Recently, I made the discovery/announcement/had the revelation that I am no longer identifying as a Christian. However, I am determined to follow Jesus. That hasn’t changed not a bit. I’ve just moved too far from traditional Christianity to hold onto that tie. The cord has been stretched to the breaking point.
You see one of the problems with traditional Christianity is it can make us spiritually lazy. Christianity teaches that Jesus paid the price for our sins. So it is DONE.We’re in. We’re golden. There is nothing more to be done. There is a debate going back in Bible days about faith versus works and it goes on to this day in the church. However, the tradition I grew up in is a grace-only tradition. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Well, that’s the first line anyway.
There’s a slight problem with this teaching though. On the one hand, they will say it’s Jesus’s faith, Jesus’ sacrifice that saves us. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. There is no sin that can’t be forgiven. Except…. we have to believe. We have to take that step of believing for the sacrifice Jesus made to count. Jesus paid the price, but God doesn’t apply it to our account until we believe. That, my friends, is a work. We have to muster up the belief. We have to do something. That, my friends leaves an unforgivable sin, the sin of non-belief. That is not unconditional grace.
Some have read the Bible and figured this hypocrisy (or more politely inconsistency) out. The one I know best while a Bible scholar, a dedicated follower of Jesus and big believer in the words of Paul, no longer calls himself a Christian because of this big difference. He believes it is Jesus who saved us. We do not save ourselves, even with our belief. And Jesus saved all. No exceptions. There is nothing you can do or need to do to earn salvation. And, if you believe in the penal substitutionary atonement theory, this makes a lot of sense.
Here is the way I see it now. Your salvation is assured. Whether you believe Jesus paid it all or whether you believe God never planned to send you to a fiery hell makes no difference in your salvation. It will make a big difference in how you view God however. Faith versus works is a non-issue for me because if you’re concerned about salvation, don’t be. You don’t need either faith or works to “save” you.
The real thing we should be focusing on is salvation and sanctification. These terms are Chrsitianese I know. But, basically salvation is the security of your soul and sanctification is the state of your soul. If you’re still of the belief some will be saved and some won’t, you’ll need to wrestle with the salvation question. For the sake of argument, let’s say there is a point in time in which you save yourself (with your faith). But, you see this isn’t the end of the journey. This is the beginning. If salvation is the only goal. That’s easy peasy. Done. Just hit the “Easy” button Jesus provided. The thing is Jesus called us to live a better life, to sanctify our souls and to reach higher planes in the afterlife. Sanctification is a process. Sanctification is what we are here for, not salvation. We are here to improve ourselves, to sharpen our skills, to learn unconditional love, to learn to forgive quickly. This isn’t something Jesus does for you. It’s something the Spirit does with you.