then sign the membership card. The part we don't like is the 'call me Lord'. Lord is the word that will trip us up every time. Lord means that He is in charge, he makes the decisions, we serve and do things based on His desire (his Will) and His Mission. When church leaders lead someone in this passage in Romans and ask them to go thru these 'steps'(formula:), they just pass over the word 'Lord' like it has the same weight as every other word in the passage.....it doesn't. Lord means EVERYTHING....
The paradox that I am struggling to put together is how 'fruit', as the bible calls it, and this relationship goes together. What I've come to at this point is that we, theological thinkers, are asking the wrong question all time. When faced with statements about what Jesus is asking us to do (drop your nets, sell your possessions, love your enemies, hate your family, give to the needy, etc...) we immediately want to ask, 'isn't this working out your salvation...salvation by works?' These are the fruit of a disciple of Jesus. They will automatically be evident if the Holy Spirit is leading a life. We want to retreat to a point of the magic prayer and make sure that it really worked. But here's the kicker....If we are true disciples of Jesus, then the argument over salvation by works is mute....because if we are truly following Christ, then the fruit will show up in you. Jesus says that a fruitless vine will be cut off and thrown away to wither and dry up, then burned. Why do we want to spend our energy wondering if we are saved are not thru works of fruit, when if we are as close to Jesus as we can possibly be, that will ensure production of fruit. We are asking the wrong questions! We actually want a formula of works! Same problem the early church had. Our works are calender issues though....go to church, go to bible study, give money, then my relationship with God should feel better, right? Jesus goes on to say that if you stay connected to the vine, yea life my get tough, but I'll prune you and you will produce more fruit....IF you stay connected. Not in our power, but in his. So we can't just produce our own fruit to get connected....the fruit is produced BECAUSE we are connected.
The rich young ruler came asking for the wrong thing also....eternal life. He wanted a formula....so Jesus took the issue to his heart. His wealth had control over him. And his wealth kept him from really following Jesus. When something has hold of our life or heart, we want to argue that if we let go of it, that would be legalism....so we theologically don't have to. We just want the first part of the prayer (believe with our mouth)....we just don't want to live out the second part (make Him Lord over our lives). So we're stuck making sure we made it over the salvation line and the line won't move....we've even given it a cool theological arguement title (Eternal Security).
I'm tired of arguing eternal security passages. I'm tired of arguing the point of salvation and if we can achieve the bare minimums to get into heaven. Just make sure you are a disciple that is right behind Jesus and the question of security of the believer doesn't make a difference. Being close to Jesus WILL produce fruit and then your questions are answered.....are you saved? Yes...because I KNOW Jesus personally!
Question: Am I Saved?
Answer: Are You A Disciple?