Psalms 23 – Proverbs 2
“4 Against you, only you, I have sinned and have done this evil in your eyes, so that you are correct when you speak, you are blameless when you judge.”
There are several ideas on what it means to be saved, it’s unfortunate, but it’s so. They draw from the same stem but diverge into different solutions. One idea is the works based way of salvation. Most Christians say that they are saved by God’s grace and seem to acknowledge it; however, there is this sort of a because I’m saved I should do more good than bad and if I do something wrong I can make up for it. At first, this idea seems to be in line with scripture that once saved it should produce good fruits and therefore works stem from faith. However, this is the seed landing on the rocky surface. What happens to someone who tries to do more good than bad is they seek to put God in their debt. So when troubles and tribulations arrive, they seek to collect what is “theirs” from God and fall away when He doesn’t come due.
Another idea of salvation is what is now called hyper-grace or Christianity-and-water. This idea takes all the good God offers and does away with the bad that life brings. This is a popular idea because, in this view, God is always loving and never just. He always forgives and never demands. This is akin to God in a box, or the Monopoly’s get out of jail free card. When we feel shame for the behavior we engaged in, we remind ourselves that God loves us and forgives us and conveniently, Jesus paid the atonement for our sins. This dangerous idea leads people to think they can engage in whatever behavior they want as long as they hold on to the side rail that is the forgiving God.
Lastly, the scripture idea of salvation is that of faith alone in Christ, which leads to repentance and the fruits of the Spirit. This idea is different than the first one because there is no expectation from God to reciprocate our ‘good’ because He already did the ultimate Good. We surrender our meager lives in dedication to Him and His will because we claim to love Him. What it means to repent is to turn away from things we find favorable that God finds intolerable. We don’t get to cherry pick which of God’s rules we’ll follow and attempting to do more good than bad never undoes the bad we’ve already engaged in.
Can Christians be unrepentant?
The answer to the above question is so obvious that even an unrepentant Christian who doesn’t know he’s not a Christian can answer it. However, there is a bit more to the answer than many may have considered. There are those who believe themselves to be Christians that think they have been repentant. We see this in the story of the rich man who approaches Jesus. He asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus responds with what was common knowledge and telling him to keep the commandments. The young man assures Jesus he’s kept them since his youth. And so Jesus, loving him, tells him, “You lack one thing.”
This is where I challenge the most God-fearing man to the lay Christian who sits in the back. It is a challenge for all who read this and even for me as I write this. When we tell ourselves that we indeed are Christian, that we attempt to repent and come to God with a contrite heart, even still have we given everything to God? Jesus is continually warning that narrow is the path and broad is the descent. Sometimes I convince myself He merely means 49% of all people will be with Him and so surely I will be included in that number. I fear that number is exponentially lower than we’d like to believe. He tells us that many will say to Him “Lord, Lord” and He will say to them that He never knew them.
Don’t imagine me coming down from on high speaking down as if to say I have all the answers. If anything, I present more problems than solutions or rather more ideas than Christian tropes. Christ calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him. This is very demanding and something that we all struggle with. Part of the struggle is also not knowing what it entirely means. Something I think I’m entirely sure of, however, is if we claim to love God, then we would obey Him. There are no two ways about it. We can’t say we believe in God, let alone love Him, and continue to engage in behavior He hates. This is not to say if we sin, we fall out of His grace, but we should strive to be perfect like He is perfect. God’s grace alone saves us through faith in Jesus Christ, and faith leads to repentance and fruits that the Spirit offers.