I was up late last night.
I was up early this morning.
I didn't need to be, but I was.
Why? Because of some nagging and disturbing thoughts. I mean, I just read an article that had damned me to hell. I was damned by some really holy people. These people have a ministry centered around joy and freedom in their holiness before God (scroll down to "The Christian Walk"). They believe that holiness is the "norm" of the Christian life. Because that is not exactly the case for me, I'm not a "true" believer, and am therefore still in need of salvation.
That all pretty well lines up with Scripture, especially if you're looking for that. But to tell me I'm not really a Christian? That I'm still damned if I don't become one? That I am outside the grace of God until I "turn or burn"? ...Holy crap! (oh, I guess I just showed my damned state there too) That's enough to keep anyone with any sense of moral responsibility and a desire for Christ-likeness up.
Now, I wasn't up because I was questioning my salvation. "I know whom I have believed" [2 Timothy 1:12] and that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" [Philippians 1:6]. I was up because something was very, very wrong with the statements of these very, very holy people.
Besides the nuisance of them disregarding everything I say as null simply because I am not of the mind of God, there is a deeper issue. The issue is with a fundamental question of Salvation: Does God save sinners?
If you followed the link above, you would see that they clearly do believe this. So why do I ask this question? Because they have made their answer beg another question: Does God save sinners so they no longer sin and no longer need saving, or does He "merely" save sinners?
I believe that God "merely" saves sinners. I also believe that the fruit of following Christ will be a more righteous life, but I am fairly confident that I will remain a sinner until the day that I die. If this is not the case, awesome; but, I'm not holding my breath or questioning God's redeeming work in my life.
From what I can tell of others (NGJ, my sister, and, it seems, Mormons) tend to hold to the other idea: You get saved and then you are on your own. Now would anyone actually claim this as true? I doubt it. But the fact remains: They are willing to tell me (in writing) that after being saved, I'd better be holy or I'm obviously still under the damning wrath of God. Hmm... but maybe that's not what they are saying at all. Perhaps I'm getting in the way and twisting what they would actually claim.
It could be that they would merely say that I have not "fully matured" in my walk with God. Perhaps they just think I'm stuck in the basics and haven't moved on to the life God has offered me. Maybe they wouldn't say I'm headed to Hell, exactly, more that I'm not exactly headed to Heaven either. Even so, the question remains: Does God save sinners?
I just read a follow-up e-mail from my sister who assured me that her husband has found that he is dead to sin (porn, in particular, as that was what sparked this whole thing). That's awesome. I encourage everyone to break free from sin. I would welcome the state of "dead to sin", and even mentally ascent to it's reality. How that becomes reality for me, I'm unsure. My sister says that I need to listen to this series by Michael Pearl, so I'll see what I can do about that. Believe me, if it changes my life, I'll let you know.
For now, tonight, as I head off to bed, I must admit that I am still a sinner. I am still in desperate need of God's grace and salvation. And that is why I am so thankful that He saves sinners.
What would a life "dead to sin" be like, look like? I guess I'm not close enough to my sister to know. ...I admit it: That was mean. But I'll leave it there for now for two reasons: 1. I said it in part because I believe that a "true" Christian life would be Christ-like and therefore draw sinners to find what He is all about, and 2. It could be my fault (and so a reflection on my state not hers), in that if I am still too worldly I don't see the things of God... but that doesn't jive well with point 1. ...Bother, I am confused. And so, confused, hurt, and very aware of my own short-comings, I throw myself on the grace of God and bid you all "adieu" (quite literally: into the hands of God).