The Journey from Legalism to Liberty in Churches of Christ

In the Bible there are many passages of Scripture that are so wonderful, so majestic, that I can hardly take them in. I read them and am in awe! I think about them and meditate and ponder and measure myself against them and wonder if I have begun to appropriate their promises for myself. I am often convicted, sometimes shamed, and at other times filled with thanksgiving. Some of what I find in the Bible seems to big for me. It is like walking into the front door of the Dallas Autorama, where do I begin? How can I possibly be able to see and appreciate it all?

One of those passages that to me is much more than enough for my mind and my heart is this one.

1″Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:1-4)

Where do I start? I mean this passage is so jam-packed with wonderful truth that I can hardly decide where to begin unpacking its promises. Maybe the best way is to go line by line and see what God is saying to us.

Vs. 1. Peter establishes his apostleship and the deity of Jesus. And he lays out the fundamental truth that every Christian is equal in that each of us have our standing in Christ by faith and that the only righteousness we can claim is His righteousness. Here is the basis of unity among believers, a common faith that gives each of us “equal standing”, even with the apostles.

Vs. 2. More grace and more peace come to us in knowing Christ more, for He alone is the source of grace and peace. Paul prayed for believers that they would “grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Vs. 3. Jesus said “I have all power in heaven and in earth” and here Peter says is it by His “divine power” that we are given “ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness”, “through the knowledge of Him (Jesus)”. Let’s see now. I’m living here on earth and I want to be godly. How do I get equipped for the task? Peter says get to know Jesus more because He is the source of ALL THINGS I need for living and being godly. If in Him I find that I have ALL THINGS that means that NO THING will be lacking. My ability to live a godly life, and the power to perform it, and even the will to do it, is locked up in the person of Jesus Christ. But there is more! He has a purpose for me and every other Christian. That divine purpose is that we bring him glory and share in his glory and that we are becoming like him now and finally will like him be excellent!

Vs. 4. By the means of his great and precious promises to us, and for us, we literally take on the divine nature and thus escape the corruption of this world.  Our greatest needs are spiritual needs and only He can provide them. Our greatest enemies are spiritual enemies and only by His power and might can we fight them…and win. And our common desire for immortality can be realized only in Him who was and is and is to come, our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer said that in “these last days God has spoken to us through His Son”. The revelation of God we call the Bible is the story of the loving Creator loving those he created, again and again showing mercy, offering grace, and being rejected. The central theme and central person are one and the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Only through His work and His worth are sinful men and women set right with God. Knowing Him, really knowing Him, and giving Him honor and glory, with our lips and in our living, is man’s highest good. He is our peace. He is our righteousness. He is our joy. He is our assurance. He is our life. He is all we need.

A Heritage Hijacked

Just over a decade ago I started worshiping, working, and loving, in a Church of Christ. I didn’t know much about the churches or the Restoration Movement but I determined to learn. And so I did. In a few months I started to learn that I knew more about the CoC heritage than most people my age who had been in the RM for generations. And I was shocked at how much churches today are unlike the founder’s dreams and ideals.

The Campbell’s, Stone, and others had some noble and good ideals. They dreamed of Christians from every stripe worshiping together in primitive ways and so infusing the message of the gospel and Christian morals into the culture that someday the whole earth would improve spiritually and morally so that in Alexander Campbell’s mind, the church’s impact on society would usher in the millineal reign of Christ on earth. Of course he was wrong about the end of his dream but none-the-less his dream was noble and pure.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the last 60 or 70 years and up to today and most of our more traditional congregations hardly resemble what the founders envisioned. Alexander Campbell coined the phrase “We are Christians only, but not the only Christians.” But now, in the year 2010, a rather large but steadily decreasing number of our churches hold to the premise “We are Christians only, and the ONLY Christians!” They will tell you in a hurry that even many other church of Christ folks are lost, in addition to two other significant groups who share with them a common heritage.

A movement that began as a “unity movement” to unite into one “the many sects” of Christians is now as fractured as any group on earth except for Baptists who have split and the splinters have split and there are dozens of Baptist groups of different flavors.

A movement that was pure in ideals and noble and right in vision was too soon hijacked by legalists. They turned what was a Bible loving and Christ honoring group of local churches into largely fragmented sects who each believed only they were saved and that everyone else who was not exactly like them in belief, and practice, were lost.

Get in line or you’re out!

By the early 192o’s, salvation and worship were clearly articulated by two sets of five points. Salvation became these 5 points.

1. Hear (Rom. 10:14-17)
2. Believe (Mark 16:16)
3. Repent (Acts 2:38)
4. Confess (Matt. 10:32-33)
5. Be Baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21

And, most of those who adhere to this “Plan of salvation” will add a 6th step, “Live a faithful life”.

While these 5 points are biblical and good and right, putting your faith in a “Plan of salvation” does not save. Faith in Christ saves. Interestingly, not one chapter in the New Testament includes all of these 5 steps but the NT references salvation scores of times. I wonder, how did those earliest Christians manage to “turn the world upside down” for Christ and win tens of thousands before even one of these passages was written?

Here is the problem with the “Plan” as I see it. It has become a check off list. A candidate for baptism will be asked the following questions. (That he “heard”, step 1, and believes, step 2, is assumed. In reality he may or may not have heard the gospel) “Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” The candidate responds “Yes.” “Have you repented of your sins?” He responds “Yes.” “Who is going to be the Lord of your life from this day forward?” He responds “Jesus”. And then he is baptized after the baptizer says “Based on your confession of faith I baptize you for the remission of your sins.”

Check, check, check, check, check. Now it may very well be that this fellow believes Jesus is the Son of God in the same way he believes Richard Petty was a race car driver. That is not faith, that is giving mental assent to a fact. In many cases this person has trusted a “plan” to save him and not the Lord Jesus. The proof is in the puddin’. I have seen door knocking campaigns where of more than a dozen who followed the plan not one life was changed an iota. Sometimes though God saves in spite of our ignorance and unbelief. Maybe the gospel gets in someway and a few will trust Christ and not in the plan of salvation and be saved.

Worship is just as glib. Again, 5 is the number. There are 5 acts of worship. They are”

1. Singing
2. Preaching
3. Praying
4. Giving
5. The Lord’s Supper.

Click, click, click, click, click. People are taught that if you do right you will be right. This is what the legalist refers to as the “Pattern of worship”. If you follow this pattern you are right and if you don’t…..Oh wait a second! Singing must be only A Cappella. You might ask, “Where does the Bible say that?” And the answer is unbelievable, really it is. What you will be told in essence is “We believe it because the Bible doesn’t say it. We have our reasons..”

If you don’t follow this so-called “Pattern of worship” you are not obedient to Jesus and you are lost. (Never mind that even the order of the 5 acts are points of disagreement and one group will condemn another to hell if the order isn’t as the first group says it should be….??? I’m not making any of this up.)

So, generic Christian Bill goes off to the “building” on a Sunday morning and one by one he clicks off the 5 acts. He sings the 3 songs and the invitation song. He eats a tiny cracker and drinks some Welches grape juice. He listens to the preacher. There was an opening prayer and a closing prayer. He puts $5 bucks in the collection plate and He is home in time for the kick off and he has done what is “authorized”, he has scripturally worshiped! Really?

Lets just examine one of the 5 acts of what is “authorized” and is one fifth of the “pattern” to be followed. Prayer. Someone prayed twice and Bill might have even prayed, but more than likely he only listened to someone else pray. Now I ask you, when we read in the Bible that the early church “prayed together” is this what they did? Surely, with a tiny bit of reflection, nobody believes that is what they did. So has bro’ Bill violated his own pattern?

Here is the flaw of the 5 step plan of salvation and the 5 acts of worship. A person who is not a Christian can breeze right through both of them and in fact they do it all the time. How can I be so sure? I personally know people, close friends, who did it for years. That is until they came to know the only source of eternal life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Doing right does not make one right.

Everyone who has been around our churches of Christ very long knows several people who have been baptized more than once. Some of them have been immersed 3, 4, or more times. Why? They thought they didn’t do it right. They simply couldn’t understand why their lives were no different since they had followed the “plan”. Only when a sinner puts his faith in Christ, when he believes in a trusting and dependent way upon Jesus does he get what he needs and wants. For many it is synonymous with baptism. However, that is not true with everyone. I know an elder, a very godly man, greatly used by God to share the good news all across the country, whose testimony is that it was years before his life started to match his confession. Baptism, and the other acts are useless unless the candidate, like the man from Ethiopia long ago, believes “with all his heart” in Jesus Christ the God-man, and not in a plan.

Shaking off the shackles.

In the last 11 years I have seen a noticeable difference in my own congregation. The message of the grace of God demonstrated in the doing and dying of Jesus has started to grip the hearts of more and more of God’s people and the harvest of souls is increasing. All around the country people are leaving the bondage of legalism and embracing the love and grace of God. Their testimony is that finally they are free from doubt, free from worry, because they have been convinced that it is not about them but about Jesus. His dying for them, His burial, and His resurrection for them is an objective fact and their faith in Him is sure and firm.

Ephesians 2 answers the objections of the legalistic types whose indictment of anyone who preaches or teaches salvation by grace though faith alone is that we don’t value “works” or “faithfulness” and that we believe a person can live any old way and be fine in God’s eyes. Nothing could be more wrong.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

A careful reading of this passage precludes any nonsensical idea that just because one holds to salvation by faith that he does not value good works.

This is astonishingly clear. Salvation is not the result of works! (Vs. 9)  By the way, that is true before or after one is converted. But keep reading.

Christians are God’s product, His “workmanship”. We are His “creation” in Christ Jesus for what purpose? GOOD WORKS! And, this is something that God didn’t just hatch up at the last minute. No, He prepared this plan “beforehand”. What is the plan? “That we should walk in them”. (Vs. 10)

This is not my plan, it is God’s plan. Just as sure as God created dogs and bull frogs God created Christians to “walk in”, or “do” “Good Works”! A person who does not do “good works” as a lifestyle is not a Christian. Read 1 John. He says this exact same thing. So are “works” important? Yes, so important that God’s design for Christians included them. But, make no mistake about it, not one person will be saved because of their good deeds. “Not of your own doing” in Vs. 8 and “Not the result of works” in Vs. 9 means exactly what it says. No seminary degree with an emphasis in biblical languages is required to unpack this passage and understand it.

So, how about you? When you retire at night do you have the assurance that everything is OK between you and God? Are you trusting Him? Or, are you depending on your ability to worship right, be good enough, and hope it all works out in the end? There is a better way! Put your whole trust in Christ alone and enjoy the love and grace only he gives.

I suggest that everyone who reads this post take some time and read John 17, slowly and prayerfully, asking God to show you the truth of those words. You will find that you are safe in Him.

For truth,

Royce Ogle

A new look at an old institution – the Church

Brian Mashburn’s post today reminded me of something I needed to write. Brian’s post is titled “Change how you do church or watch your church die“.

The traditional way we build churches is sort of  a competition. Group “A” will locate a town with no church like their brand in it and they will plant a church there. Then they will try to grow that church, especially numerically. In truth, the goal, even if unspoken, is to be the largest church in town one day. I think its settled that the way success is measured is by Sunday a.m. attendance isn’t it?

Consider a new way.

A congregation wants to evangelize Yourtown, USA.  Three young couples who have been discipled and are mature believes are willing to move to the town to plant a church. So they move, find housing, get jobs, put the kids in school, and start meeting in the living room of one of the couples. The group grows, and soon outgrows the living room. Here is where the story changes.

(Back to Yourtown, USA for a moment. Lets suppose this town has 8 major apartment complexes, 4 large subdivisions, and a large trailer park. There are jobs, a favorable climate, acceptable tax structure, and people are moving in.)

The traditional way, is to begin trying to find a larger space, first to rent, until they get big enough to purchase land and build a building. And many thousands have done just that. In a few years they have lets say 200 solid members.

What if when Bob and Carol’s space becomes too small, they simply start a simultaneous group over at Ted and Alice’s apartment complex, and when that space gets to small they begin another at Bill and Susan’s trailer park meeting room, etc, etc, etc.

You tell me which is more Biblical and a more effective model.

Traditional: In five years there are two hundred members, two services on Sunday and one on Wednesday night. There are Bible classes, the church is supporting foreign missions, people are happy and things are going well. People are members from all over the town, there were 7 baptisms last year and some other families joined whose jobs brought them here. The young church has a full-time preacher, a youth minister, two elders, and a huge mortgage. Pretty typical huh?

Non-Traditional: In five years there are 12 cell churches. Each of them meets weekly for teaching, praying together, communion, worship, and mutual encouragement. Each member of each group lives in the apartment complex, subdivision, trailer park, etc. For instance, Ted and Alice have 9 couples in their group and are about to birth another in a nearby community where a member’s brother and his wife live. Ted and Alice and the other 8 families minister to the people who live in this complex, first, and then to others. When someone has a death in the family these Christians are there with food, a listening ear, baby sitting, money, or whatever help they can give. Ted and Alice and their group try desperately to love the people of that complex in Jesus stead. They will see people who have been loved open to the gospel and the Lord will add to his church.

Twelve small communities are being saturated with Christian love, concern, and modeling life as it should be lived to a watching world. Each of those complexes, subdivisions, and trailer parks are well aware of these good people who want nothing but to love them.

The leaders of the several groups meet once every few weeks to pray for each other and their people, to brainstorm, to plan large group community fairs, picnics, ect where the whole town (and all the groups) can be invited. Three men, who each lead a group, are elders. Any problems that cannot be sorted out by the people themselves is shared with these  three men who decide what is best and right.

Which model is better?

I contend that the very best traditional church, where most of what happens happens inside the “building” can never reach a community as well as the newer model. There is no competition between groups in the new model because when a group gets to about 9 or 10 families (or less) they have already been praying about where to begin a new church. (they are churches you know…) There is no salary to pay, there is no mortgage payment, so guess what? The people have more discretionary dollars to use to help others and support missions.

In my view the new model is an ego crusher. There is no big “I” and little “you”. There is just Christians being salt and light to the people who live near them. They are Christ’s ambassadors to the people they play ball with, bowl with, eat BBQ with, etc.

It might be a new way or the highway!

The attractional model of doing church once worked pretty well. No more in my view. If we don’t find a way, some way, to actually be involved in our neighbors lives with love, and help, and healing, and hope, we are a dying breed. There are some churches, even mega-churches, that are doing a great job of ministering to the communities they serve. They are meeting the needs of the people in tangible ways and making opportunities for gospel conversations. They are rare though, and I think becoming more rare.

I can imagine dozens of house churches all over a city sitting in living rooms, or on back porches, watching a live stream of a man of God teaching the Bible on a big screen TV patched to a computer. What does the future hold? Only God knows. I do know that where ever God’s sheep are that is where the church is, big or small, traditional or non-traditional. Jesus is still building it and until He comes for it, we get to work with him in his mission.



How can we know we are Christians?

Maybe a better question would have been not “how can” we know, but simply “can we know”? Well, there is no doubt this topic is one worth discussing. Some good people, people whose lives are given to serving Christ and others are doubtful and really don’t think you can know if you are safe or not until the final judgement. Others ask themselves and others, have I been good enough?

There are all sorts of subjective conclusions about this subject but the final authority on this question and all questions spiritual must be answered by God’s revelation, the Bible. When we stand on what God has said we stand on solid ground. Now we have another problem! Everyone who has an opinion claims biblical authority for what they believe and or teach. So, knowing full well that I am only one more undeserving, redeemed sinner, I will add my thoughts.

Almost everyone who goes by the name “Christian” agrees on a set of facts. Those are that Jesus was God in flesh, that he was the Christ of God, that he died for our sins, that he rose from the grave three days later, and only though faith in him can we be forgiven of our sins and finally have a home in heaven. For the most part, these things are not the topic of debate. The worrying question is, am I personally saved because of these facts?

To further complicate matters, some people have assurance of their salvation who shouldn’t. There are likely tens of thousands of regular church attenders, givers, teachers, preachers, and people who live what is considered to be a good moral life, who think they are saved but are not. (Matthew 7:21-23) And, there are many, many people who should have assurance but do not. So how do we unravel this puzzle of misconceptions, assumptions, and false assurance, or lack of assurance?

Both Peter and Paul addressed this head on. Peter warned,

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10,11)

Paul, in 2 Corinthians said the same thing this way,

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Why would the Holy Spirit move these men to write these things if you can’t make your calling and election sure, or if you can’t know if you are in the faith? It is absurd to think such a thing.

False Assurance

I am a better person than most of my neighbors. I am honest, kind to dogs, children, and old people. I attend church faithfully, I was confirmed, I was baptized, I give a tithe, I have had a successful ministry, I made a decision for Christ, I prayed the sinners prayer, etc., etc. The problem with this is the word “I”. In this case the I’s do not win.

Biblical Assurance

Jesus is the only ground and hope of my faith. I am depending only on Him and the promises of the gospel that if I lean on Him and allow his rule in my life I can know I am secure. I understand that I don’t deserve God’s grace and forgiveness of sins and that I have no power within myself to change my destiny. For me it is either Jesus or nothing!

What Should We Be Looking For When We “Test Ourselves” and How Do We “Make Our Calling and Election sure”?

Peter said it this way.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:2-9)

Peter says we have all that is necessary to be certain we are in the faith and they all are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we have everything that matters for daily living and godliness, and we have His promises.

First Test, Peter.

Are you and I purposefully working on being who we are in Christ? If not, DANGER ahead! A life that is not showing the qualities Peter lists, in increasing measure is one that is not safe.

Paul answers this way.

“Do what is right…” (2 Corinthians 13:7)

“Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

What does this look like in a person’s life?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

Paul’s Test

We must ask ourselves honestly, does this look good on me? Is this what a watching world sees at my work, at a ball park, when I talk to my CPA, and when I have to interact with people at church that I really don’t especially like? There are no coasting Christians.

I’ll end this post with one of the most convincing statements on assurance in the Bible. John wrote these words specifically so you and I may know we are in the faith.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

It would be a cruel thing for God to say this and not let us in on how we can know for sure. He does clearly tell us.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John:1)

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4,5)

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:20)

A Spiritual Check up!

First, agree with God that eternal life is not what we do but is Christ himself. We must “know Him” and be “in Him” to be save.

Second, read 1 John understanding that it was written for your assurance that you are really a Christian. Don’t make the common mistake of going backwards and thinking that if you mimic what John writes, that will make you a Christian. We are not saved by what we do but by Jesus alone.

1 John is a spiritual check list so you can know you are in the faith, that you are secure in Christ. Honest answers will either prove up the genuineness of your faith, or show you that you are not in the faith and point you to Jesus who is himself eternal life.

There are NO promises of assurance for pretenders, make believers, and the self-righteous. ALL of the promises are for those who are in Christ by faith. Don’t be misled. (Matthew 7:21-23)

In the professing church on earth there are two groups of people. There are first those who have a sincere faith in Jesus and are trusting Him alone for their salvation. Good works are what they are designed for (Ephesians 2:10). God’s law of love is written on their hearts and they want to love him and their fellow-man because they are now partakers of the divine nature.

The second group in our churches are those who are depending on their superior morality, measuring themselves by themselves. They will point out how “faithful” they are, to their baptism or confirmation and other things about them that lead them to believe they are safe. This group includes pew riders and preachers, elders and bishops, priests and all other pretenders who will give as evidence they are saved only what they have done or are doing.

A careful, soul-searching reading of 1 John, will tell you for sure if you are, or are not, really a Christian.

In Christ,

Royce Ogle

The One True Church

This morning I was to fish in a tournament on a nearby lake. All of the proceeds from the tournament entry fees will be used to support summer camp for kids from our church, Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ. I decided to not fish after paying my entry fee and registering for two reasons. The steering on my boat is failing and severe thunderstorms are predicted. The boat is in the local repair shop and I am in my cozy home.

This morning I sat down with a warm cup of coffee and Googled “weather, 71203” and clicked on my favorite weather site, to see how far away the predicted storms are. I noticed a tiny Google ad, “The One True Church”. My curiosity peeked and I clicked on the link and listened to a few minutes of a video expounding why that church is the “One True Church“. Of course they are not the one true church but maybe they are a part of it, maybe not.

It was easy to learn from the website that the focus of their teaching was a series of lessons validating their claim that they alone are the true church and that all others are false. The first red flag I see, the thing that gives me pause, is when any  group teaches more about the church than the Christ. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to produce all of the material necessary to support such a claim of exclusivity.

I’m trying to remember how many “One True” churches there is. I can think of  perhaps a dozen right away. You might think of more. Each of those that come to mind use similar tactics and teaching to prove up their claims. And, every one of them has a different set of rules one must keep to finally be accepted by God. Man made religion is always and forever about keeping rules. It is a detailed, well thought out plan of how man can earn God’s favor and be looked upon favorably by Him.

The One True Church” is not a church on earth making claims of exclusivity. The “One True Church” is the mystical body of Christ composed of every person God has called to Himself and is depending on Christ alone for salvation and final reward. That remnant of those, both dead and living and who are not yet saved, who are God’s own dear children and understand that God looks on His children favorably because of the obedience of Jesus and not their own. He birthed them supernaturally, put His Holy Spirit in them as a guarantee and assurance, gave them immortality, wrote His law on their hearts, poured out His love in their hearts, and designed them to love and do good works.

It is my view (this is not inspired!) that of professing Christiandom only a “few” are members of the Lord’s body, the “church“. Jesus’ own words when He described the “narrow” way and “few” that find it. His rebuke of professing Christians who were only counterfeits in Matthew 7. And for me, the most compelling truth is His descriptions of how his followers must live in self denial, have unconditional love for others, be different from the world, and be holy people, stands in stark contrast to the average church member on the pew any given Sunday.

God’s plan to reconcile sinful people to Himself goes against human nature and crushes the human ego. It demands surrender! It demands that we give up trying to appease God and simply trust the Christ who bore our sins in his body, who died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. Most people it seems, stumble at the simplicity of the gospel of Christ.

If you are in “The One True Church” Christ is the chief cornerstone of your life. If not, He is the stone you stumble over and a rock of offense. The message of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus will get one of two reactions. A person will either be drawn to God’s plan or be offended by it. How about you? It is my only hope!