Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Plans of Salvation

The foundational belief of Christianity is that salvation comes through our accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour. But in a strange and yet common thought process for many Christians, they think that this is actually Plan B. When talking about how to get salvation they refer to something that they think was God’s Plan A.

Plan A was keeping all of the law perfectly. They’re quick to point out that no one has ever kept the Old Testament Mosaic Law perfectly and that’s why Jesus had to die. For them Plan B is the only option that works but they often refer to our disobedience to Plan A to show why we need Plan B. Even though many view the Mosaic Law this way, they forget that those who came before Moses had the opportunity to know God's love without the keeping of the Law.

This misunderstanding of the law's purpose is a huge problem for many people. The focus becomes our sins and obeying laws rather than understanding our true identity and purpose as a child of God. Judgments of themselves and others becomes a way of life and a terrible burden to carry. It was like Jesus had never come. I even know of groups that use a witnessing technique to show someone that they’re a sinner in need of salvation because they have broken one of the 10 commandments.

What a strange approach. They don’t begin sharing their faith by talking of the uniqueness of Jesus, his incredible love for us, His fascinating life while on Earth or his giving of his life on the cross. Instead they want to talk about how we haven’t kept the 10 commandments. The impression given to the listener is that they were supposed to have kept all of the laws in order to be “saved”. In essence, what they are selling is fire insurance rather than helping someone develop a life long love relationship with Jesus.

As a result of this type of approach, countless numbers of Christians equate their salvation with how well they have performed today. Prior to salvation they worried about not getting to heaven, now they worry about losing their salvation. Their focus is still on Plan A rather than on Jesus.

I don’t know how many times I have heard preachers talk about the impossibility of keeping the 613 laws of the Old Testament. Once again, giving the impression that if one did, then Plan A would be in effect for our salvation. Some preachers even talk as if the main purpose of the Mosaic Law was that it was to show us that we can’t keep it and therefore we need Jesus. That sounds like a cruel puppet master that delights in setting up rules that we are sure to fail at.

No doubt we have violated our own values or those of the Bible but that isn’t about us losing or gaining salvation.

Here are a few examples of the varying purposes of the Mosaic Law.

If they used the roof of their house for living on, they had to have a guardrail. I have a nice deck on the back of my house that overlooks an 8-meter drop off. I could have saved a few bucks and not put a guard rail up but I’m pretty sure my friends are glad I didn’t skimp on that safety feature.

They weren't supposed to have sex with a dog or a goat or for that matter any animal. Seems like a reasonable idea to me.

Sex was taboo outside of a marriage relationship. A lot of people don’t like that particular law but I don’t think it was meant to be some impossible hardship imposed on anyone. Just ask someone with AIDS if this is a barbaric rule. Better yet, ask the children of divorce that were results of adultery.

One of the tithes in the Old Testament was to go to the Levites. They were the civil and religious leaders in Israel: in essence, they were the government. They weren’t allowed to own land or businesses. Their role was to be dispersed among the other 11 tribes teaching them about God and to reveal how to live safely and peacefully with each other. All of that for only 10% and that 10% only came from those that owned land or herds of animals. No one else had to pay this tithe. WOW, if only our government would operate on 10% of only rich people’s revenues.

Another one of the tithes was for Dad to take the family to the big city, Jerusalem, each year and have a great party with all of the extended family. God wanted everyone to have a vacation. The 10% only came from those that owned land or herds of animals. Surely 10% would buy a lot of wine and food for a great celebration.

The last tithe of the Old Testament was to only be done twice in 7 years. The purpose of this tithe was for the care of the widow, the orphan and the alien. They were to have storehouses of food in every local town that provided for the poor. This was their social welfare system of the day. Once again a small reminder of who paid this tithe. The 10% only came from those that owned land or herds of animals.

One of the rules for the army was that they were to carry a stick for digging holes for their crap. They had to go outside of the camp to do their business and then bury it. Seems like a hygienic plan to me.

This list could go on and on. Suffice to say, the laws of the Old Testament had purposes far different than being means of earning salvation. How many times have I heard people sneer at the staggering number of 613 laws in the Old Testament. And yet we live with literally millions of laws.

Without a doubt the keeping of the law is a burden if one is using it as a means of salvation. But that was never it's purpose. If I drive my car over a cliff and no matter how much I want it to change its purpose and become a plane, it can't, and I will die wishing it could.

I’m even happy with our laws. I’m glad everyone obeys the law and drives on the right hand side of the street. I think driving slower in a school zone is a good idea. I enjoy watching sports because they have clearly defined rules. I usually only get upset when the rules aren’t applied fairly in a game.

To say that the keeping of our modern day laws is the means of our salvation is preposterous and fails to understand their purpose.

The purpose of salvation is that we can know God. We don’t have to be afraid of Him. We don’t have to misunderstand why He gives us healthy boundaries in which to live abundant lives. God isn’t out to get us. His plan has always been to have fellowship with us. We need to be saved from the idea that God is a spoilsport.

Adam and Eve were seduced in the garden into thinking that God was holding something back from them. We need to stop thinking the same thing.

Our eternal salvation is not dependent on keeping the laws. That wasn’t their purpose. Those laws were meant to give us an abundant life on earth.

God’s plan for our eternal salvation is that we would simply love Him as He loves us. He sent His son to reveal this love. All we have to do is accept His ONE and ONLY plan.

“But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,"[d] that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."[e] For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Romans 10:8-13

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