What is Legalism?

Some Christians judge a person’s spirituality by their associations (e.g., what church they attend, to what political party they belong, or who they hold as close friends), their practices (e.g., their devotional habits, the way they dress, the entertainment they enjoy), or their passions (e.g., whether they share our concern for certain ministries or messages). Such judgments brush dangerously close to a legalism that runs contrary to the spirit of the gospel. Legalism takes one’s own associations, practices, and passions—perhaps true applications or expressions of biblical morality—and makes them normative for everyone else in the body of Christ. Life in the Spirit, on the other hand, places an emphasis both on clear biblical commands as well as on biblical principles and seeks to live out a broad-based morality revealed in Scripture under the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit.

George Guthrie, Hebrews, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), 293.

What God Cannot Do

Do you have a free will, or is life determined for you without your input?

It cannot be both.

You cannot appeal to paradox and say that with God it can be both. (I hear that one all the time, which really means that people don’t want to think about and take a shortcut to end the discussion.)

Either you have free will or you don’t.

Thus, if you have free will:

  • there doesn’t have to be a divine purpose in everything that happens to you.
  • the is not a specific time appointed for you to die that you cannot override by dying early.
  • God is not to blame when you get sick.
  • you can decide to place your loyalty and trust in God, through Jesus.
  • you can change your mind about that later.
  • there is no one God-designated person you should marry, job you should have, church you should attend, or place you should live.

Please feel free to discuss.

I know some will say that God can do anything. Well, can do anything logically possible, but even those things he doesn’t always do. That is, he doesn’t do everything. So, figure that into your discussion.

Happiness

A wonderful man, a friend indeed, came and sat down next to me after church last Sunday, and cheered my heart.

In a round about way, he had seen my post lamenting that young earth creationism seems to carry the day in our church. He came to tell me that he agrees with me that only a closed mind could fail to see that there are other ways God might have created besides the one that requires rigidly literal interpretation of Genesis 1.

So, there are at least two of us at church. That encourages me.

He also recommended to me to works of Hugh Ross, who had previously been cited in something I read. I need to look into it. Ross’s entry into the discussion is from the side of hard physical science, which is my own background. I’ve read plenty of stuff from biologists, but a physicist would take a different approach, I think.

Reversion

I can understand how some intellectual evangelicals “revert” to Catholicism. I can’t quite imagine myself doing so, but I could easily revert as far as Anglicanism.

I got to drive Carol’s car today. After checking and adjusting tire pressures, I had to drive it around the block to complete the sensor reset. When I got back, Carol accused me of racing. Sheesh, I didn’t even put the top down.

Sustainer

Dr. J. Kenneth Grider would often say something in his pre-class prayer that has stuck with me.

Father, we thank you for holding things together, and for holding the right things together.

God is the sustainer of the cosmos, just as he is the creator. He holds things together.

I’ve been thinking of this concept in relation to my illness. I expected to be dead by now. I was asked to sign a DNR form a long time ago. Most people with the type of bone marrow failure I have would have succumbed by now. Blood transfusions would have failed to keep them going.

But for me, blood transfusions every two weeks have the same result every time: the ability to go on for two more weeks. I use up a unit of red cells every week, just as predictably as you can calculate the range your car will go on a tank of gas.

Of course, my levels are still very low and my activities must be curtailed from what I was accustomed to before. But the point is that I’m still alive and no one can guess how long this situation might go on.

This is not a miracle. But I can see the sustaining God at work in keeping me alive and kicking (only a little bit). Am I wrong about that?

I’m not one of those who sees God in everything that happens. I certainly don’t look for God’s purpose in illness because I don’t blame him for it. I also am a bit reluctant to look at my own situation in any kind of illustrative way.

But being sustained by God makes sense to me, in light of scripture and experience.

So, if God is extending my life through the natural means of regular blood transfusions, I have a couple of responses in mind:

  1. I should stop dreading those Wednesdays I spend most of the day in the cancer center and treat them as a blessing. I will give that a try, but no promises.

  2. I should not just bag the idea of being used by God for the rest of the time I am alive. I should try to find something useful to do for him.

This is my thought today. I could still die before the day is out. But as Peter Grainger says, through his character Detective Sergeant Smith, “It’s not how much time you have, but what you do with the time you have.”

Disciples

The path of discipleship is not meant for super Christians while normal Christians live lives of quiet desperation. All Christians are disciples. Why are so many of us failing to grow up in the faith?

Drag

This is the weekend of the NHRA Nationals. We can hear it from our house, and it provides a pleasant background music for the entire Labor Day weekend.

If you are on the site, you probably need earplugs. For us, the volume is just right.