Sometimes what we wish to emphasize is correct, but the impression we leave is incorrect. I remember a good man, a friend who preached for another religious group. One day he asked if we could talk about religious matters weekly. Feeling complimented that he wanted to talk, I quickly said, “Yes!”
Early in our informal talks he said, “I sincerely wish to better understand the Church of Christ. I feel I can ask you questions without you getting angry. Explain to me why people in the Church of Christ think they can save themselves.”
Shocked, I asked where he had formed that impression. He read some of our literature and did some research on what we said about obedience. His impression formed by what he read and saw: we were convinced we saved ourselves by doing the correct things. That impression confused him. The emphasis he read/saw neglected the role of Jesus Christ in our salvation.
Is it important to obey God? Absolutely! Are sins eliminated and relationship with God restored by human acts? Never! Paul said to the Corinthian Christians, Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, 22—NASB).
Why write that to Christians? Perhaps they thought salvation resulted from a system, not a Savior. Without the Savior, no human act makes us righteous. Christ saves; obedience expresses faith.
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