Taking back the reins
… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)
Jesus has many titles. Among them are Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, and Redeemer. Those titles which imply rescue are deeply valued by those who recognize their need.
Yet, Jesus is also called author and perfecter. These titles link Jesus as the Son of God to His role as Creator. What is interesting here is the titles are not in relation to physical creation, but the creation and perfection of faith.
The statement in Hebrews is profound. It means that Jesus didn’t just save a person at some point in their past. It means that the saving work was just the beginning point of the ongoing work of Jesus in the believer.
Almost every Christian theology I have studied falls apart in light of this. Why? Because these theologies maintain that Jesus has saved you, but now it’s your turn to work out this salvation. Yes, you were saved by grace, but now you are sanctified by your own will and effort.
So, the individual is led to believe that they must ‘take the reins’ of living the Christian life in order to fulfill what God has called them to. And God has called them to ‘moral living’. It appears in different forms in different denominations, but the end result is the same; the yoke of law is placed squarely on the individual’s shoulders.
Does this sound familiar?
Gerhard Forde described this as the theology of the Old Adam. You see, people want to take responsibility for some aspect of their spirituality growth. They want to be in charge of something. Passivity is bad, activity is good. Yet, that’s not how you received Christ. And Paul writes, ‘Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him’ (Colossians 2:6).
Instead, the Old Adam wants to take back the reins. He wants to be in charge of his own sanctification. He wants to defend that part of himself that can do something.
And, by the way, that theology is a great way to control people. The more moral law you have, the more people act morally. The key word is act. So many believe they are ‘pulling it off’ when they have simply traded in their gross sins (drinking, smoking, and womanizing) for internal sins (self-righteousness based on their ‘good behavior’).
Martin Luther (not King Jr.) wrote that Christ had to die, not just for our sin, not just for our good works, but for our best works! That, even our worship is touched with sin. Where does that lead you? Definitely not to the self. He has removed that safe-haven.
Like Hebrews 12:2, all of this leads you to despair of the self in sanctifying effort. Christ will receive the glory for both your salvation and the perfecting of your faith.
You are God’s problem. Since He was able to rescue you from Sin and Death, then He is more than dependable when is comes to the perfection of your faith. He is faithful to complete the work He has set out to do … in you.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6
Peace and mercy,