The greatest challenge in my life has been to peel away the layers of empty religion to uncover the life-changing gospel. It has been a journey of ups and downs, bumps and potholes, detours and roadblocks, but the conviction has crystallized in my heart that all true believers in Christ, both in heaven and on earth, have but one faith. That faith has characterized all of God's true people down through the ages: Abraham, David, Job, Moses, Peter, Paul, Martin Luther, the Waldenses, and a whole host of others who have discovered the essence of true religion. Out of this deep conviction, I have formed my personal statement of faith:
"Christianity is Christ. In Christ, regardless of denomination, there are only blood-bought, born-again, Spirit-led, Bible-believing Christians. Therefore, my creed is the Bible, my empowerment is grace; my life is of faith; my salvation is in Christ alone;
my denomination is Christ!"
This to me is the irreducible gospel-bare bones, unadorned, and irrefutable. Christ, and Christ alone, is my life. It is from Him that I receive life and power to live that life. It is In Him that I live and move and have my being. Anything that keeps me from this experience I now view as a bunch of fences, cross fences, barricades, and obstacles. That includes not only the distractions of this world, but also a lot of Christ-less theology, religious routines and forms, doctrines, reforms, standards, and professions that can be a substitute for the Savior. In my opinion, whatever fails to bring me into a practical daily experience in Christ, amounts to no saving good!
Let us beware of the gospel of substitutions that contains a lot of good, a lot of energy, and a lot of facts and focus. But if it is missing the core, it leads you wandering the endless mazes of religion, while still wearing pretentious leaves. These pretentious leaves are present whenever we turn a truth into The Truth and hold to this truth more than to Jesus Christ. That's what the Jewish nation did with the Sabbath truth. They had just crucified the Lord of the Sabbath, when they went to Pilate for permission to take Christ down from the cross in order to
violate the Sabbath. Is that you? Do you do that with your focus on last day events, Bible prophecy, religious affiliation, or any other overly focused doctrine or reform? If so BEWARE!
That was me and that has been so many millions of people down through the ages, starting with God's first denominated church. When the Roman soldiers surrounded Jerusalem, God's first denominated people put their trust in the Temple instead of in Jesus Christ. They ran to the Temple saying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these." Jeremiah 7:4. They were slain with their false hopes and their blood ran out the temple doors into the streets.
When I was raised as a Catholic I was told to put my full and undivided trust in the Pope and his religious organization. It failed me! Praise God someone introduced me to the Scriptures and a church that holds to those Scriptures. Sad to say that organization never brought me into a living experience in Jesus Christ but only to itself. Hosea 10:1 says it so well, "Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself." I wish I could find an exception to that statement, but search as I do, I only find great disappointment in the denominations of today. It seems they have all become substitutes for the one thing we all need, Christ in us, the only hope of humanity. He is the Power and there is no substitute for Him! The apostle Paul said it so well when he emphatically stated, "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2
When that power of God flows into us, He lights up our lives. He revitalizes our stale marriages, He transforms our disconnected families, and He enhances our relationships and connects us to His Father through His Son. Jesus through the Holy Spirit is the only one Who enables us to bare undeniable fruit in our everyday lives. Therefore if you are in Christ Jesus you are in The church, if you are not in Christ, you are not in His church. Therefore my denomination is Christ and Christ only!
What about you? What are you really doing with Jesus? Is He really the enabling Power in your daily life? Does your marriage; family and other personal relationships bear the fruit that Jesus is at their center?
Resting and trusting in Him,
Jim & Sally