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3 Ways We Undermine our Faith

I love the idea of "Next Steps".

In our local congregational life at Rolling Hills Baptist Church, it means many things. For one, "Next Steps" is a class for new members to be integrated into the life of the church and to understand their individual role as a Christian in the larger body of Christ. is where you go to inquire about salvation, baptism, Life Groups, or volunteering at Rolling Hills Baptist Church - it's the "central hub" to take your next step in your faith.

We believe that, wherever you are in your Christian faith, there is always more of Christ to be enjoyed, more growth to be had, and more understanding to be gained. The ultimate ideal and goal of our faith is to know and enjoy Christ without distraction or barrier in the power of His death and resurrection. (Philippians 3:10-11) On this Earth, we will never reach the ultimate ideal, but, in Christ, we have great hope that we can spend this life getting ever closer to it. And, because Christ "shares with us in his crucifixion and resurrection" (Philippians 3:10-12), we will know him and love him eternally in a new, restored reality on the New Earth. (Revelation 21) Each "Next Step" is progress towards eternity with Christ and away from death and sin.

However, when we don't have a clear sight or idea of Christ, the ultimate goal of our spiritual life, "Next Steps" can become a burden instead of a blessing. Our Pastor Daniel's famous "opportunities of a lifetime" become something to scoff at instead of something to receive with pleasure and anticipation. And, in an even more sinister way, if we get discouraged enough to think that we'll never reach the ideal, then we will likely find no reason to take any "Next Steps" at all. It will undermine our faith entirely.

When and why does this happen? And why, if there is no satisfactory goal to life, should we continue?

Here are 3 ways we lose sight of Christ and undermine our faith:

  • We know Christ as an employer and not as a brother.

All the time at Rolling Hills Baptist Church, we emphasize (rightly) the work of Christ on the cross for our salvation and how we can only know God and have eternal life through Christ. (Romans 5:8-10) However, when we're not careful, a deceitful perversion can come into this message in our hearts. Even though we are "saved by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8-9), we can believe that our actions are the primary thing that pleases God after we are saved. We think of Christ not as a brother, (Hebrews 2:10-13) but as a "coach" in a multi-level marketing business. Furthermore, we view the Great Commission as a sales game to please our coach, and we view disciples that we may lead to Christ as sales numbers.

This may lead the more extroverted of us to try to work our way to sanctification, and it may lead the more introverted towards considering the Great Commission as optional and not making disciples at all. Either way, it does not point us to the true Christ and leads to the sin of pride, as we subtly become the center of our own salvation story, thinking of ourselves as more righteous in our works than we really are.

  • We think the ultimate earthly ideal is a perfect moral record.

In a similar way, if we are not careful, we can hear the message of the gospel, accept it, and, instead of keeping Christ at the center of the story, retell it so that moral works are at the center of the story.

I once had a Sunday School teacher who told the story of Enoch, the Old Testament character who "...walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." (Genesis 5:24 NIV) In her assessment, Enoch lived such a pleasing life after he met God that God resurrected him before death. "It is possible" to live out that perfect life after knowing God, she said.

The gospel is not that we can act better because Christ acted perfectly. It is that we were spiritually dead because of our sin and that Christ made us alive because of his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.

So, we are remiss to think that it was exclusively Christ's perfect moral record that made him a perfect sacrifice for sin. Christ is co-eternal with God the Father (John 1), was conceived supernaturally (Luke 1-2), came back to life after death, and has all the attributes of God just as he has all the attributes of a man. His moral record stems from his being, not his being from his moral record.

If we get the gospel wrong in this way, we will think of "Next Steps" as a way to move ourselves closer to God like Christ did, not to experience more of God as he has made us alive in Christ, which will lead us to idolatry and pride.

  • We think "Next Steps" aren't worth it because of grace.

When we think that, in order to fully enjoy God and to live with him, we should "be true to ourselves" and keep living as we are with the expectation that God will work around our expectations, we fundamentally misunderstand the gospel. (Romans 6:1-2) God is not an add-on onto our lives, but our entire life.

In 2023 church life, we face this crisis of understanding with our finances. Statistics show that giving is down across the board in America, but consumerism and buying is at an all-time high. When we convince ourselves that the urgent or the desirable is better than obeying God because Christ already took our sin and gave us freedom, we undervalue Christ, succumb to the sin of sloth and idolatry, and fool ourselves into thinking we are experiencing the full Christian life without knowing Christ.

When we begin to really believe the gospel, things that once were weird and bitter will be restful and rejuvenating. Theology will become exciting and fresh for you instead of dusty. Thinking about God will become practical and applicable and not separate from your daily lifestyle. Reading the Bible will be a highlight and not a chore. Serving in church will fulfill your identity and not take away from it.

This is not because of your own doing, and you can't "do" anything to produce this perspective change. The Holy Spirit will bring that faithfully and obviously as you confess your sin to Christ and believe that He really is the Christ.

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